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Our Vision

Inclusive and gender-equitable communities living violence-free.

 

The Circle has been working for over two decades to prevent violence in all forms. All of our work is based on solid research and evaluation. We create, nurture and share strategies and solutions for violence prevention. We’re a registered charity in Canada.

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Our Vision  

We envision inclusive and gender-equitable communities living violence-free. 

Our Mission

The Circle fosters healthy relationships in order to promote communities free of violence, bullying, discrimination, assault and abuse.

We do this by delivering innovative, evidence-based social-emotional educational programs for children, youth and adults and inspiring and training others to deliver our programs. 

Our Roots  

The Circle, originally known as SWOVA, has worked for more than two decades to address violence in all forms. The organization was founded as a ‘wake-up call’ for action against gender-based violence and became a champion of information on individual rights and protection.

The Circle believes that all human being should be free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles, and prejudices. Its vision is for diverse, inclusive, gender-equitable, and violence-free communities.

Violence prevention became the organization’s focus. This led us to develop educational programs and awareness initiatives to address discrimination and violence based on gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and ability. Our program encourage youth to challenge assumptions and learn skills that foster healthy, equal relationships.

In 2020, SWOVA became The Circle. Our new name reflects a key feature of our long-time work. When our facilitators meet with students, they gather in a circle! In a circle, everyone is equal, able to look one another in the eyes and listen fully.

Our Team

Staff

Janine Fernandes-Hayden

Janine Fernandes-Hayden

Executive Director

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Janine holds a master’s degree in Educational Psychology and a BC Teaching Certificate. She has experience in strategic planning and organizational development, program management, grant writing and reviewing, among other areas. Janine started her career with the Ministry of Education where she worked for more than eight years. Since coming to Salt Spring Island, Janine has taught in classrooms, served as the Chair of the SSI Foundation’s Grants Advisory Committee for several years, and coordinated communications and projects for Volunteer and Community Resources (VCR) on behalf of the island’s 200+ not-for-profit organizations.

Janine has lived on Salt Spring Island since 2004 with her husband, Richard. Now as not only an educator but also a mother with 4 children, the work that The Circle does is incredibly important not only for the benefit of her children and the children of her community, but for all of our children.

 

Kate Nash

Kate Nash

Program Facilitation, Training, and Development

Kate has been working with The Circle since 2010. She has developed, nurtured, and grown the Pass It On program into a successful project that has touched the lives of over 200 youth from Grades 8 to 12 since its beginning.

She has facilitated many of The Circle’s programs and helped develop its curricula to better meet the needs of youth. With the help of the youth team in 2010, she created the annual Pass It On fundraiser, Sparkfest.

Kate has gotten to know may of the island’s youth by teaching theatre, play building, and improv for a decade. Empowering youth to share though all mediums is her passion and is what motivates her in her work. Kate lives in an old school bus with her three amazing children and gorgeous husband on a farm with many animals.

Erin Lee

Erin Lee

Bookkeeper, Administrative Coordinator

Erin has worked with The Circle team since 2016, providing support to financial and administrative systems.

She has lived on the island since 2010. She enjoys a busy life with her husband, Darren, and three young children.

Erin brings an understanding of the needs of our island children and youth through her community involvement with the Co-op preschool, SS baseball, and Fernwood PAC.

Marcia Jansen

Marcia Jansen

Communications and Event Coordinator

Marcia is our Communications and Event Coordinator since July 2021. She moved with her husband and two daughters – who are both attending high school in SD64 now – from the Netherlands to Salt Spring Island in 2012    

As a swim team coach for the Salt Spring Stingrays, Marcia knows and understands youth realities of living on a small island.

Marcia has 25+ years of experience in writing and communication for Dutch and Canadian media outlets – most recently the Driftwood – and non-for-profits.

Facilitators

Eland Bronstein

Eland Bronstein

Pass It On Boys Facilitator

Eland is one of the leaders of our Pass It On program at Bullock Lake Farm. Eland grew up on Salt Spring and could usually be found on the soccer field or the basketball court. After studying Kinesiology and playing soccer at Capilano University, he eventually graduated from UBC. He then spent many years travelling all over the world, working and volunteering in communities along the way. Eland returned to Salt Spring Island to help run Duck Creek Farm with his family. Eland has a wife and a young son who help keep everyday fun. Eland is honoured and excited to work with the young men in his community.

