The Centre for Race and Culture’s 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-partisan status means we’re committed to neutrality while building understanding across all cultures and sectors.
Our staff and facilitators are a diverse and highly competent group from various sectors, including applied social science, education, international development, youth intervention, business, the arts, and health care. Our current staff members are:
Yihua (they/them) is a Chinese-immigrant settler living on Treaty 6 territory in amiskwaciwâskahikan, also known as Edmonton. Previously they have been in various roles with the provincial government doing research, policy development, and project management. Yihua is also a community organizer and works with non-profits and grass roots community collectives to develop and deliver anti-oppressive education and workshops. Along with their role at CFRAC, Yihua works part time as case worker supporting vulnerable Albertans. As a member of the QTBIPOC+ community, Yihua believes in creating a more just and equitable future for all.
Leslie Obol MDES, PhD
Red-haired and freckled with French (Franco-Saskatchewanian), British, and Scottish ancestry, Leslie (she/her) is a settler here on Turtle Island. The youngest of three sisters, she grew up in rural Carrot Creek Alberta attending a k-12 school in Niton: her mother was a teacher and her father a truck driver. Her roots have extended to many places in Canada and abroad including Amiskwacîwâskahikan in Treaty 6 territory, which she considers her home, and Lira District, Uganda, her home away from home.
With a background that combines art/design and education, Leslie’s experience intersects post-secondary education, community engagement, and curriculum design through a commitment to fostering intercultural understanding and creative expression. She has honed a dynamic career across cultures, disciplines, knowledges and geographies: one centred on making connections and building community through creative and collaborative interventions for social change.
Leslie has lived experiences of diversity that she has obtained in multiple ways: living and learning in Mali, Senegal, Uganda, and Canada (Montreal, Halifax, Edmonton); working in the non-profit and education sectors; participating in francophone and multicultural communities wherever she resides; and through living life in a multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-lingual family of artists including her 4 young children.
Leslie joined our team in January 2022 as a Project Coordinator for the Unmasking Micro-inequities project. After a three-year hiatus in K’jipuktuk (Halifax), Leslie is excited to return to Edmonton to support anti-oppression work with her new CFRAC community.
Litzy has worked in the field of international education for the past 15 years managing a variety of projects overseas, primarily in Latin America. She started her work in the intercultural field in 2001, when working with students from Asia and Latin America and helping them adjust to Canadian society. Litzy specializes in intercultural competency, cross-cultural intelligence, diversity, equity & inclusion, and anti-racism education and consulting. She also teaches an online course on Cross Cultural Intelligence at NAIT.
Litzy has her Master’s in Latin American Studies at the University of Chile, where her primary focus of research for her thesis and other publications was the Chilean Exile to Canada. She also has a B.A. in Psychology from a University in Canada. She has received training from the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication in Portland, Oregon and is completed a Certificate in Intercultural & Diversity studies through the University of British Columbia. Besides her experience in Canada, Litzy has lived and worked in Chile, Mexico and Cuba and is fluent in Spanish.
Litzy was a board member for the Centre for Race and Culture from 2018-2020 and most recently a facilitator.
Serafina King is currently finishing her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a minor in History at MacEwan University. She is passionate about the intersection between historical knowlege and current societal issues. Serafina is the project assistant for the Challenging Discrimination and Bridging the Intercultural Gap projects. She has been working at CFRAC since May 2021.
Business Development Officer
Business Development Officer
Shalina is a current student passionate about working with others to learn and achieve a greater goal. She is completing her Bachelor of Commerce at MacEwan University with a major in Accounting and a minor in Business Intelligence.
Shalina began her work with CFRAC this past Summer of 2021 as an intern. She now continues her work with CFRAC to develop business and marketing strategies, mainly for the consulting social enterprise. This is Shalina’s first time working for a non-profit, and she enjoys the various projects and challenges that come her way.
Indigenous Education Specialist
Indigenous Education Specialist
Josh Morin is a youth leader within the Métis Nation. Born and raised in the Edmonton Area. Josh has dedicated the past 5 years to provide Indigenous led workshops to community members such as Moccasin Making, Finger weaving and Michif language classes as well as running the day to day operations at Michif Cultural Connections the Métis Cultural Centre in St. Albert. Josh is also the grandson of honourable Senator Thelma Chalifoux, the first Indigenous woman appointed to the Canadian Senate. His family has long historical roots in St. Albert and Lac St Anne dating back to the communities earliest iterations and are very proud of their strong Métis culture and history they carry in Treaty 6 territory and the Métis homeland. Currently Josh sits as an active member on Pearson’s Publishing Canada Indigenous Advisory Circle and is the newest team member to join CFRAC as the Indigenous Education Specialist
Merna Rachid, BA
Merna is a recent graduate of the University of Alberta with a degree in French Language & Literature with specialization in Romance Languages and Translation Studies. She has been actively working in the Edmonton non-profit sector for over five years, as well as several human rights organizations in the Middle East and internationally. Her work emphasizes post-colonial education, international human rights, and the societal effects of orientalism. Merna joined the CFRAC team as the Communications and Administrative Assistant and is now our Executive Assistant. She is passionate about educating communities on CFRAC’s mission and creating spaces to raise awareness and open discussions about systemic racism and oppression.
