Knowledge Panel

Do you want to learn more about the complex issues surrounding homelessness in Nanaimo?

The Nanaimo Homeless Coalition Knowledge Panel is formed of a variety of speakers who are available upon request to virtually present on their area of expertise to public groups. The speakers have a wide range of expertise in areas like mental health, stigma reduction, homeless services and housing issues.

If you would like to arrange for one of our presentations, please email:

Isha Matous-Gibbs

Isha comes from a professional background in community services, particularly working with marginalized and vulnerable adults at homeless shelters in Victoria, BC. Her time working with the Victoria Cool Aid Society and PEERS Victoria gave her insight into the gaps in community services and illuminated the struggles that folks on the edge experience. She is now the Executive Director of the Nanaimo Unitarian Shelter and enjoying the chance to make impacts on the broader community. This knowledge is what prompted her to return to University and get BA of Health and Community Services at the University of Victoria. She is now perusing her MA in Community Planning. She hopes to bring a trauma-informed lens to Planning to support the development of resilient and equitable societies. Aside from professional and educational backgrounds, Isha has lived experience with homelessness, mental health and poverty.


Homeless services, coordination of services and social support systems, planning, stigma reduction, mental health.

Andrew Thornton

Andrew is a long-time social activist with a research focussed background in Sociology and Equity Studies (PhD, University of Toronto). He has taught interdisciplinary / anti-oppression studies in Canada and the United Kingdom. Andrew has directed and contributed to large- and small-scale research projects on social justice in the contexts of education, sport and popular culture. He is a published researcher, and has presented his work at national and international conferences on social justice, education and research methodology. Andrew was Co-coordinator of the Reaching Home: Point-in-Time Count for the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition in 2018 and 2020 for which he also wrote the final community report(s). Andrew has been working for the Centre for Justice, Education and Research (CJER) at the Nanaimo Region John Howard Society (NRJHS) since Summer 2017 on Restorative Justice, Employment, and Housing and Homelessness. The purpose of the CJER is to foster collaborative research between the NRJHS and stakeholders in the promotion and restoration of justice in the community.  


Social Research, Power, Identity and Difference, Anti-Oppression Studies and Practice, Housing and Homelessness

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