Promoting Healthy Relationships for Youth: Creating Spaces that Support Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Promoting Healthy Relationships for Youth: Creating Spaces that Support Equity, Diversity and Inclusion


Sarah Burke

Sarah Burke is the current Acting National Director of Respect Education for Canadian Red Cross.  Sarah has worked for the Canadian Red Cross for the past 28 years with a significant portion in Indigenous communities across Canada. She is also now leading the development of a national approach for social emergencies for the Red Cross.

One of the main areas of focus for Sarah is leading the Canadian Red Cross integrated programming response in Canada’s North – specifically a large portion of time in Nunavut. On contract to the Government of Nunavut, Department of Education, Red Cross provides core training in holistic violence prevention including healthy relationships, sexual abuse and impacts of colonization. For the past two years, Red Cross has also been providing focused psychosocial support to communities after a crisis of social emergency.

Sarah has attended the World Health Organization 2nd and 8th Milestones meeting of its Violence Prevention Global Campaign and is the National Co-Chair of Prevention of Violence Canada which is working to enact Canada’s first national charter on violence prevention.

Sarah brings her passion and commitment for prevention education and community engagement experience to her role. Her personal goal with her work for Red Cross is to ensure all children and youth in Canada grow up immersed in safety and rights-based education.

Wendy Craig
Dr. Wendy Craig is a leading international scientist and expert on bullying prevention and the promotion of healthy relationships.  As co-founder and Scientific Director of PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network), she has transformed our understanding of bullying and effectively translated the science into evidence-based practice, intervention, and policy and had a profound influence on communities across Canada. In recognition of her work, she has won numerous awards such as an Investigator Award from CIHR, the Canadian Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Community Service, the Queen’s Excellence in Research Prize, Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council Impact Partnership Award.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and was recently awarded the Order of Canada for her work on bullying, victimization, and knowledge mobilization.  She is a professor and Head of the Department of Psychology.
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Joanne Cummings
Dr. Joanne Cummings is the Knowledge Mobilization Director of PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) and a child psychologist in private practice.  She received her Ph.D. in clinical developmental psychology from York University, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children.  Dr. Cummings’ research has examined the effects on children of exposure to intimate partner violence, and she has conducted several evaluations of parent-child relationship-focused interventions. Dr. Cummings has been doing bullying prevention work since the 1995, and is immensely grateful to have worked with PREVNet since its inception in 2006. PREVNet’s scientific directors Drs. Debra Pepler and Dr. Wendy Craig, university researchers, and graduate students from across Canada have together created a culture of inter-disciplinary knowledge sharing and selfless collaboration. Multiple strands of research evidence have coalesced in the last decade that highlight the critical importance of healthy relationships at all ages and stages to prevent bullying and other forms of interpersonal violence. Joanne has had a front-row seat learning from PREVNet researchers as they built the evidence based knowledge foundation on which diverse bullying prevention projects are situated. Dr. Cummings takes great pleasure mobilizing this knowledge so it can be taken up and acted upon by PREVNet partner organizations from diverse sectors: education, health, mass media, social media, sport and recreation, government, and industry.  It has been a privilege for Dr. Cummings to see PREVNet partner organizations succeed in promoting healthy relationships and healthy social climates, positively impacting the children and youth they serve. As a clinician with a busy private practice, Joanne is constantly reminded of the need for PREVNet. Too many individuals endure significant stress induced by unhealthy relationships, whether in the family, school, or peer group.  It is Joanne’s passion to contribute to a shared ethos that enables all children grow up experiencing respectful, just, and nurturing relationships wherever they live, learn, work, and play.
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Deinera Exner-Cortens
Deinera Exner-Cortens is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, and is jointly appointed to the Department of Psychiatry, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. Dr. Exner-Cortens is also a full member in the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, and an Associate Member in the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education. She holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology (Cornell University) and a Master of Public Health (Boston University). Dr. Exner-Cortens' research focuses on 1) evaluating healthy relationships/mental health promotion activities in school and community settings, 2) developing and evaluating implementation support tools for school-based mental health/healthy relationships service delivery; and 3) prevention of adolescent dating violence. In her work, Dr. Exner-Cortens collaborates with a number of community and research partners both provincially and nationally. Dr. Exner-Cortens currently holds an Early Career Award in Supporting Child and Youth Mental Health Outcomes in Alberta School Settings, sponsored by Alberta Health Services/PolicyWise.
Katholiki Georgiades
Katholiki Georgiades, PhD., holds the David R. (Dan) Offord Chair in Child Studies and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at McMaster University and the Offord Centre for Child Studies. Using population based studies, her research focuses on quantifying and reducing social inequalities in child and youth mental health, with a special emphasis on migrant populations and the school setting as an optimal context for interventions. She leads two provincial studies – the 2014 Ontario Child Health Study and the School Mental Health Surveys – and a local study of migrant youth and their families and schools. Combined these studies include over 45,000 children, youth and their families across 180 communities and 250 schools in Ontario. The studies use common core measurement approaches that allow for harmonization of data and analyses that generate robust evidence on the epidemiology and socio-contextual determinants of child and youth mental health and functioning.
Sharon Hoover

