From the Spring of 2016 until the present, VICCIR has grown exponentially. Now we have a group of trauma-trained counsellors and translators who are surrounded by a family of consultants, volunteers and other supporters. We have a home, collaborative connections with many organizations. We have established an identity in the community as helpful, responsive, effective. We are incorporated as a society in British Columbia as C.C.I.R. Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees Association. That is a big name for a not-for-profit group with a charitable purpose.
The hard work continues. As final steps are taken towards federal charitable status, we are pleased to introduce our new Board of Directors, one that will continue to support our immediate goals: to assist refugees and immigrants heal their wounds of trauma, and to support efforts in our communities to assist with their integration. We hold tight to the vision of communities that share common values but thrive on diversity – of origin, culture, religion, interests.
Board of Directors
Adrienne Carter M.S.W, R.C.S.W,
Director of Services
No doubt, Adrienne’s attunement to refugees is rooted in personal experience. In 1956, she and her parents escaped from Hungary during the Revolution, first fleeing to refugee camps and then to Canada. They had nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Adrienne was a young teen.
She acquired a graduate degree in Social Work (McGill), and worked for more than two decades with the Victoria Child and Youth Mental Health team as a senior therapist. Her overseas work began at the University of Nigeria as an instructor in Social Work. Then, beginning in 1999, Adrienne had fifteen missions with Doctors Without Borders in many parts of the world. In all sites, she established mental health projects to provide help to those traumatized by war and natural disasters. She recruited, trained and supervised local counsellors.
In 2011 she began work with the Centre for Victims of Torture as a psychotherapist/trainer, first in Kenya and then in Jordan where she worked for more than two years providing supervision and training to local Jordanian counsellors, who, in turn provided individual and group counselling to traumatized Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
With Linda McLagan, Adrienne has provided trainings in Hong Kong and Tokyo to audiences that include professionals from various Asian countries. Since 2015, and sponsored by the United Palestinian Appeal, she has trained and supervised counsellors who are working to assist traumatized kindergarten aged children in the Gaza Strip – via Skype.
Phil N. Rossner (aka Avinash)
Director of Communications
Phil Rossner has been involved as a volunteer for many human-rights and environmental agencies over the years, including Amnesty International, Victoria Coalition for the Survivors of Torture, Victoria Inter-Cultural Association, The Sierra Club, etc. Phil is a musician and promoter and has staged many music-based fundraising events, including Blues for Kosovo, which featured Jim Byrnes, and Bay of Bengal Tsunami Fundraiser with veteran Canadian band Chilliwack.
Phil has been a guitarist/singer/songwriter for almost 50 years and has released a number of his recordings, most recently his song/chant CD, “Full Teaching of the Heart.” His work career spanned all phases of “high technology,” including computer & electronics technology. He is also a writer, website and print designer.
Phil has also been the facilitator of Meditation & Mindfulness groups for over 15 years and is the teacher at Sooke Meditation & Mindfulness as well as the facilitator of Sooke Sacred Chant.
Robin Pike MA, RSW
Robin has a 30-year background in child welfare within both government and community agencies, and holds a Master of Arts degree in Human and Social Development from the University of Victoria.
Robin joined British Columbia’s Ministry of Children and Family Development in 1999 to develop services for a large group of migrant youth arriving off BC’s coast from Fujian Province, China.
In July 2007, Robin joined BC’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General to open Canada’s first government-based Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The Office is jointly funded by the Solicitor General and the province’s Child Protection ministry, and is responsible for the development and coordination of services for trafficked persons across government departments, community agencies, law enforcement, and academia.
Robert (Bob) McNamara B.Com (Hons.)
Bob is a retired Chartered Accountant with 40 years of experience in public accounting. He was fortunate to join a Winnipeg accounting firm on his graduation from university in 1973 and retired in 2013 as a partner. His career gave him significant experience with various not for profit agencies, governmental entities and small and medium business.
His volunteer activities include being a member of the finance committee, then treasurer and then president of St. John Ambulance Manitoba council and member of the national council. He has also volunteered with the United Way of Winnipeg, his professional organization and condominium entities.
“I have been a Victoria resident since 2015 and am very happy to be able to assist in the good works being done by VICCIR in our new home city.”
Dale Robertson MEd
John’s experience spans forty years, serving a broad population base, ranging from Pediatrics, Child & Youth Mental Health, Adult & Geriatric Psychiatry, as well as Forensic Psychiatry. John has worked in a variety of community, public and private institutional settings in both the USA & Canada. Prior to his work in government, his clinical work was with the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health and included Child/Youth Mental Health Services, Respite Rehab and the Preschool Program. John has been retired for the past two years from government where he was employed as Director of Corporate Services and as an Operational Review Analyst with the Financial and Decision Support Services Branch, MCFD where his role was to review Ministry Programs in order to assist Senior Policy makers as well as Program Management staff with decisions involving a broad range of issues.
John has received a degree in Social Work from the University of Victoria, BC, a degree in Sociology from Los Angeles Valley College, and is a graduate from a Psychiatric Nursing Program in the U.S.A.
John brings with him well-developed skills in the areas of project management, strategic planning, team building, labour relations, clinical assessment & audit, presentation, contracting, community development and computer applications.
Sally was born and raised in the US, has lived part-time on Vancouver Island since 1984 and full time since 2001. She was a teacher for twenty-five years at the high school, middle school, community college, and university levels. Her bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in ecology are both from Arizona State University. She has taught in Arizona, in Alaska for twenty years, and at the Maxwell International Bahai School on Shawnigan Lake from 2001-2008. While in Shawnigan Lake Sally was on the board of directors for Partners for Prosperity.
She currently lives in Victoria where she is a visual artist painting primarily landscapes. Her Bahai beliefs shape her worldview towards ideals such as the unity of mankind, the elimination of all forms of prejudice, the equality of men and women, and that ‘the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens’. For Sally, VICCIR embraces all of these ideals.
Ghassan Wafai MD
Ghassan was born and raised in Homs – Syria, volunteered in several organizations, including, the Syrian Red Cross and Crescent and Al Rajaa for people with special needs and disabilities.
Ghassan started his medical school at University of Kalamoon – Syria in 2008, where he was president of one of the student’s activity clubs (Reach out Club), and then continued his education in Egypt 2012 where he got his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBCh) in 2016.
During his stay in Egypt, Ghassan became the Local Officer on Public health through the “International Federation of Medical student Association”.
Currently, Ghassan lives in Victoria where he works as a research assistant at PerCuro Clinical research Ltd. and working toward entering the Canadian Medical Residency by challenging the national licensing examinations.
“I truly believe that VICCIR is playing a crucial part in all the immigrants and refugees lives, as most of them need a way to be able to move on from their past experiences, memories and trauma. This is a huge obstacle and very difficult to overcome, this is where VICCIR comes to the picture”
Sara Kharsa MD
Sara attended university in Syria to become a medical doctor, then continued her studies and graduated from Egypt before arriving to Canada in 2016.
During the medical school years in Egypt, she joined the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA) as a volunteer in the public health committee and later on was assigned to the Local Officer on Research Exchange position.
She also volunteered in organizing different campaigns in public health, human rights and peace, women’s health and mental health.
Sara has a great interest in Mental Health and believes in Cultural integration, and she is also part of the team of interpreters at VICCIR.
Please feel free to contact us, we are here to help. We maintain offices in Victoria and in Duncan.
Join Our Team
We welcome your contribution to our family of volunteers, and to our team of counsellors and translators.
Your contribution will help us enrich Vancouver Island’s integrated communities and strengthen those who live in them.