Corey Balsam – National Coordinator
Corey has long been involved in IJV, both out of his hometown of Ottawa and Toronto. He now lives in Montreal after spending nearly four years living in Palestine, working for Oxfam, where he was involved in research, advocacy, and program management.
Based in Ramallah, Corey frequently hosted young Jews following their Birthright trips.
“I felt that it was important for me to act as a bridge for young Jews who were curious but afraid to cross the divide. Visiting me on the other side of the Wall allowed them to see first-hand the human cost of Israel’s actions and showed them just how unacceptable the status quo really is. I’m happy to report that it never took long for them to see the light. Several have even become active in the movement.”
Corey speaks French, Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish, and some Hebrew. He is experienced in organizational development and outreach to young people and students. He sees the value of drawing on personal stories and Jewish tradition for inspiration in the work we do.
“I see IJV not only as an organization of progressive Jews that support Palestinian rights, but as a space for Jews to develop an alternative Jewish community grounded in principles of true social justice.”
We are confident that Corey will help IJV reach new heights in the coming years.
“The tides are shifting. Jews in Canada are reconsidering their support for Israel like never before and need a way to get engaged. This is a perfect time to step up our efforts and expand our base in the fight for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.”
Tamara Filyavich – Membership Engagement Coordinator
Tamara was born and raised in the city of Yalta in the south of Ukraine. She lived in Israel-Palestine during the first gulf war in the early 90s, before moving to Montreal with her family. That experience had a profound impact on her developing sense of social justice and human rights for all. Over the last 20 years, Tamara has been involved in numerous grassroots struggles: Indigenous solidarity, anti-poverty, opposition to police brutality, prisoner justice as well as BDS campaigning in Montreal.
She worked at CKUT Radio for over a decade, where she actively recruited and trained volunteers in creating social justice-based media and propelling many community reporters onto the local and international scenes. With her support, countless people got involved in fighting for Palestinian human rights, countering antisemitism, as well as racism and exclusion more broadly. She also has a wealth of experience in organizational building and has facilitated needs assessment and campaign development sessions for several community groups in Montreal. Tamara sees her role as helping people to find tools, resources, and encouragement to transform curiosity into dedicated work.
When she is not working to create connections between people, she teaches herbal medicine at the Concordia City Farm school and makes music with several experimental electronic music projects.
Willa Holt – Communications Coordinator
Willa is a North Carolinian living in Tiohtià:ke for the past five years. With experience in Palestinian solidarity from a student journalist perspective and a brief stint in the mainstream blog-o-sphere, they bring their time as an abolitionist organizer back home into conversation with their current work at IJV.
They hold a degree in Anthropology from McGill University, where they worked as Managing Editor for The McGill Daily for two years, including during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. During their time as a Staff Writer for MTL Blog, they injected critical social justice framings into their work while building media connections across Canada.
Willa lives with their beloved cat Ivy and continues to organize with wealth-critical redistribution organization Resource Movement in their spare time.
Steering Committee Members
Sara Rans (chair) – London, ON
Sara Rans is currently Chair of IJV National’s Steering Committee. She is always looking to share information about IJV’s No IHRA and Together Against Apartheid campaigns. She is a retired elementary teacher who loves kids, kindergarten and union work. A long-time political organizer for the NDP, she helped elect an MPP to her local riding. Sara joined IJV to work for justice for the Palestinian people. In her spare time, Sara works to give girls and women a voice in the world; and she enjoys mystery fiction, jazz, and walks along the Thames River.
Asher Kirchner – Edmonton
Asher (Robert) Kirchner (he,him) is a retired professor of linguistics, living in amiskwaci-waskahikan (Edmonton). Asher has been an IJV member since 2017, and joined the steering committee in 2021. He currently serves on the fundraising committee and the Together Against Apartheid campaign. Asher is also active in his Reform shul, and (with limited success) in the Reform Jewish Community of Canada. He identifies as Quaker as well as Jewish. His other interests include cooking, cycling, and anarchist political theory. He is married, with two adult daughters.
Larry Haiven – Halifax
Larry Haiven is a founding member and Executive Committee member of IJV Canada. A former university professor, he has written extensively on Israel-Palestine issues and antisemitism. He co-facilitates a workshop called “Combatting Antisemitism With a Critical Thinking Lens.”
Sarah Boivin – Montreal
Sarah is a Franco-Ontarian Jew from Ottawa, now based in Montreal working on digital services for Indigenous governments. She brings an anti-colonial education and experience in digital communications, community-based organizing, and anti-racism facilitation to her work on the steering committee.
Stephen Aberle – Vancouver
Stephen is an actor, singer, computer programmer and organizer living on the unceded traditional, ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations colonially known as “Vancouver”. He got actively involved in the Palestine solidarity struggle in the late ‘80s, joining Vancouver’s Jews for a Just Peace. He’s been an enthusiastic and active supporter of IJV’s excellent work since the organization’s founding, and is deeply grateful for the wise and kind mentoring and loving community he finds here. He takes his inspiration from Hillel’s dictum: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go study.”
Neil Naiman – Vancouver
Neil Naiman is a retired York University Professor who moved to Vancouver just in time to join IJV Vancouver at its founding in 2008. Though he grew up in a Zionist home and attended Zionist camps and Hebrew Day schools he became politicized during his involvement in the divestment campaign against South African apartheid at York University and continued in the anti-apartheid struggle for many years. He then began to see the parallels between South African and Israeli apartheid and has committed himself to working towards justice for Palestinians.
Rima Berns-McGown – Nova Scotia
Rima is the recovering former NDP MPP for Beaches-East York. Before she was asked to run for the seat, she taught Diaspora Studies at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Rima was born in South Africa of a mixed Jewish-Cape Coloured background and is a lifelong social justice advocate. She is proud of having held her ground in politics — in the face of constant attempted silencing — as a progressive Jew who fought hard against antisemitism, anti-Black racism, and Islamophobia, as well as all other forms of bigotry — and for Palestinian human rights. Rima decided not to run again in 2022, and is writing a book on how to make politics less toxic. As part of IJV Steering Committee, she is looking forward to helping further the mission of our organization.
Jillian Oliver – Toronto
Jillian is a research technician working in Toronto, and has been involved with IJV since Spring 2021. She is relatively new to activism, and is keen on learning from and with life-long activists, as well as other newer members of IJV. She is motivated by challenging the commonly held assumptions that she grew up with in Conservative Jewish Toronto in order to advocate for the Palestinian people and cause, and is keen on fostering an inclusive and progressive Jewish community.