Stephanie Zirino (Education)

Stephanie Zirino has taught for over a decade in local and international schools. Stephanie is pursuing a Master’s in Human Rights degree at the University of Manitoba. Her focus is on experiential learning for human rights education. As a Social Studies teacher by training, she is deeply committed to exploring Reconciliation and working towards fostering a decolonized, inclusive, and brave learning environment. Stephanie is a member of the Global Teacher Inquiry Project, the Manitoba Writing Project, and has facilitated DEI workshops for Professional Development as well as Anti-Semitism education with Manitoba Education and Training. As MARL’s Education Coordinator, Stephanie will work to promote human rights education for all Manitoban communities. Outside of education, she spends her time giving treats to her dog.  

Mitchell DeFehr(Communications)

Mitchell DeFehr graduated from Canadian Mennonite University with a Bachelor of Arts in Peace and Conflict Transformation. He is currently in the Master of Human Rights program at the University of Manitoba. Mitchell was born and raised here in Manitoba and is looking forward to getting married in the summer of 2022. Mitchell has a passion for advocacy and community engagement. He has worked in various capacities coordinating programs for youth and is keen to be more involved in education, empowerment, and programming. Mitchell is excited to work in a space where people’s diversity is valued, liberties are respected, and rights are lived. Mitchell has experience in audio-visual production and communication theory. As MARL’s communications coordinator Mitchell will work on fostering social justice, human rights, and civil liberties through education and advocacy.

Sara Gibson (Children's Program)

Sara Gibson graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Social Science in Conflict Studies and Human Rights. She is currently pursuing her Master of Human Rights degree at the University of Manitoba. Even long before her post-secondary education career began, Sara had always been passionate about children’s rights. She has always been keen to empower those younger than her with the spirit to make change. Sara has worked for the federal government in numerous capacities over the last four years, and she is excited to embark on a new adventure in the world of non-profit. As MARL’s Children’s Program Coordinator, Sara will work on the promotion of children’s rights through the creation and implementation of various workshops. In her free time, Sara loves to hang out with her dog and try new restaurants around Ottawa.  

Sabbontu Abdushekur (Advocacy & Volunteer)

Sabbontu Abdushekur graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology/ Socio-Legal Studies and Women & Gender Studies. She is currently pursuing a Master of Human Rights degree at the University of Manitoba. Her passion to study human rights stems from her family’s experience with advocating against human rights abuses in Oromia, Ethiopia. Sabbontu has experience in human rights advocacy and activism with particular focus on ethnic and state-sponsored violence. She has also served as a board member for a non-profit youth organization in Toronto and was the event and social media coordinator. As MARL’s Advocacy and Volunteer Coordinator, Sabbontu will work on effectively advocating for human rights while serving on the BIPOC and Youth Planning Committees. On her spare time, she loves to travel and try new cuisines. 

Alvena Ali Wasim (Editor & Communications)

My Name is Alvena, and I am currently completing my Bachelor in Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication from the University of Winnipeg. I also have a Bachelor of Commerce from my home country, Pakistan. After moving to Canada, I started my professional career in the banking industry where I learned many valuable skills and built personal and professional connections. However, I was more interested in exploring ideas that can be implemented to improve the lives of people. My degree in Communications has taught me how to contribute to conversations that are necessary in today’s increasingly polarized environment. I believe there is a need to acknowledge the nuances of cultural relativism while defending the universality of human rights in a manner that does not hurt people’s sentiments. Which is why I am excited to work with an organization like MARL that is doing the important work of advocating and creating awareness of these fundamental human rights in the community.

Damhat Zagros (Youth Program Developer)

Damhat Zagros is a Kurdish, Syrian human rights advocate. Born in Afrin City, Aleppo, he left Syria in 2011 and lived as a refugee in Lebanon for more than six years where he was unable to finish his schooling. He resettled in Manitoba in 2017 through UNHCR. After taking English classes and graduating from adult high school in Winnipeg, he is now proudly in his third year at the University of Winnipeg pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights and is currently a Group Facilitator with the ‘Be That Leader’ youth program with Aurora Family Therapy Centre. Damhat has been active in the Kurdish and Syrian community in Manitoba, spending many of his past summers supervising summer youth programs and supporting sponsored refugees settle in their new home. Damhat is still an active member of MARL’s BIPOC Advisory Committee.

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