Deborah Hollins

Executive Director

Deborah is a social worker with a rich history of working with marginalized and vulnerable people and community development. She came to NFLA in 2012 with an abiding belief in resilience and healing. As such, she works to cultivate equity, to live a balanced life that is deeply connected to community, and to apply ethical values to actualize meaningful social change.

Contact Deborah:
250-754-3331 ext. 201

Mia Maarika

Programs Coordinator
Volunteer Counselling Program and Senior Peer Counselling Program. (V.C.P. & S.C.P.)

Mia’s background is in Nursing/Psychiatric Nursing. She is a Registered Professional Counsellor. She grew up in Sweden and came to Canada when she was 23 years old. She has been involved at NFLA for 10 years and has coordinated the counselling program for almost 8 years. Her passions are personal growth, spirituality, meditation, nature, books and her awesome children.

Contact Mia:
250-754-3331 ext. 427

Donna Berthiaume

Manager of Financial Services

Donna graduated from VIU with her Associate in Commerce specializing in Accounting. She has an extensive background in both “for profit” and “not for profit” bookkeeping and financial management. Donna was born in Montreal and moved west until she found her home in Nanaimo. Loving the ocean, forests and the people, Nanaimo is the place for her.

Contact Donna:
250-754-3331 ext. 204

Tracey Leslie

Manager of Older Adult Programs
Nanaimo, Lantzville, Gabriola and Ladysmith Regions

Tracey’s passion has been in the field of Recreation Therapy over the past 30+ years, working with the older adult population in various settings across Canada. She feels lucky to have the privilege to serve seniors in our community, enhancing quality of life, and promoting independence and a sense of well-being. Through this work, she has learned how important it is to be in the moment, share experiences, and build a sense of community. Tracey holds a Bachelor of Recreation from Dalhousie University and a Gerontology Diploma from Mount Saint Vincent University. Since residing here in Nanaimo for the past 7 years, Tracey enjoys the opportunity to volunteer in her community (Age Friendly Designation [WHO] for City of Nanaimo), exploring the beautiful island whether hiking, kayaking, or through road trips, taking photos, and playing golf.

Contact Tracey:
250-754-3331 ext. 203

Stefan Jaeger

Program Coordinator
Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (TAPS)

Stefan has recently graduated Vancouver Island University with a Bachelors in Recreation & Tourism Management.  With a background in both public and non-profit recreation delivery, working with TAPS is a natural fit.  Stefan was born on the Island and loves to connect with the beautiful scenery.  He can always be found talking hockey or watching the latest Netflix has to offer.

Contact Stefan:
250-754-3331 ext. 716

Kirsten Brooker

Program Coordinator
Senior Housing Information and Navigation Ease Program (SHINE)

Kirsten first got involved with the Nanaimo Family Life Association through our Volunteer Counselling Program in 2016. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Global Studies from Vancouver Island University where she developed a profound passion for inclusive community development and social advocacy through her involvement with a variety of academic decision-making structures and on-campus organizations. This includes serving as Student Representative on the VIU Board of Governors and VIU Senate, Chairperson for the VIU Students’ Union Local 61 and WUSC Student Refugee Program Resettlement Volunteer. Kirsten has lived in Nanaimo for most of her life and believes that this city has the greatest potential to be a leader for inclusive and sustainable community development in the province.

Contact Kirsten:
250-754-3331 ext. 205

Esther Charlie

Program Coordinator
Indigenous-Informed Sexual Assault Response Program (IISARP)

Esther is Indigenous from the Nlaka’pamux Nation in Lytton, BC. Though she was removed from her traditional territory as a child, she has returned to connect to her extended family, traditional land, and cultural teachings. Today, feeling blessed by the experiences that have influenced the woman she has become. “My passion is and has always been working to support and improve the quality of life for First Nations individuals, families, and communities.”

Esther has resided on Vancouver Island for over 30 years and in the Snuneymuxw Territory for over 20 years. She has been blessed to work with and support several of the Coast Salish Elders, families, and individuals. Many who have generously shared their experience, teachings, and cultural ways. “This has supported my own well-being and provides some understanding of the Indigenous people of this territory.”

Esther brings extensive experience working in First Nation organizations and Community Services providers on and off reserve. She brings over 15 years of experience developing and coordinating programs, group facilitation, trauma counselling, leadership development, and providing support and advocacy to individuals, families, and community members.

“I am honored and look forward to working with the NFLA team and with the partners of this collaborative effort, to develop and coordinate a program and training, that will respect and honor the diversity of Indigenous people who have experienced domestic and sexualized violence.”