Noelle Jaipaul, BA, MSc, MA
Noelle (she/her/hers) is a second-generation Canadian settler, born in Edmonton / amiskwaciwâskahikan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Master of Arts in Public and International Affairs. She has lived and worked abroad in Kenya, Vietnam, and Tanzania. Noelle’s professional experience includes working in health programming and policy—primarily working with vulnerable populations—as well as in foreign affairs, immigration, and international development. Noelle worked with the City of Edmonton where she led the municipal work on the anti-racism file, helping to establish the first-ever City of Edmonton Anti-racism Advisory Committee. Noelle has extensive experience in developing and facilitating training on diversity and inclusion, intercultural communication, equity, and anti-racism. Noelle is President of the Board of John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and is currently completing her PhD in political science at the University of Alberta.
Mansoureh Modarres BA, MA, PhD
Mansoureh has been an educator and a researcher for over a decade and has worked in post-secondary sector and adult education as well as in the public sector and community engagement programs. Her academic work is focused on transnational feminisms, intersectionality, community and narrative studies, and storytelling. She has designed, developed, and facilitated numerous educational programs for diverse audiences, on topics such as diversity and inclusion, writing for academic purposes, and literary studies. She joined our team in January 2020 as a Project Consultant, developing the educational resource “Gender Inclusivity in the Workplace: A Practical Guide.” Mansoureh then took on the role of being the Education and Research Programs Consultant and coordinated our ongoing initiative “Challenging Discrimination through Community Conversations.” Currently, Mansoureh is our Senior Consultant. She is committed to raising awareness about social issues and fostering inclusive practices.
Eugene Chok BBA, CGA
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.
Elli Dehnavi, BA, MA, PhD
Elli is a university teacher, storyteller, and public educator, who has been actively engaged in the community to raise awareness about interpersonal and systemic discrimination. She has developed adult education resources, coordinated training programs, and managed research and community-based projects. Elli joined CFRAC in 2017 as a Project Consultant and coordinated two main projects: Race and Respect, and Refugee Awareness Alberta. She then served as our Senior Consultant for a year and supervised the work of other researchers and consultants.
Elli has designed and delivered courses and educational workshops on intercultural communication, EDI, Implicit Bias, Creating Inclusive Communities, and gender equity. Now in her new role as the Executive Director, Elli is committed to building equitable relationships in line with CFRAC’s vision and mission.
The Board of Directors is the legal authority for CFRAC.
As a member of the Board, a Board Member acts in a position of trust for the community and is responsible for the effective governance of the organization.
Directors are elected by the membership at the Annual General Meeting. Directors serve for a 2-year term and for a maximum of 3 consecutive terms. The 2021-2022 Board of Directors for the Centre for Race and Culture is:
Yvette Yakibonge, BA
As the child of parents who immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yvette has always had a heart for helping immigrant communities in Canada, primarily through empowering youth and women. Yvette has been involved in her community as a volunteer from a young age, particularly for Alliance-Jeunesse-Famille de L’Alberta Society (AJFAS), an organization committed to empowering francophone immigrant families in Edmonton. Yvette was also selected as a member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Youth Advisory Group. For over two years, she collaborated with other young Canadians on issues concerning youth in Canada, providing recommendations, and developing new initiatives. Yvette holds a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in International Studies. She has worked as a Public Servant for the Ministry of Economic and Social Development Canada. Yvette is currently employed at the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Samantha is a nurse, researcher, outdoor enthusiast, and an anti-racism advocate. She is passionate about social activism, promoting justice, and building community capacity, and was fascinated by the mobilization of practical, relevant, and resourceful community awareness provided by CFRAC. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) and has worked as a pediatric nurse.
Currently, Samantha is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. Samantha’s research work is geared towards addressing the gap between child health knowledge translation practices and health equity. Specifically, Samantha will be addressing racism in the healthcare sector by seeking impactful solutions that integrate anti-racism as a key commitment in the provision of nursing care. Outside of her professional role, Samantha enjoys responsible travelling, hiking, photography, and trying new foods.
