Board of Directors
Executive Director/Treasurer - Tove Reece
Director/Vegan Outreach/Secretary - Karin Nelson
Director/Humane Education - Elena Napora
Director/Communications - Maxwell Mah
Director/Wildlife - Silvia Soto - Oruezabal
Executive Director (Treasurer/Rescue) - Tove Reece
I've been involved in animal rights for about 30 years and co-founded Voice for Animals Society in 1997. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a special affinity for animals and have loved being around them. I always considered animals as fellow beings, never seeing them as the other.
Like most people I grew up eating meat but somewhere in my 20s I started to connect the dots and it dawned on me that the animals on my plate did not want to die. I soon became aware of the terrible suffering that the animals we raise for food endure. The decision to become vegetarian was an easy one but regrettably, it took me 15 long years to go vegan. The exploitation and suffering of animals is everywhere, leading me to the realization that if animals are being used for profit, there is/will be abuse. To overcome any fears I had in working for animal rights, I developed my own personal motto: there is nothing anyone can do to me that is worse than what animals have to endure . This has given me strength whenever I’ve had to face angry, hostile, threatening opposition, being arrested at WEM or even just speaking to a room full of people.
What keeps me fighting is the terrible injustice towards animals. What keeps me going is the wonderful world of caring, generous, selfless animal rights people.
Director (Vegan Outreach) - Karin Nelson
I am a retired Fire Captain, am the mom of two great adult children now finding their niche in this world, the current guardian of two dogs and three cats, and am known to be outspoken on issues that matter to me. After a random discussion in early 2013 with my father about the disgusting horse slaughter plant in southern Alberta, my eyes began to open and I began the transition to a vegan lifestyle in the spring of 2013.
I have considered myself an animal lover all my life and recognized the need to rescue and adopt animal companions. Sadly, I did not make the connection to the importance of the lives of all animals until fairly recently. In 2013, after that chat with my Dad, I started to take the step to look at some on the undercover work of various animal advocacy groups and began to look at the harsh reality of horse culling and slaughter, puppy mills, the dog meat industry in Asia, the lives and slaughter of food animals in North America and Europe as well as the leather and fur industry
in China, Pakistan and worldwide. It was all far worse than anything I could have imagined and immediately I knew I could make a difference by going vegan.
Firstly , I am vegan for the animals but the environmental benefit and health advantages of a vegan lifestyle are a huge bonus. When I found Voice for Animals in 2014, I knew that the Vegan Outreach Committee would be a place where I could help spread the word about veganism. In the short time I have embraced veganism, I have seen big changes in the movement and look forward to many more years of helping more people learn to live a more compassionate, sustainable and healthy lifestyle.
"It costs us so very little to go vegan, but it costs our animal friends everything they have if we don't."
Director (Humane Education) - Elena Napora
I am a retired teacher. From the start, my teaching career focused on global education (how our choices impact other people—locally and globally) and environmental education (how our choices impact our planet).
Soon after, as I became more fully aware of how animals are being treated—on farms, in the wild, in captivity for entertainment purposes, in homes, in product testing and research, and in so many other areas—I incorporated education about the plight of animals and our impact on their lives.
It was then that the pieces of the Social Justice puzzle came together for me. It was then that I truly connected with this reality: How society treats animals is a social justice issue. It’s no different from civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and other rights. The only difference is in species—in the group that they belong.
To subject other people (sentient, human animals) to persecution, suffering and harm is discrimination; to subject other species (sentient, nonhuman animals) to persecution, suffering and harm is speciesism. Both forms of persecution are unjust.
Raising awareness about and working towards the common well-being of people, animals, and the environment is called Humane Education. I’m very thankful to be a part of this social justice movement and look forward to the day when more and more people make that connection, and work towards a more just, peaceful, and compassionate world.
Communications - Maxwell Mah
I am an electronics technologist in the media industry.
In the early days, I was one of the people in society who didn't make the connection with animals and animal issues—how animals play such a vital role in our world, our ecology, our connection to the natural world and how animals shape and share this world with humans. I knew there was something terribly wrong with the world but did not figure out the root cause, especially before the social media explosion, society’s world outlook, perceptions, and views about the natural world were limited in scope and were shaped by corporate funded interests.
In 2013, I read T. Colin Cambell's book "The China Study" which was my initail step into awakening to what humans are doing to animals and the devastating consequences that it has on our world. In 2014, during Edmonton’s International Fringe Theatre Festival, I met one of the Directors of Voice for Animals Society; she was working at her information table along Whyte Avenue, distributing information about the plight of animals and discussing animal issues and other social justice issues with passersby. She spoke with passion, conviction and was very knowledgeable about many issues. As I looked through the literature on the table, and spoke with her, I realized that creating a better world for animals—a world free from exploitation and abuse—is creating a better, more peaceful world for all. She handed me a resource sheet with links to documentary videos, websites, and books about animal issues, human health, environmental and social justice issues, and veganism. I went home and looked up the information on that resource sheet and I realized these issues, the exploitation of animals, was the root problem of so many wrongs in the world all along; it has helped me realize my life purpose. I became vegan and now distribute that resource sheet in the hope that it will change lives for the better, just like it has changed mine.
My favourite activist and philanthropist Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” I’m grateful and proud to be working with Voice for Animals Society to create a more compassionate world for animals—a world of peace and freedom from exploitation and abuse.
Director (Wildlife) - Silvia Soto - Oruezabal.
I was born in Patagonia Argentina. I have always loved animals but I became an advocate when I found out that the provincial governments in Patagonia were paying bounties for killing pumas, considering them vermin. Patagonia as well as Canada represents some of the very few corners of the planet where wilderness still exists, but this is changing at an alarming pace. Some years ago, I realized that unless we change the way we relate to our environment soon most of the living species on the planet will be gone and what we do to animals we do to ourselves.
Thinking of Patagonia without pumas is painful for me. Thinking of Canada without wolves, bears, mountain lions as well many other species is thinking of a world not worth living in. According to James Snider, vice-president of science, research and innovation for WWF-Canada in 2014, Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970.
We won't be able to create a peaceful world unless we learn to relate differently to animals. I have collaborated with different organizations helping wild and domestic animals from Argentina, Spain and now Canada.
I believe change is possible, but we shouldn't waste any time. After years of advocacy I have also learned that we won't get to a peaceful and more compassionate world through hating those who disagree with us. This can be one of the biggest challenges.
The revolution for a better and loving world starts with looking at ourselves and what surround us with new eyes, and rewilding our hearts.