Deborah Hollins
Executive Director of Nanaimo Family Life Association.

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 (201)

Mia Maarika
Programs Coordinator for the Volunteer Counselling Program and Senior Peer Counselling Program at Nanaimo Family Life Association.

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 (203)

Donna Berthiaume
Manager of Financial Services at Nanaimo Family Life Association.

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 (204)

Tracey Leslie
Senior Program Coordinator of the Better at Home Program for Nanaimo Family Life Association.

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 (202)

Sacia Burton
TAPS Program Coordinator for Nanaimo Family Life Association.

Sacia brings a diverse array of experience to their role from time spent in politics, nonprofit, hospitality, and tourism. They are passionate about good food and spending time in nature. Sacia holds a BA in Politics and Philosophy from Vancouver Island University. Though originally hailing from Prince Edward Island, Sacia has called Snuneymuxw/Nanaimo home for 10 years. In their spare time, Sacia enjoys longboarding, embroidery, yoga, kayaking, and admiring sea creatures in the intertidal zone.

They use she/they pronouns.

Contact Sacia:
250-754-3331 (716)

Kirsten Brooker
Seniors Housing Navigator for NFLA’s Senior Housing Information and Navigation Ease Program.

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 (427)

Anne Taylor
Program Manager for the Gender Journeys Program and Indigenous-Informed Sexual Assault Response Program.

Anne moved to the Island 8 years ago and is extremely grateful to be able to live, work, and play on the unseeded territory of Snuneymuxw First Nations. She is a social worker by training and brings almost 40 years of experience of counselling, consultation, program development, and training from a feminist and holistic perspective. Much of her work has focused on addressing childhood trauma as well as gender-based violence. Anne has worked extensively with marginalized people including the LBGTQUIA2S+ communities. She has spent many years partnering with Indigenous communities across Canada in an effort to promote reconciliation by addressing the intergenerational trauma wrought by the legacy of residential schools. Anne thrives in a collaborative, creative, and innovative environment. She is passionate about justice, equity, inclusion, and ensuring the dignity of all. In her spare time, Anne can be found puttering around her garden, sitting by the ocean, or taking slow forest walks with her partner.

Contact Anne:
250-754-3331 (717)

Esther Charlie
Program Coordinator for 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 (513)

Casey Brisson
Facilitator of the Gender Journeys support group.

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 (710)

Sarah Cameron
Gender Journeys Outreach Community Support Worker.
Sarah has spent most of her life on Vancouver Island and has lived on the traditional territory of Snuneymuxw First Nation for 14 years. For the last six years, Sarah has worked in Mental Health and Addictions, and she has a passion for advocating for people affected by addiction. Sarah enjoys teaching and being a helper, and draws on decades of experience as a music teacher and performing musician. She is a member of the Community Advisory Group of TransCareBC, and member of Nanaimo’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility and Inclusiveness as a representative of transgender and gender nonconforming community members. In recent years, she has very much enjoyed her work as a facilitator for a local gender support group. As a vocal advocate who is visible and out in her community, Sarah educates allies, supports other transgender and nonbinary folks, and celebrates our LGBTQIA2+ community.

Contact Sarah:
250-754-3331 (425)

Zoe Paterson
Safe Seniors, Strong Communities Program Assistant.

Zoe was born in Victoria, BC and raised in the Errington/Parksville/Qualicum area. She has lived on the island her whole life. Zoe has always strived to lead with compassion and advocates for inclusion wherever she possibly can. Before starting a family of her own in 2010, Zoe had the opportunity to travel and experience many cultures. Zoe’s most transformative trip was a stint spent volunteering at an orphanage in Ghana for six months when she was 18 years old. Zoe has been working from home as an Administrative Assistant for the last eight years. She is looking forward to helping vulnerable members of our community access the resources and supports available to them through NFLA. Zoe currently lives in Lantzville with her spouse and three children. In her spare time, you can find her chicken farming, cooking, exercising, and juggling busy mom life with her kids and dogs. Zoe believes a healthy family life is at the core of a healthy community.

Contact Zoe:
250-754-3331 (209)

Hannah Smith
Program Assistant for the Indigenous-Informed Sexual Assault Response Program (IISARP)

Hannah Smith started off with NFLA in July 2020 as the administrative assistant. She has recently moved into a Program Assistant role with the Indigenous-Informed Sexual Assault Response Program and is very excited to be moving up in the organization.

She brings passion and dedication to all that she does. She holds a certificate in Administration/Office Procedures and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing.

When she’s not in the office, Hannah can be found in the woods or on the beach with her two dogs. When not outdoors, she enjoys all sorts of creative pursuits, from embroidering to writing to crafting polymer jewelry.

Contact Hannah: 
250-754-3331 (513)

Karley Burrows
Administrative Assistant and Social Media Coordinator at NFLA

Karley Burrows has joined Nanaimo Family Life Association in 2021. She has a background in Event Management, and Social Media Marketing from Mount Royal University in Calgary. She has been an online ESL teacher for children across the world for the past few years. Working with children and helping them reach their personal goals has always been a passion of hers. While being new to Nanaimo she is adapting very quickly to the Island lifestyle. She enjoys anything that gets her outdoors enjoying the sun. When she’s not in the woods you can find her at the front desk where she will be ready to assist you in accessing the organizations list of resources and opportunities available!

Contact Karley

Covid-19 Hours and Response

Our current hours of operation are Monday to Thursday, 9:00--4:00 pm.

We are open to the public on a limited basis. Only 2 people may be in the waiting room at a time. If full, please wait outside or in your car.

If you have any cold, influenza, or Covid-19 symptoms, you will not be permitted into the building.

We continue to practice social distancing. Please maintain 2 metres distance. Face masks are mandatory.

Our counselling program continues to operate, offering sessions over the phone, online, and in person. Walk-in counselling is unavailable at this time. If you are in need of counselling support, please call us at (250) 754-3331 or email Mia at

If you are an older adult, aged 65+, looking for support at this time, please visit Safe Seniors, Strong Communities website.

Safe Seniors, Strong Communities Website