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From downtown east side of Vancouver to the halls of the EMSB: Meet Gabriella

Thursday, 1 November, 2018 - 12:36 pm

 Gabriella interview.jpg

She taught English in Japan, worked with at-risk youth in the hardest hit area in Canada in terms of addiction, and opened a wildly successful company with just five dollars. 

Meet Gabriella Anderson, Chabad Lifeline's new Youth Counselor. Most of Gabriella's work at Lifeline is in schools throughout Montreal, but we caught her at her desk recently and sat down for a quick chat.

Q. Tell us about your background.

I'm from Vancouver. I completed a bachelors of commerce in the University of Victoria. A school project challenged me to start a company in ten days with five dollars, so I dreamed of this VIP card called a party pass I would sell to students that would get them access to clubs, bars, and parties as well as discounts in local restaurants. Where I made most of the money wasn't selling the card to students. It was ad revenues. Each company that was part of the card paid to be on the party pass. It started in Victoria, then expanded to Vancouver and Whistler.

It pulled me into the party lifestyle, and eventually I got tired of the scene, so I sold the business and moved to Himeji, Japan where I taught English for two years in a school. 

Q. How did you get involved with addiction work?

In Japan, I realized that I had a passion for working with kids and youth but I discovered that I didn't want to be a teacher. I decided to go back to school and complete a Master's in counseling with a specialization in youth.

Part of my master's was doing a practicum in the downtown east side of Vancouver, which is where my passion for addictions work ignited. I was working with at-risk youth as well as the children of parents struggling with addiction and that became an area of focus for me.

Another reason I'm drawn to addiction work is that I have a number of family members whose lives have been touched by addiction.

Q. How did you get to Chabad Lifeline?

Love brought me to Montreal. The love of my life lives here, and we had planned for me to move sometimes around the new year. Then we were sitting together one day and just for fun out of curiosity, we decided to look at the job market. We thought, "is it possible that me, as an English speaker, could get a job in the field I want to be in, in the city of Montreal?"

We looked through some job postings. Chabad Lifeline was one of the first ones I saw that was a perfect match. I thought it was a long shot and I sent my resume. Less than  hours later, the Rabbi called and wanted to interview me. After our interview he wanted to hire me, so the process happened a lot more quickly than I had expected. I got to come here in a matter of weeks rather than months, and it's the best thing that has ever happened to me. I'm so grateful to be here.

Q. What do you find makes Chabad Lifeline unique?

It really feels like home here. It's very welcoming. I noticed as soon as I walked into the building how comfortable it is to be here, and I think that's a good sign because it's important for people to feel safe, especially when going for counseling.

I think that's unique and special. It doesn't feel clinical or like a doctor's office.


We are proud to welcome Gabriella to our ever expanding Clinical Team. She meets with youth at-risk in four of the fifteen school that we service.

If you know any youth that could benefit fro our professional, non-judgmental, and warm youth team, please contact us

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