meet the board
Blaine Wilkins, Chair
Born and raised on the prairies, Blaine has had a diverse work background including many years in the music industry as a recording studio operator in Saskatoon and Calgary. He worked with the Calgary Stampede producing shows for ten years. He moved to Vancouver Island in 2000 and has held various positions with Service Canada and Service BC. Blaine is well known in the local LGBTQ community. He is a co-ordinator of Reaching Out at Brechin United Church and was present at the founding meeting of ROAR in July 2016.
Blaine loves to travel. He and his partner have visited 25 countries. Blaine is retired and lives in Nanaimo. In a November 2017 interview with the Nanaimo News Bulletin he stated, “Some LGBTQ refugees are in fear of their lives, and we decided early on that helping them would be our mission — and we're very dedicated. We're hoping the community embraces our mission and our goals.”
Horst Backé, Treasurer
Since 2011 Horst has been involved with LGBT people fleeing intense persecution in their home countries, supporting them abroad as well as helping them resettle in Canada as permanent residents. Horst moved to Nanaimo in 2016 and immediately got involved in the establishment of ROAR. Before his retirement Horst was a senior health care manager in Manitoba. During the 80s Horst was a committed AIDS activist and one of the founders of Winnipeg's Village Clinic. He was also a founding member of Reaching Out Winnipeg, an organization with a similar name
and objective: bringing at-risk LGBT refugees to Canada. Horst has a wealth of professional experience. As well as being active in all aspects of ROAR's activities, Horst also is the coordinator of the LOVE Community Response Network, working with local stakeholders to end abuse, neglect and self-neglect of sexual and gender minority adults on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
and volunteer activities. In addition to her refugee work, Anne is a Coordinator for Nanaimo's Loaves & Fishes Food Bank. Anne has been a hard-working board member since ROAR's founding.
Mark Rabnett, Communications
A former medical librarian and academic, Mark was a gay activist for many years in Winnipeg and with the AIDS Committee of Toronto. He retired to Nanaimo with his partner Horst in 2016. He is one of the founders of ROAR and a dedicated volunteer in LGBTQ refugee resettlement since 2011. Mark set up the ROAR website and fosters ROAR's continuing online presence and social networking. He is passionate about his refugee work and has said this about why he volunteers with ROAR: "Our encounters with refugees over the years have enriched us and broadened our horizons. Across
Anne Manikel, United Church Liaison
Anne is a retired United Church minister who is the Refugee Coordinator for Brechin United Church, representing the SAH (Sponsorship Agreement Holder) for all of ROAR's refugee sponsorships. She and her partner Randy raised their three children on their farm in southern Manitoba while running their own agricultural equipment dealership. As U.C. Chaplain at the University of Manitoba in the late 90s, Anne helped to develop the "Allies: Safe Space on Campus" Program. After moving to Nanaimo, she was also instrumental in leading Brechin United Church into achieving the Affirming Ministry designation. Anne loves the outdoor life of Vancouver Island along with her bridge groups
the very real divide of culture, language and social conditioning, refugees have taught us some big lessons: the evil and boundless stupidity of prejudice; the resilience of LGBTQ people in the face of it; how love, solidarity and unceasing struggle can lead to justice; and how important it is for all of us to have a home."
Jamie Dryburgh, Secretary
Jamie became a board member in September 2019. He has lived on Vancouver Island for fifty years. Retired from social work practice in acute and community care, his interests include social justice and civil liberties issues, volunteerism and its vital role in civil society, landscape design and Mediterranean-themed gardens — as well as books, music, hiking, kayaking and travel. Married since 2003, he and his mate consider themselves fortunate beyond measure to have been born in Canada, and to live and thrive in a safe, tolerant society. Jamie believes that we have a duty to reach out and provide refuge where we can for LGBTQ people who are experiencing persecution and daily threats to safety and survival.
Kevin joined the board of directors in early 2021. He has lived on Vancouver Island since 2006 and works as a “content creator” in the non-profit, charitable sector. Kevin was raised in small-town Alberta and then studied and worked in both Edmonton and Calgary. His volunteer work in the AIDS movement during the 1980s eventually led to full-time employment at AIDS Calgary. The AIDS epidemic, and the community responses that developed during those years, provided him with enduring lessons about social justice, human rights, citizenship and leadership. Kevin hopes to bring his previous experiences, education in social work, and interests in helping others to ROAR.
Kevin Midbo, Sponsorship Group Representative