Sharon A. Hoover, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Co-Director of the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH, She currently leads NCSMH efforts to support states, districts and schools in the adoption of national performance standards for quality and sustainability of comprehensive school mental health systems ( Dr. Hoover has led and collaborated on multiple federal and state grants, with a commitment to the study and implementation of quality children’s mental health services.

Creating safe, supportive and trauma-responsive schools has been a major emphasis of Dr. Hoover’s research, education and clinical work. Since 2004, she has worked with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Treatment Services Adaptation Center for Resiliency, Hope and Wellness in Schools, to train school district and school leaders, educators and support staff in multi-tiered systems of support for psychological trauma. She has trained school and community behavioral health staff and educators in districts across the United States, as well as internationally, including consultation on building safe and supportive school mental health systems in Canada, China, Northern Ireland, South Korea, and Ukraine. As an advisor to the World Health Organization, Dr. Hoover has provided consultation and technical assistance on comprehensive school mental health in several countries, including developing and implementing a student mental health curriculum for teachers throughout the Middle East and developing and evaluating a school-based intervention to support immigrant and refugee youth in Canada and the United States. Dr. Hoover served as a Resource Specialist for the National Resource Center on Youth Violence Prevention and Mental Health Promotion, providing technical assistance and resource development for Safe Schools/Healthy Students grantees across the United States. In addition, she serves as a national consultant to the National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, providing support to Promoting Student Resilience grantees in urban school districts impacted by community violence.

