Janice Abbott is the executive director of Atira Women's Resource Society, a single mandate organization the mission of which is the elimination of all forms of violence against women and children. Since becoming the executive director of Atira, Janice has lead the organization from a single transition house located in South Surrey to a large, multi-service agency with 11 sites located across the Lower Mainland and more than 20 programs. Described by the Vancouver Sun as one of Canada’s leading social entrepreneurs, Abbott conceived of and launched Atira Property Management Inc.in 2002. Atira Property Management Inc. is a wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary of Atira Women's Resource Society. All of the profits earned by the property management company are donated to Atira Women's Resource Society to support its social profit activities. Janice is of Secwepemc, Norwegian and other ambiguous ancestry. She is mostly happy and mostly harmless.
“I believe in the power of stories to to transform us, and our world. In fashioning our stories, we give ourselves a better sense of who we are, and what we value. In telling our stories, we take a stand, because they express not only our perspective on the world as it is, but also on how we think it should be. For far too long, too many Aboriginal stories have been told by people outside of their communities, and are thus stories about them, rather than their own. It is my hope that our project can offer a place for Aboriginal youth to tell and be strong in their own stories.
Paul Abbott is a teacher and a counselor. He has been teaching students from almost every corner of the globe for 15 years. Currently, he works at a community college in Vancouver, in a bridge program for foreign students who wish to attend university in Canada, teaching reading, research, presentation, and writing skills. As a counselor, Paul has worked with First Nations clients, and his long-term interests are in supporting aboriginal peoples in their struggle for social, political, and economic justice in Canada.
Michelle Houle is many things to many people. To some, she is a wall to get through when they want to see the Executive Director. To others, she is an accidental techie whose skills rival, well, someone who doesn’t have a degree in computers but knows her way around and knows who to call. Others know her for her quilting, love of photography and scrapbooking, and her all-around craftiness. Some even know her as a recently converted exercise fanatic, but don’t get her started on that topic. A know-it-all of epic proportions, Michelle is an unusual collection of atoms that manifests itself as a short-ish, mostly brown hair-ish, bespectacled woman in her 40’s who's rather fun to have around in a serious yet amusing kind of way.
Amber is a legal advocate for Atira Women's Resource Society in Vancouver's downtown eastside. Before this she obtained a law degree from University of British Columbia and a Master’s in law at the University of Victoria. Amber’s interests in school and life have centered on women, Aboriginal peoples, and other (non-human) animals. Amber lives in Burnaby but has spent most of her life in Prince George, BC, and is a member of the Sucker Creek First Nation in Enilda, Alberta. Amber spends most of her free time with her horse Cadence, and enjoys the company of her four-legged relatives in general. Amber was drawn to Bridges to Understanding Canada because of its potential to connect youth, and raise awareness and understanding of issues affecting youth, especially marginalized youth.
Fei is a graduate of Simon Fraser University, majoring in Interactive Arts. She is currently working at Atira Women's Resource Society as the Communications Coordinator. She first heard of the Digital Storytelling Project in the winter of 2006 at a pilot workshop. She had a chance to make her own digital story and greatly enjoyed the experience. The approach to creating a story was very similar to past projects she had completed at SFU and she hopes to carry over her experience to help in future workshops.
Charles is a computer technician and web support for the Digital Storytelling Project. He graduated with a Computer Systems Technology Diploma from BCIT and has completed his undergrad at Simon Fraser University. He believes that the internet is the best solution to share everyone's thoughts and achievements.