We’re a volunteer-driven, grassroots BC non-profit society that aims to bring cultural and arts awareness to our community, to provide empowerment through education to our friends in Guinea, and to provide fundraising to support both of our aims.
Why the current focus on Guinea?
- Several directors have established links with the country.
- The society has contacts “on the ground” in the country; contacts that can monitor and evaluate the use of the money and be absolutely certain that the dollars are getting into the hands of those most in need.
What we believe…
The gift of multiculturalism is what it teaches about humanity. Using the arts to channel the natural desire to connect in meaningful ways, we participate not through philanthropy but by invitation and with full recognition of others’ unique experiences. We acknowledge that the root causes of many problems are the result of hundreds of years of oppression, colonialism, lack of access & control of natural resources, gender inequality, and other complex historical forces combined with more recent phenomena such as poverty, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and globalization.
A world in which art, culture and education are vital for emerging human potential and are the impetus for peace.
Rooted in the Arts, we engage in intercultural partnerships, achieve dynamic exchanges of knowledge and inspire contribution to Community.
Values That Guide Us
We respect cultural diversity
We value arts
We honour community
We acknowledge the relationship of the environment to human experience
Our funding process
We believe in offering assistance by invitation vs “providing aid”. Our philosophy is that communities know best what they need: we don’t want to march in, with good intentions, but inappropriate assistance.
2017 Board of Directors
Lynn Taylor-Weaver, Vision Keeper
Lynn Weaver is an educator, performer, director, and advocate of human potential. She reaches broad audiences to share the Arts and cross-cultural understanding. She collaborates regularly with Power of Hope, Canada World Youth, Cowichan Intercultural Society, and other leadership groups on Vancouver Island and abroad. Lynn is so grateful for the work of Matoto, and to her community in Guinea. For more information about Lynn and her work, see MoonDance Dynamic Arts School: www.MoonDanceArts.ca.
Sheryl Townsend, Treasurer
Born and raised in Victoria, Sheryl received a Finance Diploma from Camosun College in 1999 and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Royal Roads University in 2000, both of which will allow her to bring her experience in finance and accounting to Matoto. She discovered the world of West African dance and culture after joining MoonDance in 2004 and has enjoyed the energy it brings ever since. Sheryl has been regularly involved with local community events such as Habitat for Humanity, Jazzfest, Moss Street Paint-In, and the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and is looking forward to working on educational and multicultural projects that extend to the global community.
Amalia Colussi, Director at Large
In the winter of 2008-2009, Amalia joined 9 other Canadians on a month-long educational trip to Guinea, in West Africa, to study dance and drumming. Inspired by that experience, by prior travel adventures and simply by all the wonderful things that have yet to be done in the world, she joined Matoto as a founding board member. What could be better than using the arts to foster cross-cultural connection, collaboration and positive change? And doing it amid the laughter and love of the other board members? Nothing could be better. After some time away from the board on maternity leave, though continuing as a volunteer, Amalia is thrilled to re-join the laughter, love and unbridled optimism of Matoto.
Tamara Phillips, Director at Large
Tamara has been a part of the MoonDance family since 2005. She earned her West African name “M’mhawa” while studying drum and dance in Guinea. Tamara is an adventurer and constantly seeks out opportunities to learn about life. She holds a degree in Biology from the University of Victoria, and currently works in Vancouver as a full time artist. Tamara is honoured to contribute her artistic skills to Matoto, as well as her five years experience as an assistant manager in fundraising. Her world travels and life experiences have fuelled her commitment to promoting diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, and compassion. She believes every life is worth supporting and celebrating!
Erin Houldsworth, Director at Large
Erin Houldsworth is an Elementary Teacher in Greater Victoria and has been a Matoto board member since the fall of 2015. Erin began her career with West African drumming and dancing in 2006 when she was invited to become part of the percussion for a live music dance class. She soon soon fell in love with the dancing and began practicing dance as well. In 2008 she travelled to Guinea on an educational trip to study West African dancing and drumming and had the opportunity to visit the village of Kubian to see the site of the new school and meet the community there. After a few years away from the Matoto scene, Erin is grateful to be back and looks forward to supporting Matoto and all the joy it brings to her and others.
Lauren Hudson, Internal Communications and Projects and Innovations Coordinator
Having danced since she was three years old, Lauren just couldn’t give it up when she moved to Victoria to study sciences at the University of Victoria. She was introduced to the MoonDance family by her paddling friends, and she hasn’t turned back. Lauren loves the music, movement, laughter and culture she has experienced with her dancing and drumming pals. One of her most treasured experiences was traveling to Guinea with fellow MoonDancers to study drum and dance. Lauren loves teaching at an independent school in Victoria. She is grateful to collaborate with the Board members, volunteers and donors who work together to achieve Matoto’s goals!
Byron Weaver, Director at Large
After years of travel, Byron’s dissatisfaction with the imbalanced sharing and consumption of resources, and access to individual opportunity led him to be a founding member of Matoto. Through Matoto, Byron hopes to empower communities to peacefully protect their natural and people assets from predatory acquisition and defend against exploitative relationships with foreign corporations. The commitment, passion and hard work of all Matoto volunteers and the generosity of our donors continue to fuel Byron’s hope that Matoto will expand its reach. Byron is honored and grateful to be a tiny part of Matoto Multicultural Arts Society.
Juliana Wigmore, Director at Large
Juliana is a founding member of Matoto. She traveled to Guinea in 2008 to study dance and music where she had the opportunity to visit the village of Kubian and meet some of the people who live there. Juliana owns and operates Spark & Whimsy Photography. She is also a wife, mother and friend. She looks forward to once again serving on the Matoto board.
Laura Carleton, Director at Large
Hello! I’m Laura Carleton – a member of the MoonDance family since 2004, a volunteer with Matoto since 2010, and a board member since 2014. I’m proud of the work Matoto and our partners are doing here in Victoria and in Kubian, Guinea. I’m inspired by the enthusiasm, optimism, and dedication Matotians bring to building community, encouraging human potential, and creating a more peaceful world.
Jocelyne Therrien, Director at Large
Jocelyne has spent the last 25 years studying and practicing in health and wellness. Her greatest teachers have been her two children, who she is lucky enough to be homeschooling. Dance has always brought great joy into Jocelyne’s life and being introduced to the Shawnigan Lake Moondance crew in 2014 was a special blessing. This connection led to learning about the inspiring story behind the Matoto Multicultural Arts Society. As a recent addition to the board, Jocelyne is thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of this truly impactful grassroots initiative.
Colleen Delaney, Director at Large
Colleen Delaney has been a long-time friend of Matoto and first fell in love with the dancing and drumming of the Guinean people when she joined a class with MoonDance Arts over 13 years ago. Originally from a small northern Ontario town, Colleen travelled by bus two hours a day to attend high school. Having had that experience, she feels that all children should be given the opportunity for basic education, with as little travel as possible, to allow them to be home more with their families and friends. With the new school, Matoto has helped to provide this to children within the community of Kubian, Guinea and Colleen has chosen to support this ongoing project as one of the newest board members. When not collaborating with other Matoto members, or working as an environmental consultant, Colleen likes spending time with her son and their dog, outdoors enjoying the wonders of nature, or puttering in her garden.