NIOVI PATSICAKIS, B.Ed., M.Ed. President
Niovi is a retired teacher. She has taught over 30 years as a classroom teacher and in the field of remedial reading and special education. She holds Bachelor of Education and Master of Education degrees from McGill University. She continues to play numerous roles in the education field still holding her BC Teacher Certification. She is a part-time teacher supervisor for the Learning Disabilities Association Frazer South and the Reading and Real Math Program. She is also a member of CHADD- Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity- and a Group SENG facilitator (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted). She does all that while working with parents and students through her business: New Pathways Educational Services.
She is well known as a strong advocate for public education and learning conditions of students. Once she was the President of the Association of Surrey Specialist Educators. In 2012, she was a representative on the Surrey teachers Bargaining Committee. Over the years, she has presented many briefs to the government and the school board, written many letters to Members of the Legislature and Surrey newspapers. In 2014, she also ran for the Surrey School Board. Currently, she is administrating the BC Citizens for a Fully Funded Public Education group on Facebook and via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. She encourages others to join her in this discussion/focus group, which aims to protect and improve public education in Surrey. She is delighted to be part of GPA that strives to empower people and their educational, cultural and other grassroots networks to build and sustain a culture of peace for generations to come.
PATRICK O’CONNOR, Vice President
Even as a teenager, Patrick thought that there was a need for every person to standup against ongoing injustices wherever they occurred. While still in high school he raised over $400.00 for African famine relief, -the second highest amount received. His passion for a more just world was evident in current events and geography classes, and later in sociology and anthropology classes in university. The apartheid regime in South Africa, fascist regimes in Latin America and the Viet Nam War were major concerns. Pat was also equally concerned about the economic inequality both in Canada and abroad. His deep frustration over these and other concerns led him to start doing what he could towards a just, secure and peaceful world. He wrote letters to the editor and joined picket lines when workers’ rights were being abused. He also regularly attended solidarity events to show his support for their ongoing struggles for a just world. His peace and social justice concerns led to a lifetime of political activity directed at all levels of government. As a peace supporter in the ‘70’s, he collected thousands of names for the Stockholm Appeal – an international peace petition calling for an absolute ban on nuclear weapons. Pat helped popularize the annual Peace Walks, parades, marches and events promoting peace. He designed an anti-war poster for his trade union and often carried the union banner in peace demonstrations and marches. At national political conventions he campaigned against bombs and for humanitarian aid. Pat is a well-known transit advocate who sat on citizens’ transit advocacy groups since the early ‘80’s. He has been an active trade unionist and a long-time political action committee member of his union. He has worked as a transit driver since 1986. Pat is a supporter of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Council of Canadians – broad based national organizations in support of social justice issues. Recently retired, he is now on the steering committee of his local community association. He is married, has two adult children, one grandchild, and a large extended family. He lives with his wife, Wendy, in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.
FURQUAN GEHLEN, Member at Large
Furquan Gehlen works in the industrial automation industry as an Automation Engineer with a background in Electrical Control Systems. He has been a peace and social justice activist since 1985 and has recently furthered his education by completing a ‘Certificate in International Development’ from UBC in 2012 and completing a Master’s degree in Peacebuilding from Royal Roads University in 2016.
He is currently Co-Chair of the Vancouver chapter of Canadian Peace Initiative and is also on the board of GAMIP. From 2013 to 2019 he was the National Co-chair of Canadian Peace Initiative. He is currently chapter coordinator for World BEYOND War’s Metro Vancouver chapter and is focused on developing a culture of peace in Canada and around the world. His passion is to make the world a better place by focusing on resolving problems at the root cause level and in a sustainable way. His goal is to have society progress so that war is no longer considered an acceptable activity for humans.
Born in Newcastle, England and living in the Metro Vancouver region since 1973, Furquan currently lives in North Delta with his wife and three children.
Asad Syed has been a resident of Surrey for the past 24 years along with his wife and three children. He is a community activist and advocate for interfaith harmony, as well as the founder and past president of The White Rock Muslim Association and Whiterock Musallah and Community Center. He is the chair of steering committee of Iqbal Academy BC, member of BCMA and play very active role in local Pakistani and Muslim Community. He served on the Government Relation Committee FVREB, as well as the BVOR Syrian Refugee Sponsorship and settlement program as a partnership between the WRMA and the First United Church. He volunteers for several charities and not for profit organizations. He is self-employed as a realtor and private business owner. He has a MSc degree in Geology and previously worked as professional Geologist in Saudi Arabia and in USA.
He was a candidate for councilor in civic election in city of Surrey, he is very much involved in Pakistani community and Muslim community in Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley. He is actively involved in main stream politics as well member of Federal and Provincial NDP and an executive South Surrey /Whiterock NDP Constituency..
RAJESH JAYAPRAKASH, Member at Large
Rajesh Jayaprakash (Raj) is a technologist who uses his expertise to advance the use of technology for the betterment of all. He is a software architect by profession and has successfully campaigned many times for community issues in Surrey where he lives with his young family. Rajesh has worked in other countries but has chosen Canada as his home for its peaceful and democratic values.
He is the founder of PEOPLE FIRST SURREY a municipal political group and Public Transit Advocacy Network(PTAN) in Surrey. He is a champion for combating climate change as it has been shown that many of the world’s upheavals, tensions and wars are caused by drought and the inability to survive in unsustainable environments. He has taken steps to adopt and popularise very practical environmental solutions.
ANNIE OHANA, Member at Large
Annie Ohana has received the Prime Minister’s award for teaching excellence. She is a Social Justice & Equity Curriculum Specialist, the Aboriginal depart head at LA Matheson Secondary and a BCTF Representative. She was part of the BC Fed Human Rights Commission. She is much loved by her students and inspired by her to participate on Global issues, the multicultural club, the Energy Ambassadors program, creative writing and much more. She has been involved and is a much wanted speaker by many social movement organizations such as Next 100 Years Mentorship Through Identity, Shakti Team, Stand Up To Racism Metro Vancouver and m any others. She was recently involved in organizing a peace rally in Vancouver where thousands turned out to stop hatred dead in its tracks. She has fostered the LA Matheson secondary Mustangs for many years, youth that help in the community and participate in social justice causes. Her motto, “There is Reconciliation Every time We Learn”.