An urban enthusiast, adventurer and food junkie, Aemon is an outgoing, and driven young professional who loves working with others as a means of exchanging ideas and knowledge. She graduated with an Honors Bachelor majoring in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies, and Early Modern History, with experience working with Canada Border Services Agency and Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada under her belt.
A life-long learner, Aemon’s keen interest in politics, social justice and human rights issues has led to her involvement with several not-for-profit organizations in Toronto helping marginalized communities, women’s groups, and vulnerable populations, as well as building awareness of civil liberties. Aemon is excited to bring her experience to CFRAC, to educate and promote anti-racism ideas and build an inclusive and diverse society.
Rickard is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Decision Sciences in the School of Business at MacEwan University. In this role, he oversees the B.Com. Major in Supply Chain Management and has also led the development of a new Minor in Business Intelligence/Data Analytics. He holds a PhD from the University of Alberta, Canada, M.Sc. (Eng.) and B.Sc. from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden, along with studies in Economics conducted at Stockholm University, Sweden.
Apart from an interest in the Built Environment, his research interests revolve around Leadership Development and Consumer Behaviour and the use of statistical modeling to measure those behavioural outcomes and preferences. He taught at universities in Europe and Canada and was a Visiting Research Fellow at Uppsala University, Sweden. He is the current Vice-Chair of the Canadian Initiative for Nordic Studies at the University of Alberta, an organization with a national mandate to advance the multidisciplinary academic and cultural exchanges between Canada and the Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland. He holds the professional designation of Chartered Manager (C.Mgr.) from CIM Chartered Managers Canada©.
Linda is a first-generation immigrant, visual artist, and community organizer. Originally from Turkey, she has lived in various parts of Canada and abroad and has been active in different cultural communities as an advocate for social justice, diversity, inclusion, and intercultural dialogue. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy at Concordia University, Montreal, and a Certificate in Project Management at the University of Alberta.
Linda has 10 years of experience in non-profit and the public sector working with diverse stakeholders on international platforms with a focus on community and international development, humanitarian assistance, capacity building, public engagement, and advocacy. She is a strong advocate for immigrant women having personally experienced challenges of settlement and integration as a newcomer to Canada.
As an artist, Linda is interested in how art and storytelling influence our political, social, and emotional realities, from the impact on a community up to the global level. She held several exhibitions and community events in Montreal, Toronto, and Edmonton, and continues to be involved in Edmonton’s arts community in various artistic and mentoring roles.
Youssra was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, with a double major in Psychology and Sociology, a Bachelor of Education, as well as a Masters in Theoretical, Cultural, and International Studies from the University of Alberta. Her professional experiences include front line mental health services at Alberta Hospital Edmonton, youth support work with non-profit human service organizations, as well as 10+ years serving learners as an educator with the Edmonton Public School Board.
Currently, Youssra works as an ESL Consultant, supporting educators, and English Language Learners. She is an advocate for diversity in her professional and personal life. Aside from her husband and four children, Youssra’s greatest commitment is supporting students and educators.
Rym is an experienced policy specialist and has spent the past four years working in the non-profit sector in the vibrant Francophone community in Alberta. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Studies at the University of Alberta and a Master’s of Public Policy at McGill University.
Rym currently holds the position of Senior International Relations Officer with Universities Canada, where she ensures that the international interests of Canadian universities are well understood at home and abroad. In this role, some of her responsibilities include international outreach and relationship development, research, government relations, and policy analysis to enhance the international dimension of the Canadian higher education sector.
In addition, Rym is actively engaged in anti-racism work; she has been involved with the CFRAC board since December 2018 and has worked professionally on various EDI projects. She also continues to work with the Francophone community in Alberta and Canada as a consultant, where she tackles from time to time diverse projects.
Vivian is a coffee connoisseur and a vocal mental health advocate in the greater community. Her passion for health and wellness has inspired her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and Psychology, and now a Master’s in Public Health.
Over the years, she has worked with non-profit organizations and public institutions in various capacities. At an international level, she has been affiliated and worked with organizations such as UN Women and the World Economic Forum. As a woman of color with a strong interest in policy and health, Vivian has always been actively participating in discussions on the challenges faced by the ethnic communities in Edmonton. She was initially intrigued by the work done by the Centre for Race and Culture in the areas of education and awareness. After having the opportunity to learn more about the organization and interact with their members, Vivian was eager to be a part of the cause.
Currently, she works as the Planning and Engaging Coordinator with Homeward Trust Edmonton, working in collaboration with all levels of government and community agencies to eradicate homelessness in the city. In the long term, she hopes to continue her involvement and career journey in the public sector.