Our VisionInclusive 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.
We envision inclusive and gender-equitable communities living violence-free.
The Circle fosters healthy relationships in order to promote communities free of violence, bullying, discrimination, assault and abuse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Empathy Project Facilitator
Daniel has been working as a Teacher On Call in School District #64 since 2016, after obtaining his Bachelor of Education from Vancouver Island University. Before arriving on Salt Spring, he worked predominantly in the journalism industry, though he’s also had numerous jobs working with youth, from camp counsellor to soccer referee.
Daniel is actively involved in the theatre and soccer communities on Salt Spring and will take advantage of any opportunity to bring either (or both) of these into the classroom. He’s also pleased, since beginning work with The Circle in late 2018, to have the chance to bring the message of violence prevention and community engagement to the young people of this district.
Pass It On Boys Facilitator
Alex is a world-renowned musician, a music producer, and an entrepreneur. He’s founder and CEO of YogiTunes. As a musician, his focus is community building and self-empowerment. He has had the honour and privilege of leading and mentoring in Southern Oregon where he helped build a flourishing community of men and youth. Alex thrives in the place of continuous curiosity and compassionate guidance where youth are concerned. He sees that the world deeply needs emotionally literate men to model transparency, vulnerability, and compassion to young men and boys. He believes that, with the right kind of care and attention, the momentum of violence and ignorance can be turned around in a generation.
As a facilitator, Alex brings the following skills: listening, building trust, being in integrity with others, admitting fault and taking responsibility, handling conflict well and seeing it as an opportunity to deepen in connection, learn about himself and others, and be creative about exploring boundaries and negotiating needs.
Pass It On Boys Facilitator
Albert was born and raised on San Juan Island, WA. He has a deep appreciation for nature—something he carries into all his work. He holds a bachelors degree in engineering and sustainable design, a certificate in outdoor leadership and survival, and multiple permaculture certificates. He is a certified yoga teacher, has completed training in non-violent communication, and even spent time as a Buddhist monk! Albert worked as an outdoor guide for nearly a decade and has assisted in large-scale ecological design projects. His debut children’s book will be released in March 2021 (Shambhala Publications).
Albert believes that each and every one of us is beautifully designed for deep connection. His ultimate mission is to empower, inspire, and support individuals and communities to live fully, create brilliantly, and connect deeply—to ourselves, to each other, and to the earth.
Our Volunteer Board
Dr. Eric Ellis
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.
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 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 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 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.
Gail has lived on Salt Spring Island since 1984. She earned a master’s degree in education and has taught in the public and private school systems on island for over 30 years.
She currently enjoys teaching the Grade 4/5 nature-based program at Salt Spring Elementary School. Gail was involved in the early days of the Virtues Project as a contributor and has been a VP Facilitator for 25 years. For the last 4 years, Gail has served as a board member of the Salt Spring Conservancy and considers herself an amateur naturalist.
She has hosted Peace Kids, now called The Empathy Project, in her classroom for the past many years as an important facet contributing to her students’ social-emotional learning. Gail’s children, Helena, a teacher and counsellor in Nelson, and Arlo, doing grad work in Forestry at UBC, were born and raised on the goodness of Salt Spring.
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.
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.