The Centre for Race and Culture's (CRC) highly educated, experienced and innovative team has decades of expertise helping organizations see the intrinsic value of living and working in a diverse environment. We work closely with clients to gain insights into cultural issues and find practical solutions for workplaces, teams and individuals. Our non-profit, non-denominational, non-partisan status means we're committed to neutrality while building understanding across all cultures and all sectors.
Our staff and facilitators are a diverse and highly competent group from a range of sectors, including social work, education, international development, youth intervention, business, the arts, and health care.
Vanessa de Koninck (PhD, MA, BS)
Vanessa has 20 years’ experience in the complex arena of intercultural collaboration, community advocacy and engagement. She holds a PhD, MA, and BS in Anthropology, all from campuses of the University of California. She has extensive experience working in international contexts, having worked for twelve years with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory of Australia, and from four years as a rural community development volunteer in Papua New Guinea. Her work history spanning both public and non-profit settings, as well as formal training in dispute resolution and mediation, all contribute to her commitment to building equitable relationships in line with CRC's vision and mission.
Kaitlin Lauridsen (MPH, BSc)
Kaitlin has worked with CRC since 2012 in different roles, when she was in the process of completing her Master's degree in Public Health in the area of social inequities. She has experience not only in academic research, but also in on-the-ground facilitation and program development with community grassroots organizations.
Charlene Hay (MEd, BEd)
Charlene is a former teacher who has lived and worked in Africa and an Aboriginal Community in northern Alberta. She has a Masters of Education in sociology and intercultural education. Charlene was the Executive Director of the Centre for Race and Culture from 1997 to 2015.
Charlene has led several research projects on race relations, written teachers' resource booklets, and worked toward systemic change. She has supervised projects raising capacity for youth and adults in understanding and working toward racial and cultural equity.
Ashima Sumaru-Jurf (BA, BEd)
Ashima Sumaru-Jurf has facilitated, coordinated and managed programs related to immigration and migration, adult education, and human resources in the not-for-profit and government sectors. She has worked with communities throughout Alberta to build partnerships around creating inclusive and equitable communities.
Ashima is a self-described “teacher-learner” who is interested in connecting academic research and business knowledge with community and workplace practices. She is passionate about creating education, training and programs that bring together multiple forms of knowledge and assisting communities, organizations and individuals to develop their own strengths-based solutions to the issues they face.
Ian Mathieson (MA)
Ian is an Associate Consultant with the Centre for Race and Culture. Ian has been a facilitator of equity programming, anti-racism, cultural competency, peace-building, and hate crime prevention to thousands of adults and youth in diverse environments. He is well-versed in techniques that use intercultural communication, intercultural conflict transformation, popular education and community dialogue. Ian has worked within organizational environments ranging from law enforcement and educational boards to health care institutions and community NGOs. His academic background includes studies in international peace and conflict in Costa Rica focused on systemic forms of conflict transformation and peace operations, and a second MA with Innsbruck University, Austria in Peace, Development, Security and Conflict Transformation with a focus on Equity education. Ian has training in Civil-Military Coordination with International Peace Support Missions and human rights work experience nationally and internationally.
Nehiyaw Language Program Instructor
Reuben Quinn is currently the Coordinator for the Aboriginal Attendance Circle program and for the Nehiyaw Language Instruction program. Reuben has been working with Aboriginal youth within Edmonton for 16 years. He has been a Cultural coordinator and Cree instructor for Edmonton Public Schools, Mother Earth Children’s Charter School, as well as the Edmonton Young Offender Center.
Reuben grew up in the residential school era and when the Blue Quills School was taken over by Aboriginals, there was a resurgence of language and cultural teachings. Reuben credits the late Mrs. Rosanna Houle for reviving the Nehiyaw (Cree) Cahkipeyihkanah and teaching it to all the students who had been liberated from residential school. The Nehiyaw Cahkipeyihkanah, or as some refer to it ’the Star Chart’, is a tool Reuben uses for teaching the Cree language.
The Star Chart has a myriad of philosophical meaning, numbers, and the teachings arising from its unique structure. All of its significance is explored and discussed in the course of the Cree program.
Eugene Chok (B.B.A C.G.A.)
After completing his Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the Texas Tech University, Eugene immigrated to Canada in search of the good life and an opportunity to develop his skills in the field of accountancy. From 1980 to 2000, he worked as an accountant in both industry and government organizations. Along the way, he picked up a professional Accountancy Designation with the Certified General Accountant Association of Alberta. In 2000, he accepted an offer to work as an accountant with The Alberta Lung Association and has continued working in the non-profit sector since. He admires the strong commitment that NGO workers hold toward their cause and plans to finish his career in this sector. In his spare time, he teaches Tai Chi Chuan to seniors at the Chinese Freemason Association in Edmonton.