Meet Our Speakers (British Columbia)

The Speaker Bureau is a group of dedicated volunteers from across Canada that promotes discussion and learning on global issues and inspires Canadians to get involved in international development. Learn more.

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Zahra EsmailZahra Esmail (Vancouver, BC)

Zahra is currently the Executive Director at South Vancouver Neighbourhood House. She worked overseas for several years in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean, and developed a critical eye with regards to development programming. While she is very happy to be living in Canada again, she genuinely misses eating fresh oversized Haitian avocadoes and sweet Indian mangoes!






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Alim Fakirani (Vancouver, BC)

Alim Fakirani has always had an interest in international development work. However, his journey into this field happened in a somewhat circuitous manner. Upon completing his undergrad in Montreal, he pursued graduate studies in the field of education. After being a classroom teacher for several years, he decided to see if he could contribute his skills in new and exciting ways. This led him into an area that he'd always had a passion for.

His experience as an educator and program developer has seen him work in a variety of settings. He has worked in Montreal, Vancouver, Dar Es Salaam, Kinshasa, and most recently, in various regions in Madagascar. Alim has seen how education can have great benefits for local communities in a variety of ways.










Attiya Hirji (Vancouver, BC)

Attiya grew up in Canada, but knew from a young age that she wanted to work internationally in the field of development. She is passionate about working with women and children in the areas of education and health. Her experiences abroad include working with children in an orphanage in Tanzania and in a community school in Costa Rica. Recently she started her own social enterprise that seeks to provide early childhood education to children in urban slums. Attiya hopes to inspire others to inform themselves about global issues, generate meaningful dialogue, and take action to make a difference - even from right here at home.





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 Anna Kim (Vancouver, BC)

Growing up in Uzbekistan, Anna believed education would change the trajectory of her life and she worked hard to create opportunities for herself. Her schooling has allowed her to become a true global citizen, fluent in Russian, Korean and English, who now advocates for accessible education for all. Having experienced the transformative power of education and the opportunities it brings, Anna is committed to help younger people in the developing countries to pursue their dreams through education.

Anna holds a Masters of Arts in International Relations from Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea and is currently pursuing her second Masters of Arts in Political Science at SFU.


Douglas Lau

Douglas Lau (Vancouver, BC)

As a public health specialist, Doug has worked with NGOs in Uganda and Tanzania, and more recently, with UN-Habitat in Kenya. His expertise spans the sectors of HIV/AIDS; maternal, and child health; and youth-led urban development. His story speaks to the challenges of accessing quality maternal health care for rural and remote communities in East Africa.

Doug holds a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia, and n MSc in Political Sociology from the London school of Economics. He will soon be completing an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.





Tina ParbhakarTina Parbhakar (Vancouver, BC)

Tina Parbhakar is a practicing lawyer and an avid volunteer based in Vancouver, B.C. She is passionate about social justice issues in Canada and abroad. In 2012-2013, she worked in Kampala through the Aga Khan Foundation Canada as a Communications Specialist with the Madrasa Early Childhood Programme and has previously worked in Delhi with Participatory Research in Asia on issues related to violence against women. She is currently a member of Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada and Rotary International, among other organizations.





Sadie St Denis

Sadie St. Denis (Vancouver, BC)

Sadie is a passionate advocate for women’s empowerment and reproductive health rights. Sadie was awakened to the need for support in the field of maternal and infant health care while completing an internship in Uganda in 2010.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Master’s degree in History from York University however she considers her experience travelling, volunteering and working in over 30 countries equally valuable education. Sadie is the former executive director of a Vancouver-based charity that improves infant and maternal health in Uganda.





Nareena Switlo

Nareena Switlo (Vancouver, BC)


‘Tuko Pamoja’. Those two words launched Nareena’s career in international development from her hometown of Vancouver, BC. Her passion has led her to focus on social enterprise as a way to tackle some of our most pressing global issues. Nareena’s extensive experience as a project manager and leadership facilitator contributes to her holistic approach to development. Nareena is known for her funny and approachable style that allows her to engage people from all backgrounds. She loves to spark participants’ own desires to learn about the world - Nareena will inspire you to become a global citizen.
Nareena holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and has worked with innovative organizations in Zanzibar in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, and India.


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This program is made possible with the support from Global Affairs Canada.


Read 29610 times Last modified on Thursday, 23 March 2017 21:23

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