Image of Marika Sandrelli

“I was a community organizer and activist. I worked in the HIV/AIDS movement in Africa and in outreach in the Downtown Eastside.”

“I was a community organizer and activist. I worked in the HIV/AIDS movement in Africa and in outreach in the Downtown Eastside. I always saw the health care system as confusing. I advocated from the outside. One day someone said, ‘You have to learn the rules before you break them.’ So I joined. It was an awakening: assumptions I had about health care softened. I witnessed compassion and incredible work being done.

I work with colleagues who, despite huge demands, resolve to alleviate suffering even though they’re exposed to stress and trauma. I’m so moved when a patient or client shares their transformation or colleagues experience inner shifts that offer new possibilities for their work.

My passion is animals. I have three dogs, and when we lived on a small acreage, we fostered neglected horses, goats, even an iguana. I was also trained in clowning for health care. I have a clown persona; her name Starry Blue Sky. I do laughter yoga and meditation. I’m really fascinated by post-traumatic growth and how education can be a form of healing. Every day I learn something; it’s humbling to be there."

Marika Sandrelli, Knowledge Exchange Leader, Mental Health and Substance Use

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