Sophia Gregory

Sophia Gregory

Pass It On Boys Coordinator

 

Sophia Gregory is a young farmer interested in agroecology, equitable food systems, education, and community building. She holds a degree in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences from McGill University and first came to Salt Spring through a student internship at Bullock Lake Farm.

Sophia has now farmed at Bullock Lake Farm for three seasons, developing her skills as a farmer and Community Supported Agriculture manager. In 2021, she was accepted into the Pathy Foundation fellowship program and is working to develop a community outreach and youth education program on the farm, as well as establishing a non-profit organization to support future programming.

Sophia is excited about this year’s partnership between The Circle and Bullock Lake Farm and is eager to support the PIO Boys program in her role as program coordinator.

 

Zack Hemstreet

Zack Hemstreet

Pass It On Boys Facilitator

Zack grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, leaving as a young adult to pursue a long and varied path that led him to Salt Spring twelve years ago. Along the way, he travelled the world, seeking exciting adventures and opportunities including working as a research diver in Central America, doing restoration ecology work in Sri Lanka, and working in a youth wilderness and ecology camp in Alaska. Zack attended university as an adult studying Social Ecology and Interamerican Studies at a small university in Burlington, Vermont.

Zack and his wife Molly are the founders of Bullock Lake Farm. For the last ten years, they have been running Bullock Lake Farm predominantly as a Community Supported Agriculture farm, bringing a variety of opportunities, programs, classes, and events to the SSI community. Zack is a parent to two elementary-aged children and is thrilled to be a facilitator for the Pass It On Boys program.

 

Kk Labis

Kk Labis

Pass It On Girls Facilitator

Kk is our new facilitator at the Pass It On Girls Program. Kk began dreaming of facilitating programs like Pass It On while she was traveling throughout her early twenties. When she returned, she and her friend started a small camp for girls in Grades 6-8 called The Glitter Queens.  The program ran for a year and a half and brought people together to create community, share skills and be exposed to diverse opportunities and interests. From this work, she found her passion in working with youth and has been working as a comprehensive sex and sexual health educator for two years. Kk has her own business tattooing by hand on the island called Hand Poked With Love.

 

Our Volunteer Board

Dr. Eric Ellis

Dr. Eric Ellis

Board Chair

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After 50 years as a child psychologist specializing in child protection, co-parenting five now adults, and supporting five and soon to be six grandchildren, three of whom brought me to the Island, I recognize implicitly the value of what The Circle has created and am honoured to contribute to nurturing its development.

Heidi Cowan

Heidi Cowan

Vice Chair

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In 2003, Heidi moved to Salt Spring Island where she and her husband Michael reside with their three daughters on their permaculture farm, 7 Ravens. The farm, a permaculture school for many years, has schooled many individuals from all over the globe in permaculture principles, food security, and self-reliance. Heidi’s deep connection to nature and passion for nurturing their land has provided her a strong foundation for years of teaching and mentoring young people in sustainable living practices and permaculture.

Heidi has a BFA from Emily Carr University. Her creative design background supported her interest in natural building techniques and eco house design, and in 2012, she built a Hempcrete home where her and her family live, under solar power, off the grid.

Heidi, a former member of the Canadian National Development Ski Team and winner of Canadian National High School rowing championships in single skulls has dedicated countless hours mentoring and coaching youths (5–18) in various sporting pursuits, including skiing, soccer, and rowing.

Today, Heidi splits her time creating small, eco-friendly home designs; working on the family farm and permaculture business; and volunteering as a sports coach and, now, with The Circle. Heidi has seen firsthand the profound benefits of The Circle’s programs for our community’s youth through her daughters’ participation and is proud and excited to be part of such an organization.

Eric Dempster

Eric Dempster

Treasurer

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Eric is married and has two sons. Last year, he retired and he and his wife moved from Edmonton back to the BC coast after a 12-year absence.

