We cultivate community resilience by supporting champions of social change and compassion. We develop peace-building skills to respond to the challenges of our times, creating a greater level of understanding, inclusion and connection.
We dream of individuals, families and communities throughout the Salish Sea and beyond living wholeheartedly with curiosity, empathy, deeper understanding of each other, self-compassion and fearlessness.
Humility and Reflection
We approach our work with authenticity and openness, and a desire to understand different perspectives. When conflict arises, we get curious about the different needs in the room. We create time to listen and reflect, seeking clarity and deeper understanding.
Responsive to Emergent Needs
We are committed to learning about the realities that are faced by those we work with and work to find strategies that address unique needs. and respond to requests and to needs as they arise. In this way we challenge our own assumptions to recognize that people are the experts about what challenges they face and what elements are needed to find solutions that work.
We are committed to ensuring that peace building strategies and skills are accessible to many. We recognize that limited financial resources and the dynamics of privilege can be barriers to involvement. We want to find ways to lower these barriers and create equity in accessibility.
Open and Curious
Simple and Joyful
When life is simple and joyful there is flow and ease and the possibility of creativity and inspiration. We are committed to making choices that flow out of this energy.
The Salish Sea Empathy Society was started in 2017 by two NVC trainers (Angela Walkley and Mitch Miyigawa) who were interested in applying NVC to promote social change. We started by offering a tremendous experiment in building community - the NVC summer camp! Since that time, a group of heart centred individuals has formed to focus on community building, providing empathy support to communities in need and finding ways to support people with limited access to training opportunities. In particular, we have been finding ways to grow NVC through training for individuals from Latin American countries.
Our Board of Directors
Myriam Verzat - Co-Chair
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) has been a very important part of Myriam's life since she was a teenager. It is a process and a way of relating to each other that her parents have used in her family of four children, allowing deep and beautiful connections to unfold. She can see how much accepting emotions and listening to each other has helped tremendously the quality of her relationships with her husband, child, friends, neighbours and coworkers. After reading and experiencing NVC by herself for many years, she studied and shared Nonviolent Communication in Montreal. She is now sharing NVC in Nanaimo and collaborates with Angela Walkley from Farthest Shore.
Myriam has the deep conviction that the way we relate to ourselves and to each other is at the core of the type of violence we observe and perpetuate in the world. She wants to support leaders, schools, organizations and families to contribute to the profound social and environmental shift that needs to happen if we want to survive as a species on this planet. Thanks to her past experience as environmental educator and artist in dance theatre, she is teaching NVC through nature connection and artistic approaches. To know more about her, please visit: http://www.myriamverzat.com.
Jenna Card - Co-Chair
Jenna’s path to Nonviolent Communication was one of deep personal healing and empowerment that ultimately transformed all of her relationships. Inspired by NVC’s capacity to create profoundly meaningful change in people and systems, Jenna left behind a 25-year career in business to become a Certified Nonviolent Communication trainer. She skilfully blends compassion with insightful leadership as she guides business, communities, and individuals to more effective, fulfilling relationships and outcomes. Based in Vancouver, BC, Jenna has a passion for creating sustainable, thriving, collaborative communities and dreams of a rural communal life on the land. Jenna has formal training Leadership Coaching, Mediation, Restorative Systems, Convergent Facilitation, and nature-based leadership practices. Jenna is passionate about guiding others into deeper connection with themselves and others for enhanced relational authenticity and deep personal fulfillment. Offering individual coaching and private workshops, Jenna's work can also be experienced through her public offerings as Heart Spring Consulting and collaborative work with her partner as Fierce Loving.
Kate Reynolds - Secretary
In the midst of completing a Managing Conflict in the Workplace Certificate from Vancouver Island University, Kate encountered NVC while working as a teacher at Gabriola Elementary School. Excited by the commonalities in approaches to conflict resolution, she worked with her students over the next few years teaching these skills and deepening her own learning. She found NVC to be a wonderful way to build an empathic classroom community with an emphasis on relationships rather than rules and on engagement rather than control. The values behind NVC also aligned well with Kate's background in Waldorf education and desire to see each child as a developing human and spiritual being.
Retiring from the classroom in 2017, she continues to share NVC with students at Gabriola Elementary and dreams of Compassionate Communication becoming part of the culture of the school, the island community and the world. Kate is influenced by the writings and work of Rudolf Steiner and Thich Nhat Hanh.
Sandra Thomson - Treasurer
Sandra has always been passionate and committed to social change, seeking ways to work that are holistic, integrated and understand root causes. She has training in holistic health, Capacitar wellness techniques, Vijnana yoga and Heart Rhythm Meditation. Her interests lie in bringing what she has learned into the social change movement including spiritual activism, reflective practices for practitioners and social change agents and community-based mind-body-spirit wellness practices. She worked in El Salvador, Guatemala and Bolivia. For several years she worked in support of coastal First Nations communities assuming their rights and responsibilities to determine what happens on their territories. She is currently provides support to Cowichan Elders through the Cultural Connections program; the work builds relationships between First Nations and non First Nations communities in the field of reconciliation in the Cowichan Valley. She is building her empathy skills with non violent communication and heart rhythm meditation practices.
M. "Asad" Asadullah - Board Member
Asad experienced deeply rooted 'empathy' from the NVC community during the most difficult time of his life-when his mother became critically ill while he was at the 2016 International Intensive NVC Training (IIT) in Whistler, BC. Since then, he has been actively engaged with NVC and became a Certified Trainer with the international Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) in 2018. Asad enjoys sharing the beauty of NVC with couples, students, faith communities and inmates. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Regina's Department of Justice Studies. He holds a PhD in Criminology from Simon Fraser University. His research interests include decolonization, restorative justice, peacemaking criminology and contemplative practice. Asad hopes to spread the wonder of NVC locally, nationally and internationally with the Salish Sea Empathy Society.
Angela Walkley - Board Member
Angela Walkley is the Founder of SSES along with her husband Mitch Miyagawa. She is a Certified Trainer with the International Centre for Nonviolent Communication and is an Assessor for Trainer Candidates in South, Central and North America.
Angela has worked as a mediator and facilitator in Northern Canada and Latin America with First Nation, community, non profit and government processes.
For Angela, NVC was key in moving her family through a very difficult time in their lives. She discovered it is a powerful way to show up for herself and others. And that it changed relationships, decision-making outcomes, conflict and pain. And in the process leads people into lives of vitality and connection.