VCST is run by a dedicated board of directors and a coordinator:
Sharmarke Dubow – President
Sharmarke facilities volunteer support services for refugees in Greater Victoria at Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria and formerly facilitated wraparound support services for vulnerable immigrant and refugee youth in Greater Victoria at Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, and he is also be a member of the Canadian Council for Refugees, (CCR) Executive Committee and various CCR committees. He has a strong desire to participate, explore solutions and be an advocate for newcomers to Canada and refugees overseas.
Prior to joining VCST, he spent over 5 years working with asylum seekers, migrants and refugees in the Middle East, where he worked with several organizations, including Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance, Egypt AMERA, Psychosocial Training Institute Cairo and as a research assistant at Center Migration Refugee Studies, CMRS at American University in Cairo, AUC.
Sharmarke holds a BA in Business Technology from the University of Cape Breton and is also a certified community psychosocial worker from CMRS at AUC, Egypt.
Ken Agar-Newman – Secretary & Co-Treasurer
Ken has been working as a registered nurse for many years and found his passion for human rights when he traveled overland from London to New Delhi at age eighteen.
He is one of the founding members of VCST and has been involved with a number of projects of relevance to stopping torture including: supporting article 10 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture in relation to the education of nurses and others; supporting a coherent and clear voice by the nursing profession against specific cases of torture; and establishing a body to ensure oversight in connection with universal standards of nursing (medical) practice related to torture prevention and whistle blowing.
Felix Autenrieth – Co-Treasurer
In Katiali, Côte d´Ivoire, Felix experienced the positive impact of humanitarian work for strengthening local and global communities. He volunteered at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for both the NGO “Cosmopolitan Club” and the University YMCA, which culminated in the renovation of an elementary school. Furthermore, while staying for two months in the village Katiali, the children impressed him with how they took agency for their own learning, thereby placing him on his ongoing journey as a teacher.
After graduation, Felix taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in Colombia for three years. He is currently enrolled in the Post-Degree Professional Program (PDPP) at the University of Victoria. As a teacher, Felix wants to foster a sense of belonging in newcomer youth and guide his students towards informed world citizenship. He believes that when we let ourselves be guided by students’ curiosity, focus on their well-being and happiness, as well as integrating them into our small and large communities, we can create a better world. Felix enjoys engaging with culturally diverse student populations and practices a pedagogy of the heart, in which everyone benefits through the integration of unique perspectives, perceptions and understandings.
Álvaro Moreno – Member at Large
Álvaro Moreno has over 25 years of experience in the research, planning, management and evaluation of social and community change projects and programs, both in Canada and Overseas. Areas of experience include participatory research and education, planning and evaluation, human rights education, democratic development, social and community economic development, environmental education, diversity awareness and anti-racism education. Álvaro is currently the Settlement Director with the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, Álvaro holds an MSc in Sociology from the University of Alberta and in his home country (El Salvador) he was an Agricultural Engineer.
Kathryn Finnis – Member at Large
From a young age, Kathryn has been passionate about human rights and helping those around her. This desire to lend a helping hand lead her to a career in health care. For the last four years, she has worked within the hospital sector as a regulated pharmacy technician, focusing on sterile product preparations. Since becoming involved with VCST, Kathryn is now looking to further her education and shift into the legal field. Her goal is to focus on giving a voice to marginalized groups and break the stigma surrounding immigration and mental health.
Rick Howard – Member at Large
Rick is a retired emergency room registered nurse. Throughout his career, he worked with people of all ages that are victims of torture. Having studied anthropology (B.A.) in university, Rick has always been shocked by the readiness of populations to condone inhuman acts. On a personal level, he has worked to engage labour activism amongst hospital nurses to stop the horrendous treatment of people in the last hours of life relegated to a stretcher in a brightly lit busy ER hallway with very minor success. It became a reminder that physicians and nurses are often active participants in institutional acts of torture.
Peter Golden – Board Member Emeritus
Peter worked as a dedicated lawyer for over twenty years in Victoria with an emphasis on immigration and refugee law. He is remembered as a leader and a fierce and loyal advocate for people fleeing hardship and danger. In addition to volunteering for various local organizations Peter travelled abroad to promote international human rights. He also worked as an independent election observer in Mexico and El Salvador.
Alexandra Dawley – Coordinator
Alexandra is passionate about working to reduce barriers of integration for newcomers, specifically promoting holistic, trauma-informed resettlement assistance.
With over nine years’ experience working with refugees, newcomers, asylum seekers, and marginalized populations within Canada, Jordan and Hungary, Alexandra is motivated by meaningful connections shared with survivors of torture. Alexandra holds a Masters in International Social Development (specializing in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies) from University of Sussex (UK). She has experience working with settlement agencies, social justice organizations, the United Nations Refugee Agency, and humanitarian aid groups. Alexandra is the Refugee Settlement and Integration Coordinator at MOSAIC Settlement Agency.