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Waku, Nepal, with The Small World and Kina social ventures.


Without the “other” there is no diversity and without diversity we are all the poorer in expressions of beauty, splendour, transcendence and mystery.

– Dr. Hasan Askari, Muslim scholar

Ellen Vaillancourt is a designer, peacemaker,  cultural architect and creative development strategist who lives and works in Vancouver, Canada, and Internationally. Trained in Paris, France, as a couturier at la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, she returned to Vancouver and launched a series of private label apparel manufacturing and fashion consulting businesses.

A love for Beauty and ability to see unusual connections led her from couture to culture: From fashion school in Paris, to the halls of academia, facilitating multi-million dollar CIDA funded local and international development projects in areas of Adult Education for Economic Development and sustainable Women’s Empowerment initiatives, to conducting research on and application for the transformative and healing effects of beauty in myriad countries throughout South East Asia, the Middle East and Gulf regions, Africa, and Europe.

Recipient of the 2012 Simon Fraser University Staff Achievement Award, she was instrumental in the development of the Centre for Muslim Societies and Cultures since its inception until fall 2014. Ellen’s work has concentrated on bridging cultural and economic divides, women’s leadership and empowerment, and the preservation of traditional art.


Research Interest

Beauty is a primary principle that touches all parts and functions of our being. It opens us to the world and brings harmony to our relation with others and with nature; it helps us reach out and touch the entire universe.

– Dr. Piero Ferrucci, Beauty and the Soul, (2010).

Ellen’s research explores various theories involving women, culture and development, and the power relations of industry between developing and developed countries. Her particular interest on the saving power of beauty has led her to research the viability and creation of a social enterprise and its larger socio-cultural impact, primarily as it relates to the empowerment of women in war torn regions, natural disaster zones and refugee camps.

Through the creation of sustainable projects aimed at the preservation of traditional arts, Ellen hopes to identify and implement mechanisms to help the artisans tell their own story and to be their own agents of change, in order to rebuild meaningful lives within their own economic and socio-cultural contexts.

Pope John Paul II quoted the line in his Letter to Artists ( ii_let_23041999_artists_en.html), under the heading “The Saving Power of Beauty”:

People of today and tomorrow need this enthusiasm [of wonder] if they are to meet and master the crucial challenges which stand before us. Thanks to this enthusiasm, humanity, every time it loses its way, will be able to lift itself up and set out again on the right path. In this sense it has been said with profound insight that “beauty will save the world” (§16).

Ellen’s curiosity and appreciation of the unique has her weaving sacred webs with and between people of plural and diverse cultures and societies. Her interest is reflected in her life as a wonder lust traveler, designer, peacemaker, creative development strategist, and ultimately, a seer of beauty.

Mission, Vision and Values

Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.

– Fyodor Dostoevsky

By uniting for humanity and the spirit of earth, we are able to reshape organizations and marketplaces to flourish in harmony with the earth, our source of life. This reciprocity inspires and ennobles a beautiful new human prosperity. It is the art and science of weaving webs within human [integral] ecology, between people of diverse cultures, as compassionate co-creators of the natural, built, and social world we share. This is my passion.


– Humanities Institute, Simon Fraser University, Associate Member

– International Peace Research Association, Governing Council Member, North American Representative

– Charter for Compassion, Affiliate

– Peace and Justice Studies Association, Member

United Religions Initiative,Vancouver, Cooperation Circle

– Habitat for Humanity Global Village, Volunteer

– Women Transforming Cities, Vancouver, Member

International Labyrinth Society, member and Veriditas certified labyrinth facilitator

Influential Book 

Come Over to My House,
LeSieg T., (Pseudonym for Theodore Seuss Geisel, ‘Dr. Suess’) circa 1965

Influential Prayer

‘Thanks’ (and may I be the living expression of my gratitude).

Thoughts on Beauty

The late Reverend, John O’Donohue, Irish poet, author, Catholic priest, and Hegelian philosopher (2004) writes: “Beauty…is the highest integrative level of understanding and the most comprehensive capacity for effective action. It enables us to go with, rather than against, the deepest tendency or theme of the universe” (p. 7). It is from this place that I draw my courage to be authentic – hence vulnerable –free of masks, while remaining steadfast and purposeful. It is from this place I garner trust and know that as I go forward I am never alone. As the Holy Quran reminds us, “Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are indeed signs for those who are endowed with insight” (Surat 3, Verse 190). Simply by being attuned to the multitudes of daily affirmations or ‘signs’ – glimpses of Beauty ­ – I feel graced in living a purpose full life. ‘Come,’ says my Heart, ‘Seek God’s Face!’ Psalm 27:8

Theme Song of the Moment 

 I Believe – Irfan Makki & Maher Zain

Life Uncommon – Jewel

Favourite Quotes

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between [her] work and [her] play, [her] labour and [her] leisure, [her] mind and [her] body, [her] information and [her] recreation, [her] love and [her] religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he’s always doing both.”

James A. Michener

“You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.”

Henri-Frederic Amiel

“Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

 Anais Nin

“I have learned that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”

Hendry David Thoreau

“There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground!”

Jalal ud-Din Rumi

“ Et comme un tournesol, gardez toujours le visage vers le soleil.”

Ellen Vaillancourt


  27:1 The Lord is my strength and my salvation – whom shall I fear?