The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre (VSAC) is pleased to announce that Elijah Zimmerman has been hired as its new executive director. Zimmerman replaces Jane Sterk, former leader at Cowichan Women Against Violence, who acted as interim executive director over the past year.
Zimmerman, a former professor of communication studies at Waterloo University, brings more than a decade of experience supporting survivors of domestic and sexual assault through front-line work from a feminist, anti-oppressive foundation. He also brings the experience of being a trans masculine, white-settler immigrant to Canada.
As executive director, Zimmerman will lead VSAC in its day-to-day operations and in achieving its larger goals, such as obtaining funding for its clinic, growing its award-winning outreach and education programs, developing networks with Indigenous communities, and launching a new strategic plan for the organization.
Message From Elijah:
I am pleased to introduce myself as the new executive director of VSAC, and as a guest to the territories of the Lkwungen and WSÁNEC peoples. I grew up on the traditional homeland of the Dakota and Ojibwe, also known as Minnesota, in a working class and farming community of Scandinavian, German, and Scottish-Irish settlers. I come to the work of ending sexualized violence through intersecting experiences of having served in the military, obtaining my doctorate in communication and culture with a focus on consciousness-raising, feminism, and healing, and my lived embodiment as trans masculine.
I’m arriving from the West Kootenays and the territory of the Sinixt, where I enjoyed canoeing Slocan Lake, hiking with my partner and dogs, and appreciating the wildlife. I also recently spent 18 months on the homeland of the Inuit, Dene, Cree, and Metis on the Hudson Bay in Churchill, MB as an executive director for a field station supporting Northern research and education. Here, I was transfixed by sea ice, in awe of aurora borealis, besotted with beluga whales, and inspired by polar bears. Some of my favourite things are public libraries, community recreation, art, wooden boats, and dogs.
It is a privilege to be chosen to lead a feminist organization dedicated to anti-oppression, inclusivity, and to healing colonial, systemic and personal violence. I bring to the role a vision for widening VSAC’s commitment to Reconciliation, for deepening internal and external Relationships, for strengthening organizational systems to build Resiliency and Regeneration, and for extending our Reach in advocacy, education, and healing within the local community and beyond.
Over the last year under the leadership of interim executive director, Jane Sterk, a collectively created momentum at VSAC has fostered stability and empowered engagement from the board, staff, volunteers, donors, and partners to continue the vital work of supporting women and all Trans survivors of sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse. Growing out of this fertile ground is my hire as a permanent executive director and the development of a new strategic plan this Spring. These changes bring forth possibility, excitement, and a recognition of the nurturing required to translate this hope into enduring impact.
I am humbled to be a part of the VSAC community and the wider network of people and organizations dedicated to the transformation of trauma into justice. I look forward to the many conversations and meaningful actions of care we will share together.
About the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre:
The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre is a feminist organization committed to ending sexualized violence through healing, education, and prevention. We are dedicated to supporting women and all Trans survivors of sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse, through advocacy, counselling, and empowerment.
Since the organization’s inception in 1983, demand for services has continued to increase. The centre relies on grants and fundraising to provide critical services to clients. A key issue for VSAC is securing ongoing provincial funding for its integrated sexual assault clinic — the first of its kind in British Columbia.
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