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Board of Directors

The BC Bereavement Helpline Board of Directors is composed of community volunteers who come from a wide cross-section of professional backgrounds. They are rich in experience and have an active interest in supporting the BC Bereavement Helpline to realize its vision that bereavement support is an essential service. Board appointments are for two-year terms and Directors can serve up to three terms.

Our Board of Directors is responsible for strategic planning and overseeing the organization’s financial management while actively fundraising and supporting the sustainability and growth of our services., We are always looking for new Board members to join our dynamic team. If you are interested in joining our Board of Directors, please contact us at 604-738-9950, or email us at contact@bcbh.ca.

President & Board Chair, Marlyn Ferguson has been the Arborcare Coordinator at Valley View Funeral Home, Surrey B.C. for over fourteen years, supporting people who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Marlyn was instrumental in developing a support group for Suicide Loss and has facilitated groups for the past nine years. Following the death of her 27-year-old son Graeme in 2005 to murder, she quickly realized that survivors of crime have unique needs that may not be met by friends, family, or existing social services. She “Took Action” and started the first Homicide Support Group in B.C. at Valley View Funeral Home. She facilitates two – eight-week groups per year and follows up with bi-monthly Pot Luck Dinners for members and their families. Marlyn is also a member of the Advisory Committee with BC Victims of Homicide and has been training facilitators throughout the province.

Past President & BCBH Clinical Supervisor, John Dubé is the Program Manager and Clinical Supervisor at the Family Services of the North Shore as well as Ajunct Instructor at Adler University. John is skilled in developing client centred services (including immigration, counselling and organizational infra-structure), bereavement and trauma response.  John holds a Masters focused in Education - Suicidology from the Universtiy of Lethbridge. John has a focus and specialty in the area of suicide intervention, bereavement and traumatic death.

Treasurer, Bharat Ahuja is a Chartered Accountant (India) and has over 12 years of experience in Finance operations and strategy consulting specializing in process improvement. He has provided consulting to various not for profits in Vancouver to streamline their finance processes including but not limited to budgeting, accounts payable, accounting and reporting. Bharat was greatly moved by the mission of BC Bereavement Helpline and wants to leverage his professional experience and knowledge to support the organization.  

Secretary, Brad Martin is a practising Registered Therapeutic Counsellor in good standing with the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists (BC) and the Association of Counselling Therapists of Alberta. He graduated from the Clearmind International Training Institute in 2017 with a diploma in Transpersonal Therapeutic Counselling. Brad supports many charitable causes and is currently a regular volunteer at Honour House. Honour House is a  “home away from home” for members of our Military, Emergency Services, and First Responders Personnel and their families to stay, completely free of charge, while receiving medical care and treatment in the Metro Vancouver area. Brad is a full-time employee of a Vancouver based software company where he has worked in the Investigations Unit since 2006. Prior to working in software Brad enjoyed a 25-year career with the Calgary Police Service in many different tasks including Crime Scenes Investigations, Major Crimes Investigations and Organized Crimes Investigations. Brad assists the BCBH with his broad experience from the policing world and his therapeutic understanding of the process of sadness and grief. 

Director, Dr. Alana Abramson is currently on the faculty in the Department of Criminology for Kwantlen Polytechnic University.  She bridges the community with education, providing opportunities for her students to be in the criminal justice field and learn from those who have directly experienced it.  Alana uses experiential and transformative learning techniques, storytelling and guest speakers to engage students.  She is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the BC Bereavement Helpline. Alana is passionate about enhancing access to and education about victim-sensitive restorative justice practices.  She has been an advocate, trainer, and researcher with respect to restorative justice since 2000.  Alana currently resides in Kamloops and loves vegan food, yoga, hiking and being in nature, her two cats, and travelling with her partner.

Director, Preet B. is a Chartered Professional Accountant, Certified General Accountant and has been providing strategic financial advice in the federal public service for over 15 years. She is passionate about anti-gang education initiatives and volunteers her time in organizing learning events for youth to promote community development. Preet is a former participant of a Homicide Support Group following the murder of her 22-year-old brother in 2018. Through listening and sharing her experience with others who “get it”, Preet says she discovered how critical bereavement resources are in helping families affected by homicide cope with shock and trauma. Preet is grateful for the support she received from the BC Bereavement Helpline and would like to pay it forward to help others. It is her way of honouring the life of her beloved brother Harvey.

Director, Sue Baker has a Bachelor of Social Work and has been working in the field of crisis intervention, trauma and traumatic loss for over 25 years. She is a Certified Trauma Services Specialist with the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists (ATSS) and has had extensive training and experience in Critical Incident Stress Management. Sue is the Coordinator of the Vancouver Police Department, Victim Services Unit and works with individuals, families and witnesses who have been impacted by crime and other traumatic incidents. She is a facilitator of BC Victims of Homicide and BCBH suicide loss support groups.

Director, Jim Cessford is the former Chief of Police with the Delta Police Department. He previously served in the Edmonton Police Service and has been a police officer for 47 years. He is a member of the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR) and Delta Opposes Violence Everywhere (DOVE). He is a coach and mentor for many sporting teams and for high school students who are graduating and moving on to the next phase of their lives. Jim is a member of the Order of Merit for Policing (MOM). In 2009, he was named Delta's Citizen of the Year in recognition of his professional achievements and community service contributions. He was a former member of the homicide and major crimes investigation team with the Edmonton Police Service. He has a wealth of experience in dealing with homicide investigations and in working with Police Victim Services and next of kin notifications and support. 

Director, Marsha Drake is semi-retired after working for nearly 30 years in various community service positions beginning with child care and including anti-poverty advocacy and counselling.  She has also been an English Language instructor and a writer of personal and organizational histories.  For 13 years prior to retirement, Marsha worked in Provincial Corrections with men and women experiencing mental health and addiction challenges. Presently, with Marlyn Ferguson at Valley View Funeral Home, she co-facilitates homicide support groups.  She has also travelled, driven taxis, cooked in Yukon gold camps and trawled for salmon, all of which contributed to her world view and sense of connection with a broad range of people.

Director, Michael (Mike) Johanson is the Manager of the Avalon Surrey Funeral Home. Mike attended Humber College and was licensed in 1979. He began his career in Thunder Bay, Ontario where he continued to work until 1996 and has spent time since then working in Bermuda and England as a Funeral Director Manager. Mike joined Arbor in February 2011 and is a graduate of the National Management Training Program. Mike has a very strong commitment to serving and being involved in the community where he works. He serves on the Surrey Board of Trade Social Policy Committee and the Golf Networking Committee. He also serves on the Surrey Downtown Business Improvement Association and Whalley Crime Prevention. Mike is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has also served Arbor as part of the Arbor Foundation Distribution Committee. He and his wife Sarah reside in Abbotsford, B.C. and enjoy hiking and family life with grown kids Larry, Trish and Rosie.