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Matthew Johnson
Matthew Johnson is the Director of Education for MediaSmarts, Canada's center for digital and media literacy. He is the author of many of MediaSmarts' lessons, parent materials and interactive resources and a lead on MediaSmarts' Young Canadians in a Wired World research project. As an acknowledged expert in digital literacy and its implementation in Canadian curricula, Matthew is the architect of MediaSmarts' Use, Understand, Create: Digital Literacy Framework for Canadian K-12 Schools.
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Alicia Lapointe
Dr. Alicia Lapointe is an award-winning educator and researcher.  She was recently granted a doctorate in Equity and Inclusive Education from Western University, where she researched GSAs and student activism in Ontario public secular and Catholic high schools.  Alicia works as a Research Scientist for the Centre for School Mental Health, Faculty of Education, Western University, where she oversees the delivery and evaluation of the Healthy Relationships Program for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Two-Spirit, Queer/Questioning (LGBT2Q+) Youth. Alicia also provides queer- and trans-infused professional development for pre/inservice teachers and assists schools with the development and functioning of GSAs.
Lianne Lee
Since 2006, Lianne has led a broad range of community programs and systems-change initiatives that seek to enhance the wellbeing of children and youth from diverse backgrounds. Included is frontline work in after-school community programs early in her career, managing C.A.R.E. for the Ethno-Cultural Children & Youth initiative at the Immigrant Sector Council of Calgary, and managing undergraduate programs and research projects at the Werklund School of Education’s Youth Leadership Centre. Lianne’s research interests include critical service-learning (an educational approach that combines student learning and community engagement), cultural humility and equity literacy in teacher education and practices, parent engagement, and the prevention of bullying and dating violence in schools and communities. Lianne is currently the Director of the Alberta Healthy Youth Relationships Strategy with Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence.
Steven Ma
Steven T.H. Ma is currently a Research Analyst at the Offord Centre for Child Studies and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University. His research interests surround: 1) health and health care disparities among vulnerable child populations; 2) effects of health policies and programmes on health care access, cost, utilization, and quality; and 3) universal health coverage in low-and middle-income countries. He has previously worked for national and international organizations, including the McMaster Health Forum, the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health, and the World Health Organization Headquarters. Steven holds a BSc Life Sciences from McMaster University and an MSc Global Health from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
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Faye Mishna
Faye Mishna is Dean and Professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto and is cross-appointed to the Department of Psychiatry. Faye holds the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Chair in Child and Family. Faye has conducted research on bullying, cyber bullying, sexting and the impact of cyber technology in traditional face-to-face counseling and interventions with vulnerable children and youth. Her scholarly publications have focused on bullying and cyber bullying, clinical practice and social work education and more recently on cyber technology in social work clinical practice. Faye is the author of a book on bullying published by Oxford University Press in 2012 and is co-author of a book on bullying in Canada, published by Oxford University Press in 2015. She has a small private practice in consultation and therapy.
Brenda Morrison
Brenda Morrison is the Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice and an Associate Professor in the School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University.   She is a social psychologist with teaching, research and field experience in outdoor education, governance and justice.    She has worked with the Federal and Provincial Ministries of Justice on Justice Reform and Restorative Justice, and is a member of the Children's Rights Academic Network.  Her work focuse on the intersections of justice, rights, relational ecology and emotional intelligence.
Taylor Morton
Taylor joined Equitas in January 2018, however she was engaged with Equitas’ work as a child and youth worker for over 5 years. She works in Equitas’ office in British Columbia, supporting programming in Canada. Taylor has spent 10 years as a front line staff running programs for children and youth. Previously she worked in a school district as part of the community schools partnership team where she facilitated, developed and supported the implementation of outside of school time programs for vulnerable children and youth. Taylor is passionate about youth engagement and community building.
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Jhonel Morvan
Statistician and Economist in a former life, Jhonel Morvan was a math teacher and department head for many years before accepting a position in 2009 as an Education Officer at the Ontario Ministry of Education where he's been working since. He holds a M.Ed. in Educational Administration from the University of Ottawa, an Honor Specialist in mathematics from York University, and both Principal’s Qualifications. Jhonel has taught mathematics and French as second language (FSL) at Wilfrid Laurier University and Issues in educational leadership at University of Prince Edward Island. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Brock University. His research interest focuses on school leadership, inclusion, equity in mathematics, mathematics achievement of racial minorities, and teachers’ expectations.
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Brenda Restoule

Dr. Brenda Restoule (Waub Zhe Kwens) is from Dokis First Nation (Migisi Dodem). She is clinically trained as a psychologist from The University of Western Ontario and Queen's University. She has worked with First Nations people for 20 years in various contexts including incarcerated women, children’s mental health and First Nation community mental health. The majority of her professional practice is currently dedicated to working in Nipissing First Nation where she provides consultation, supervision, direct clinical interventions as well as program and community development.

Dr. Restoule also does consultation work with government on issues related to Indigenous mental wellness and is currently co-chairing the First Nation Mental Wellness Continuum Framework Implementation Team Committee with Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, the Assembly of First Nations, and First Nation and Init Health Branch. She is a regional, national and international speaker and trainer on a variety of topics related to Indigenous wellness and has authored publications and manuals on this topic. Dr. Restoule is the CEO of the First Peoples Wellness Circle, an Indigenous organization dedicated to promoting wellness in Indigenous communities using Indigenous knowledge and evidence.

She is passionate about promoting life (reducing suicide rates) and improving wellness in First Nation communities through capacity building and community development.
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Steve Sider
Dr. Steve Sider is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He teaches courses in global education, school leadership, and special education. His research interest is in educational leadership in international contexts. He currently holds three Canadian national research grants examining inclusive leadership practices of Canadian school principals. Recent publications have included a co-edited book which provides comparative and international perspectives on education as well as articles in International Studies in Educational Administration, Canadian Journal of Education, and Comparative and International Education. He travels regularly to Haiti and Egypt where he is involved in school leadership and special education training and research. Prior to his work in the Faculty of Education, Dr. Sider was a school administrator, special education teacher, and classroom teacher for 15 years.
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Rebecca Ulrich

Rebecca Ulrich is the Education Manager for Canadian Red Cross in Manitoba and Nunavut. Rebecca has been working for the Canadian Red Cross for the past 10 years with a focus on partnering with First Nation, Metis, and Inuit communities to create safer communities and promote healthy relationships through prevention education.

Currently, Rebecca is leading the implementation of integrated programming in Manitoba and supporting this approach in Nunavut. Through both government contributions and private donations, the Red Cross has had the opportunity to deepen our relationships with Indigenous communities in Manitoba and Nunavut through a community engagement approach that is influencing the development of the organization’s national framework.


Rebecca is a passionate advocate of each person’s right to safety and dignity, and as a Canadian-settler continues to strive to be an ally and work alongside Indigenous peoples in a path toward reconciliation.
Tracy Vaillancourt
Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in School-Based Mental Health and Violence Prevention at the University of Ottawa where she is cross-appointed as a full professor in Counselling Psychology, Faculty of Education and the School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences. She is also an elected member of The College of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Vaillancourt's research examines the links between bullying and mental health, with a particular focus on social neuroscience. She is currently funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada, and the National Institute of Mental Health.
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Irene Vitoroulis
Irene Vitoroulis completed her Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Ottawa and she is currently an Ontario Women’s Health Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University. Her research focuses on understanding the role of ethnicity and immigrant status in the prevalence of bullying between groups, and the extent to which the school context conditions risk for victimization among minority youth. She is also investigating the prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders among adolescents from refugee and immigrant backgrounds and the extent to which social stressors and family processes contribute to a higher risk of mental health issues. Her main research program focuses on the effects of social processes in schools and how negative peer interactions (such as bullying) and positive experiences (e.g., support, safety) contribute to immigrant youths’ psychosocial adjustment.
Kristopher Wells
Dr. Kristopher Wells is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Care, Faculty of Health and Community Studies at MacEwan University. His scholarly work specializes in sexual and gender minority youth, health, education, and culture. Currently, Dr. Wells serves as the Co-Editor of the International Journal of LGBT Youth and has been engaged in many ground-breaking educational projects such and Pride Tape. Dr. Wells’ early career work has been recognized with over 50 scholarly and community awards and recognitions including the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Public Education Award, University of Alberta’s Alumni Horizon Award, and an Alberta Centennial Medallion.
Lana Wells
Lana Wells has over 20 years of experience working with non-profit organizations as well as government bodies as a researcher, planner, strategist, policy analyst, project manager, evaluator, facilitator, and trainer. She is currently the Brenda Strafford Chair in the Prevention of Domestic Violence at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Canada where she leads Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence; a large scale primary prevention initiative ( Her key areas of expertise include: Prevention of family and sexual violence, scaling evidence-based programs and policies, engaging men and boys in violence prevention, social policy and planning, collaborative social change efforts as well as leadership and organizational change within the not for profit sector and government relations. In addition to her role as the Brenda Strafford Chair, Lana is a fellow and a faculty member at the School of Public Policy, where she teaches social policy in Canada and supervises students.
Laura Wright

Laura Wright, MA, MEd, is a professional practitioner and research consultant with experience in children’s rights, children’s meaningful participation, child protection, play, and psychosocial wellbeing in diverse development and humanitarian contexts. She is a member of the International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD) Leadership team, an associate for organizations such as the ResiliencebyDesign Research Lab, and a Supervisor and Sessional Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and Simon Fraser University.   Laura is a PhD Researcher at the University of Edinburgh, and holds a Masters of Education, University of Toronto and Masters of Arts, Royal Roads University. Her work with children, youth, and adults has spanned Africa (East and West), Middle East, Asia, North America, and Europe. Laura is active on Canadian and international boards (e.g. Canadian Coalition of the Rights of the Child), networks (e.g. International Child Protection Network of Canada), and research teams (e.g. International and Canadian Child Rights Research Partnership) to support collaboration and transformation across sectors and disciplines.