Written by Inès Aboujja-Tessier

A former cook with a B.A. in Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health from the University of Toronto and the beginnings of an M.A. in Social Work, Victoria is full of surprises!

She has been volunteering at St. Raphael’s for over two years now. Her main tasks are to spend time with guests, chatting and forging the strong and sincere connections that make them comfortable and open up. According to Victoria, being a St. Raphael’s volunteer also requires the ability to understand and anticipate people’s needs without them necessarily having to make explicit requests.

During her studies, Victoria spent a lot of time contemplating death and studying the role it plays in life. It was during her graduate studies that her desire to work with people at the end of life became apparent to her.

What she loves most about St. Raphael’s is being with our guests, chatting with them and listening to their life stories, hearing where they come from, about their experiences, and so on. As she says, each person is extraordinary in their own way!

In her spare time, Victoria enjoys cooking (especially Katharine Hepburn’s brownie recipe), gardening and ceramics. She is also learning Irish and has been playing the harp for two years.

If Victoria were to choose a piece of art about death, she would recommend When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi. This book gave her goosebumps and led her to think a lot about what we leave behind.

A perfect day for Victoria is the simplicity of a walk in the woods or cooking with her 8-year-old son!

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