Each organization is sending a representative to host a table. Here is some information about the people you will meet at this event.
Director, Settlement Services
As a veteran of Canada’s refugee and immigrant settlement sector for over 30 years, Chris Friesen is a frequent speaker, media spokesperson and research collaborator on immigration related policy and program areas.
Besides his role as Director, Settlement Services for ISSofBC, one of Canada’s largest multicultural immigrant serving agencies, Mr. Friesen is presently the Chair of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance (CISSA-ACSEI) and co-chair of Canada’s National Settlement and Integration Council.
Under his tenure with ISSofBC, Chris has been at the forefront as a key leader of the shifting immigration and refugee resettlement changes in BC and Canada. Chris led the multiple aspects of the Syrian resettlement operation in BC as well as playing a key national role in the overall operation. Mr. Friesen was also an instrumental member of the concept and design of the ISSofBC Welcome Centre building in East Vancouver which opened in June 2016. This world class 70,000 sf social purpose-built facility has redefined a new international model for newcomer integration.
Prior to ISSofBC, Mr. Friesen coordinated a British Educational Trust for Refugees based in Nairobi, Kenya. As a UBC student (and graduate BA History and Political Science), Chris successful led in 1985 a referendum on campus to increase the student fees in order to establish a permanent WUSC student refugee scholarship program. This referendum concept has now spread to over 60 post secondary institutions across Canada and has recently been explored globally as part of alternative resettlement pathways (through education) for refugees.
Rowen Siemens is the Communications Officer at the BC Council for International Cooperation. She is grateful for the opportunity to live, work, and play on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded Indigenous territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) peoples. Rowen has a Masters in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has acquired years of writing, research, and communications experience across a range of sectors, including the private, charitable, and the international non-governmental. Directly prior to joining BCCIC, Rowen worked with Minority Rights Group International (MRG) at their headquarters in London. MRG campaigns worldwide to support minority and Indigenous rights.Her graduate research focused on the effects of Canadian legislation on Indigenous rights. Her current work at BCCIC largely involves disseminating information and engaging with the public about the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Valri Wright has been working in the field of Volunteer Engagement since 2002. She is currently the Volunteer Manager at Coast Mental Health where she connects volunteers to clients, who are recovering from mental health and addictions.
Prior to this, she was Volunteer Coordinator at Ronald McDonald House BC and the Volunteer Manager at Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. She has also coordinated volunteers for various arts festivals including The Talking Stick Festival and was on the planning committee for the Celebrate the Arts – Celebrate Volunteerism Conference. She has served in multiple roles on her housing co-op’s Board of Directors and sings in the Burstin’ with Broadway choir
Valri believes that we build community and empower ourselves by volunteering and, as leaders we create strength in an organization by empowering others to lead.
Research & Projects Coordinator
Misha Dhillon, MA, is the Research & Projects Coordinator at the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC). She earned a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of British Columbia, where her research explored sexuality and sexual violence in the lives of young South Asian women in Canada. In her role at EVA BC, she contributes her expertise to numerous projects and initiatives aimed at preventing and improving responses to gender-based violence, including community-based research and the development of training and resources for the anti-violence, health, justice, education, corporate, and settlement sectors.
Facilitator, I Belong Program
Kiana Reyes is a cis, queer, settler of colour who works towards building inclusive spaces and services for gender and sexual minority newcomers on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. She strives to increase representation and inclusion for immigrants and refugees by working alongside community groups and centering their knowledge. Kiana can be found playing on queer sports leagues, and enjoys spending most, if not all, of her time with her puppy, Koda.
Lily Hamilton is a fourth year political sciences student at the University of Victoria. In her first year of university she was looking for ways to become involved with different organizations and to learn about different issues facing women and girls. She found Plan Canada and joined their Youth Speakers’ Bureau in fall 2016. Through the Speakers’ Bureau she was able to learn a lot and got given other opportunities, such as applying to become a Youth Advocate. In 2017 Lily joined the Change the Birth Story campaign as a Youth Advocate. The campaign aims to help mothers and newborn babies have better access to health care in the developing world. She was a mentor for the campaign in 2018 and 2019, and worked as a youth intern for Plan under this campaign in 2019. Through Plan she also participated in Girls Belong Here 2017, where she was paired with a Ontario Minister and got to shadow her for a day. Lily is a life time learner and advocate who hopes to continues to make the world a better place throughout her life. She loves the work Plan does to help women, girls, children, and everyone else! Lily is really happy to be representing them this year and looks forward to sharing Plan International Canada’s work.
Feezah Jaffer has been with the Surrey Food Bank team since 2010, working in client services, development and fundraising, community relations and advocacy. Prior to her receiving her Master’s Degree from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, she spent time in rural Pakistan, working with a prominent NGO, liaising with local agencies, women and youth. There she gained experience and insights into micro-finance, disaster relief, mother & child health and social justice issues. In working with the Surrey Food Bank as its Executive Director, Feezah has had the privilege of meeting people from all different and diverse backgrounds and honing her skills as a policy maker and facilitator looking at the concerns of food security, poverty reduction, mental health and social isolation. Also member of several local community not-for-profit boards and advocacy tables, Feezah is energized and humbled by the work that she does and the difference the Surrey Food Bank makes in the lives of its clients and the greater community.
Chloe supports all the campaign work out of WC’s Vancouver office, from protecting bees, endangered species and forests to stopping Site C and Kinder Morgan’s industrial mega-death projects. She loves working with the Wilderness Committee team. Chloe started out with us as a canvasser in both Victoria and Vancouver. Before that, she worked as lead staff at an outdoor YM-YWCA overnight camp for kids. She finished her ecology degree (B.Sc.) at Bamfield Marine Science Centre, Nuu-chah-nulth territory where she saw the biggest cedars she has ever seen.
And more to be announced!