Contact Esther:
250-327-9452/ 250-754-3331 ext. 513

Casey Brisson

Gender Journeys

Casey is a transgender enby (non-binary person) who was introduced to NFLA when they first started attending Gender Journeys in December 2018. Originally born in Saskatchewan, they have spent the last 14 years making what feels to be their true home on Vancouver Island. Previously they worked as a copywriter, volunteered with Canada Learning Code, and studied at Vancouver Island University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business and digital media. They are deeply empathetic, passionate about communication and social issues facing LGBTQIA2S+ people, and being involved in the local community. When at all possible, they can be found with their child, making art of all sorts, and writing poetry by the river.

Contact Casey:
250-754-3331 ext. 710

Sarah Comeau

Program Assistant
Better at Home

Originally from Ontario, the mountains and rainforests brought Sarah to the West Coast which she has now called home for close to twenty years. Having studied community development, Sarah desires to effect positive change through authentic relationships with community members and organizations. With a background in client care for people of all ages and backgrounds, she enjoys discovering what makes people who they are and finding ways to assist them in their personal journeys. In her free time, you can usually find Sarah adventuring with her dog, tending to her vegetable garden, and getting lost in creative sewing projects.

Contact Sarah:
250-754-3331 ext. 202

Maria Cerna

Program Assistant
Safe Seniors, Strong Communities (SSSC)

Maria immigrated to Canada in 2008 from Mexico, where family and community are very important pillars in life. She believes that seniors deserve to be safe and secure, and that no one should have to struggle on their own late in life. Maria’s background as a hospice Care Aide in Vancouver, working with patients and their families, has inspired her to continue working in organizations devoted to making communities stronger. She is very happy about being part of Nanaimo Family Life Association team as the SSSC Program Assistant and continue supporting those in need of help and in particular our isolated seniors.

Maria has been in Vancouver Island for over a year. She loves connecting with nature and photographing the many beautiful places around the island.

Contact Maria:
250-754-3331 ext. 209

Angela Turnbull

Program Assistant, IISARP
Administrative Assistant / Reception

Angela came to NFLA driven by a passion for diversity, personal growth, and equality for those who have been systemically and culturally disempowered. She has a diploma in Business Administration and is eager to use her education and various personal life experiences to give back to the community.

After an exciting move from the Alberta Prairies in 2020, Vancouver Island truly feels like home. She enjoys gazing into the ocean, spending time with her partner and dogs, and working in her crochet business.

Contact Angela:
250-754-3331  ext. 207

Josh Drummond

Facilitator – Beyond Blame

Josh has a background in social work working for both Indigenous agencies and non-profit organizations. He has a Masters of Social Work from UVIC and a Bachelors of Social Work from VIU. He has lived his entire life in the Nanaimo/Ladysmith area.

When not at work he loves the hiking, snowboarding, hockey, golf, and spending time with his dog.

Contact Josh:
250-754-3331 ext. 767

Joan Simonton
Administrative Assistant / Reception

After recently retiring, Joan was looking for ways to give back to the community. She started volunteering for a few non-profits in Nanaimo and was impressed by the great work being done by these agencies.  Although her background is in Natural Resource she brings lots of transferable skills and life experience.

After an exciting move from Hinton, Alberta 2018, Joan and her husband enjoy feeding the ducks in Bowen Park, hanging out at the beach, paddling about in her inflatable kayak and weaving the hours away!

Contact Joan:

Heather Foster

Housekeeping Service Provider, Better at Home Program

What better position could there be for someone who enjoys meeting and assisting people along with cleaning/organizing.  Makes my heart sing to see the shear appreciation on our clients faces after a visit.  Although I have had a diverse career, far removed from housekeeping, this retirement career is the best yet! NFLABC brings a wealth of support to our Nanaimo Community and I am honored to be part of the Better at Home Program and look forward to working with the NFLA team.  So very much to learn and do.  Most of my spare time is spent with my three precious granddaughters, along with skating, paddle boarding, hiking and reading a good mystery novel.

Contact Heather:

Denisa Reyes

Housekeeping Service Provider, Better at Home Program

Denisa is a nature lover with an eclectic career background, having worked in public service, therapeutic riding stables, and as a professional photographer. Her greatest passion are Medicine Horses, energy work, and supporting others on their self-healing journey. Denisa believes one’s home is an extension of one’s body and life. Better At Home gives her the opportunity to work with that concept and improve the lives of our clients. By cleaning and organizing a client’s space, she intends to help clear their path to wellbeing and harmony.

Contact Heather: