Jennifer Chan (she/her)
Storytelling Caretaker & CEO, Co-Founder
Jenn is second-generation Chinese-Canadian, a Mama, a partner, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a struggling idealist, a pandemic-induced extroverted introvert, and a recovering perfectionist aka super Virgo.
Jenn’s thinking was partially shaped by her Bachelors in Architectural Science from Ryerson University, her Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from the Ontario College of Art and Design and her life MBA of running her own design-driven community engagement consultancy since 2007
Jenn finds joy in starting new crafty hobbies, gets a bit obsessive doing it as much as possible until she becomes bored and moves on. (She is also a fan of run-on sentences)
Mathura “Temwa” Mahendren (she/her)
Storytelling Caretaker and Minister of Memes & Meditation, previously Program Manager of The Stories of Us
Mathura “Temwa” Mahendren (she/her) is a storyteller by nature, and a design researcher by nurture.
As the daughter of asylum-seeking refugees fleeing state-sanctioned genocide in Sri Lanka, now residing on stolen land on Turtle Island, the desire to reconcile the dissonances within her lineage often manifests in her work. Her practice is rooted in a commitment to designing and sharing tools, frameworks, and brave spaces that can hold individuals, groups, and relationships through difference, discomfort, grief, change, and ultimately, growth.
As the daughter of two humans whose love survived oceans of distance across indefinite periods of time, the poverty of starting anew in a foreign land, and the sudden and premature loss of their firstborn, Mathura is intimately aware of the ways in which our ability to move through difference, discomfort, grief, change, and growth is deeply intertwined with how and how deeply we were taught to love.
To that end, love is both the method and the madness that underpins all of her bodies of work.
In her “spare” time, Mathura is an aspiring meme – has anything else ever made you feel as seen, laugh as hard, and/or rendered you as speechless as the perfect meme?
p.s. Mathura has a Bachelor of Health Sciences from McMaster University, and a Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University — in case that’s the kind of bio you were looking for.
Ari Para (Manchari Paranthahan) (they/them)
Storytelling Caretaker, previously a Social Researcher for A Tale of Two Parks
Ari is a second generation Sri-Lankan-Canadian, Hindu, non-binary, queer artivist based in Scarborough, Ontario. They are a theatre artist and a writer with a passion for reading and learning.
Ari completed an undergraduate in Business Communications at Brock University in St. Catharines, while also completing a minors in Women and Gender Studies and the Dramatic Arts. During their time in St. Catharines, Ari got involved with social justice organizations such as the Brock Student Justice Centre, OPIRG-Brock as well as The Brock Faith and Life Centre. Ari is currently completing a certificate in English Literature and Popular Culture at X University and their Masters of Education at York University. Ari has co-created a theatre show archiving their queer faith journey called That Power, a play focusing on queer interfaith dialogue that was highlighted in In The Soil Arts Festival 2020. They are currently working on adapting That Power as new life experiences impact their queer faith journey.
Ari is also working on publishing a book called Dear Body, a collection of poems about overcoming challenges in their lives without sacrificing who they are.
Elvin Velasco (they/them)
Storytelling Caretaker, previously Program Manager for A Tale of Two Parks
Elvin is a 1.5 generation Filipinx-Canadian. They are a non-binary queer artivist, who migrated at a young age from the lush tropical motherland of Tarlac City, Philippines, grew up Scarborough, Ontario, and currently resides in Downtown Tkaronto.
They are passionate about using their artistic voice and vision in supporting, advocating, healing, and providing comfort for individuals and communities who have been traumatised by systems that do not serve them. They believe that people’s stories and lived experiences are integral in creating change and liberation of ourselves and the communities that we exist in.
They believe that advocacy through any artistic form are powerful modes of storytelling that can comfort the masses and disrupt the system. They believe that we all have the capacity to be creative and be advocates. It is their purpose and journey to empower people that this creative power of individual and community healing lives within all of us.
In their journey of being an advocate for various communities, they have experienced compassion fatigue and trauma. Whereby, they shifted their advocacy work from public endeavours to their personal circle of connections, as showing up for yourself in whatever capacity you can is in itself showing up for your commUNITY.