Before Edmonton, they lived in Vancouver for many years. They’ve owned property on Salt Spring since 2011 but now live on the island pretty much full time.

Eric is a Chartered Accountant with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from UBC.  He has worked in a few different industries during his career. His last role was as Chief Financial Officer of a fairly large private company with operations across Canada and overseas in Mongolia. He’s glad to be retired but does miss the people with whom he used to work. Having said that, Eric and his wife have met so many terrific people on Salt Spring. They consider themselves very fortunate to be here, and Eric really appreciates the opportunity to join The Circle’s Board of Directors.

Bill Stedwill, MEd

Bill Stedwill, MEd

Secretary

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Bill is currently Vice President of GloverStedwill & Associates, a consulting firm for not-for-profit associations, along with his partner, Wayne Glover, CAE.  Previously Bill was employed by AssociationsFirst Ltd as an Education Specialist.  AssociationsFirst provided a range of services to not-for-profits ranging from membership database management to running conferences to strategic planning for boards of directors.

In particular, Bill provided education consulting advice to those associations offering certification programs for their members, working with education committees and course instructors in improving instruction and evaluation.

Prior to work with not-for-profit associations, Bill served as an Education Consultant for several boards of Education in Ontario.  This involved curriculum review, development, and implementation with school principals and teachers.  He was also a Team Leader for a family of schools which included curriculum specialists, behaviour counsellors, speech therapists, and social workers.  Related to The Circle’s work, he was responsible several years ago for implementing the Ontario Ministry’s first resource guide for principals and teachers in identifying students experiencing family violence and the school’s responsibilities in reporting to appropriate authorities.

James Cowan

James Cowan

Director-at-Large

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James grew up on Vancouver Island and moved to Salt Spring with his wife and daughter in 2008. For 20 years James has worked producing concerts and festivals in and around Western Canada (mostly). More recently James has started doing project management for residential construction and community initiatives on Salt Spring. He has also worked as a paramedic with BC Ambulance for over 15 years.

James is active in the community and has produced dozens of fundraising concerts and events over the years, as well as managing the Salt Spring Film Festival. He has been a board member of Salt Spring Gymnastics since 2011 and helps coach and organize the Tsunami Circus program at the Middle School.

James is outside a lot. You can often find him kayaking, surfing, mountain biking, hiking or playing music.

James has been involved with the Sparkfest events since its inception. He’s passionate about The Circle’s work and goals, and joined the board to support the organization reaching their goals.

Kim Dalton

Kim Dalton

Director-at-Large

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Kim is an Opt-Certified Sexual Health Educator who specializes in working with school-age children, youth and folks with disabilities. She has been educating students and parents about consent, safety, and positive sexuality since 2016 when she founded, “Spice of Life Sexual Health Education.”

Her family moved from Toronto to Salt Spring 20 years ago. She and her partner raised their two children here, who are now adults. Her children went through the “Respectful Relationships” programs through SWOVA and greatly benefitted from them.

Kim’s passion is justice in all its forms, but especially justice and safety for children. She hosts family gatherings on Salt Spring for parents and cargivers with non-binary and two spirit children. She cares deeply for the LGBTQ2S+ and BIPOC communities and is grateful to live on beautiful Salt Spring Island.

She also loves laughing, sailing, babies, hiking, and chocolate!

Kim is very honoured to be a Dirctor-at-Large with The Circle.

Lorna Fraser

Lorna Fraser

Director-at-Large

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Lorna Fraser is the newest member at our board of directors. She is currently acting vice-principal and primary teacher at Fernwood. Lorna is from the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation located in Klemtu BC. Her traditional name, given by her grandmother when she was sixteen, is Kw’ith Libaatkw’ which means ‘to give back’. “The notion of ‘giving’ was one that resonated with me when I read about and attended my first board meeting of The Circle. The society gives back in a number of ways with youth. I felt it was the place where I could begin to uphold my cultural responsibility to my adopted community and territory.”  

 

 

 

Support our Work

Your contributions allow us carry out our vital work in our community. Be part of building healthy relationships for now and the future and creating inclusive and gender-equitable communities living violence-free.