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 creative development strategist, bridge builder, peacemaker, and designer, who raised her family and has lived in New Westminster for over 30 years. 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, starting with her first local home business venture.
A love for beauty and ability to create unusual connections led her from couture to culture: From fashion school in Paris, to the halls of academia at Simon Fraser University (SFU), facilitating multi-million dollar CIDA funded local and international development projects in areas of Adult Education for Economic Development, Reducing the Stigma of HIV/Aids and sustainable Women’s Empowerment initiatives, to conducting independent research in countries throughout the world on the transformative and healing effects of beauty.
She was instrumental in the development, programming, and operations of the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies (SFU) – the first of its kind in North America, for which she was recognized with the Simon Fraser University Staff Achievement Award. With her knowledge of the critical geo-political situation in the Middle East, and in response to the Liberal’s campaign promise to open Canada’s doors to refugees, Ellen opened her doors in 2016 to several refugees. “I remember the concern from my mother saying, ‘you’re going to have a young man stay with you?’ I laughed and replied, no, mom, I’m going to have three.” I simply gave them a little boost and with all my heart, I know that were the tables to be turned, there would be a mother on the other side of the world, doing the same for my sons.
Ellen’s work has concentrated on bridging cultural and economic divides, pluralism and diversity, women’s and girl’s leadership and empowerment, and the preservation of traditional art. She currently works for the City of Vancouver in External Relations and Protocol and volunteers to mentor new immigrants. She is also an associate member of the Humanities Institute, SFU.
Her university studies from four different institutions, equipped her with degrees and credentials in Leadership, Liberal Arts, Design, and Education. She has a rare mix of education, training, and experience that is well suited to public service. In 2018, Ellen was a candidate for New Westminster city council.
• Immigrant Services Society of BC – Board Member, In Progress
• International Peace Research Association – North American Rep and Council Member, 2014 – 2016
• Humanities Institute, Simon Fraser University – Associate Member, Associate Member, 2013 – Present
• Peace and Justice Studies Association – Member, 2014 – Present
• Women Transforming Cities – Member, 2014 – 2017
• Vancouver Climate Convergence – Member, 2015 – Present
• United Religions Initiative, Vancouver Co-Operation Circle Co-Founder, 2014 – Present
• Habitat for Humanity, Global Village – Team Lead, 2007 – 2009
• Immigrant Employment Council – BC Mentor Connect Program (social enterprise), 2018 – Present
• Vancouver Foundation Neighbourhood Small Grants (community garden), 2017 – Present
• “Jungle” Refugee Camp, Calais, France (on ground and virtual support), 2015 – Present
• Inland Refugee Society, Vancouver (host 3 Afghans), 2015 – Present
• COP 21 Indigenous support (translation) Paris, France, 2015
• SEP JORDAN, Jerash Camp, Jordan (social enterprise), 2014 – Present
• Vancouver Climate Convergence, 2014 – Present
• Charter for Compassion, 2011 – Present
• Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, 2011 – Present
• Kina Social Ventures (Vancouver) with The Small World (Nepal), Solukhumbu region, Nepal, 2011
• Habitat for Humanity, Global Village, Darkhan Mongolia, 2009
• Habitat for Humanity, Global Village, Pondicherry, India, 2007