Claire Skillen 
Island Women in Science and Technology 

iWIST DEI Panel: “Elevating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Work in Your Organization”

DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) work in organizations encompasses the promotion of justice, fairness, and distribution of resources for the amplified participation in decision-making processes of populations of people that historically remain underrepresented. For DEI work to work, stakeholders at all levels need to be committed and engaged; however, research suggests that women, women of color, and racial minorities, have historically taken on the brunt of DEI work even while they may be penalized for doing so. In this panel, we turn to Dr. Aftab Erfan, Chief Equity Officer at the City of Vancouver, Teara Fraser, founder & Lead Executive Officer (LEO) of Iskwew Air, and Leah Shumka, Adjunct Professor of Gender Studies and Associate Director at the faculty of Equity and Human Rights at the University of Victoria. These warm, engaging leaders share personal insights and learned experience through their career journeys, in addition to thought leadership in DEI practices.

This panel event is free and accessible to all iWIST members and non-members. However, if you are able to and would like to donate in recognition of your attendance, please consider the following charitable organizations championed by our panelists:

Peers Victoria is a multi-service grassroots agency providing an array of outreach, drop-in harm reduction support services, and education and employment training for current and former sex workers.

British Columbia Civil Liberties Association is a non-partisan, charitable society that has been actively advancing human rights and civil liberties through litigation, law reform, community-based legal advocacy, public engagement, and education for the last half century.

When: Wednesday, April 28th, 12 - 1pm

Where: Zoom, link to be provided upon registration.


Teara Fraser 

Small Business BC | Meet Teara Fraser, Iskwew AirTeara discovered her passion for aviation at age 30, on a trip to Africa when she experienced her first flight in a small plane. On her return home she decided to pursue her new passion, and in less than a year, she obtained her commercial pilot’s license. During the 2010 winter Olympics, Teara had the idea to establish an airline that could support Indigenous tourism by providing access to small, remote First Nations communities in British Columbia. In 2019, she turned her dream into a reality, officially launching Iskwew Air in Vancouver on International Women’s Day and serving as Lead Executive Officer. Iskwew (pronounced IS-KWAY-YO) is a Cree word for woman; the name was chosen to celebrate the first Indigenous woman-owned airline, all women, and all those lifting women.

Teara is also the founder and Lead in Disruption & Design of the Raven Institute, holds a Master of Arts in Leadership degree from Royal Roads University, and is a Certified Executive Coach. Teara completed the Aboriginal Focusing-Oriented Therapy (AFOT) and Complex Trauma certificate at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Proud of her Indigenous ancestry, she is a member of the Métis Nation of Northwest Territories.

Aftab Erfan

Dr. Aftab Erfan is a scholar-practitioner working in the areas of community engagement, conflict resolution, strategic planning, intercultural diversity, and leadership development for social transformation. Dr. Erfan worked in the planning field for nearly 10 years, first as an environmental planner for a large consulting firm, then as a long-range planner for a local municipality. Between 2008 and 2013, she completed a PhD in planning, making a case for a therapeutic orientation in planning and describing a potential approach based on action research with the Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw First Nations community on Vancouver Island.

Dr. Erfan taught at the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she was also the Director of Dialogue and Conflict Engagement, and consulted to private, public, and non-profit organizations as the principal of Whole Picture Thinking. The focus of her consulting work was on making the 'whole picture' of complex problems and systems visible and offering facilitative tools for collectively thinking through complexity and contention, to illuminate innovative paths for moving forward. Dr. Erfan is currently the Chief Equity Officer at the City of Vancouver, committed to advancing reconciliation, equity, and anti-racism for all people in Vancouver.

Leah Shumka


Leah Shumka is an academic and researcher with expertise in the areas of gender, sexuality, and feminist politics. Over the last 15 years, her work has focused largely on people working in the sex industry, and the social determinants of their health and well-being. Leah is the former Executive Director of Peers Victoria, a non-profit innovative, multi-service, grassroots agency located in Victoria, British Columbia that provides services and support to sex workers. 

Leah is the Associate Director of Sexualized Violence Education, Prevention and Support at the faculty of Equity and Human Rights at the University of Victoria (UVic). Within the university, Leah holds the position of Adjunct Professor and teaches gender, sexuality, and social justice courses with the Department of Gender Studies. She is responsible for setting the strategic direction for UVic’s prevention efforts, and has created numerous tailored initiatives, campaigns, and programs for training campus community members in survivor-centred and trauma-informed response. Leah’s more current research considers both the historical emergence of sex-positive feminism and upstream forms of sexualized violence prevention.