The presenters and artists below participated in the national Families in Canada Conference 2019 in Ottawa on March 27 and 28, 2019.

MARCH 27 AND 28, 2019 (ARCHIVED)

The Families in Canada Conference 2019 brought together diverse leaders from multiple fields and disciplines who study, serve and support families for two days of knowledge-sharing and catalytic conversation.

Note: Presenters whose names are followed by an asterisk (*) were featured in the portions of the conference that were livestreamed to the satellite events. When available, presenters’ names have been hyperlinked to full-length bios.

Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos

Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos*
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos is Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, a role he has served in since September 2016. Jean-Yves was the Director of the Department of Economics and a tenured professor at Université Laval. As a well-published author, conference speaker and renowned economics expert, he was often asked to comment on current events in Quebec and Canada.

Anil Arora

Anil Arora*
Chief Statistician, Statistics Canada

Canada’s Chief Statistician since September 2016, Anil Arora has led a variety of initiatives throughout his career, with experience and partnerships spanning all three levels of government, the private sector and international organizations, including the United Nations and the OECD. He has led projects on high-profile policy issues and legislative and regulatory reform, and he has overseen large national programs.

Mary Gordon

Mary Gordon, CM, ONL*
Founder/President, Roots of Empathy

Mary Gordon is an internationally recognized and award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert. Mary is founder and President of the Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy programs, non-profit, evidence-based programs dedicated to promoting emotional literacy and empathy among children. Mary is a recipient of the 2018 Governor General’s Innovation Award.

Jan Kestle

Jan Kestle*
President and CEO, Environics Analytics

President and CEO of Environics Analytics (EA), Jan Kestle has been a leader in the marketing information industry for more than 40 years, helping clients in industries ranging from finance and retail to the not-for-profit sector turn data and analytics into insight, strategy and engagement. Jan is a member of the National Statistics Council, the Board of Directors of the Canadian Marketing Association and the Advisory Board of Ryerson University School of Geography.

Dr. Raj Bhatla

Dr. Raj Bhatla, MD, FRCPC, DABPN
Psychiatrist-in-Chief and Chief of Staff, Royal Ottawa Health Care Group
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa

Dr. Raj Bhatla joined the Royal Ottawa Hospital in 1992. He currently holds the position of Psychiatrist-in-Chief and Chief of Staff of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group. Dr. Bhatla is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa and a Vice-Chairperson of the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario. In addition to expertise in concurrent disorders, Dr. Bhatla has an interest in psychiatric ethics and is a member of the Editorial Committee of the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health.

Natasha Bahkt

Natasha Bakht, MA, LLB, LLM
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Natasha Bakht is an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, where she teaches family law. Her expertise is at the intersection of religious freedom and women’s equality, having written extensively about the rights of religious women. With her friend Lynda Collins, she stretched the boundaries of family by becoming legal co-mothers of their son, though they are not in a conjugal relationship. She is the English-language editor of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law. (Photo by Michael Slobodian)

Lisa Wolff

Lisa Wolff*
Director, Policy and Education, UNICEF Canada

Lisa Wolff is Director, Policy and Education at UNICEF Canada. Her mission is to promote public policy and practices in Canada that align with the principles and standards of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. She leverages UNICEF’s global strengths, including data and innovation, and works across sectors with many Canadian partners to advance the rights of Canada’s children. Lisa received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Governor General of Canada in 2012.

Carl Cadogan

Carl Cadogan
CEO, Reception House Waterloo Region

Carl Cadogan is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Reception House Waterloo Region, an organization that welcomes and serves government assisted refugees (GARs) in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region. Carl has a strong multi-disciplinary background obtained in senior roles in the non-for-profit sector and in government. His career spans several areas of professional practice, including community development, human resources, immigrant services, fundraising and government relations.

Lesley A. Tarasoff

Lesley A. Tarasoff, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Toronto Scarborough

Lesley A. Tarasoff is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health & Society (University of Toronto Scarborough) and the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health). She holds a PhD in Public Health from the University of Toronto. Using qualitative and mixed-methods approaches, her research focuses on the sexual, reproductive, perinatal, and mental health of women with disabilities and sexual minority women.

Christian Paradis

Christian Paradis
Acting Director, Families and Care Division, Social Policy Directorate,
Employment and Social Development Canada

Christian Paradis is the Acting Director of Early Learning and Child Care in the Social Policy Directorate at Employment and Social Development Canada. Christian is responsible for overseeing the bilateral Early Learning and Child Care agreements with provinces and territories as well as the early learning and child care data strategy. Christian has worked in the federal public service for over 20 years and has previously held various positions at Employment and Social Development Canada and Finance Canada.

Farhat Rehman, MSM
Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS)
Ottawa Chapter, Canadian Council of Muslim Women

Farhat Rehman is a mother, grandmother and co-founder of Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS), a support group for women who have a close relative in Canada’s correctional system. Farhat is also the Ottawa Chapter lead for Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW), a national organization focused on women’s equality and gender justice. She is recipient of a Women Who Inspire Award (2016) and she received a Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General of Canada in 2017.

Ann Douglas

Ann Douglas
Author, CBC Radio parenting columnist

Ann Douglas sparks conversations that matter about parenting and mental health. She is the weekend parenting columnist for CBC Radio and the author of numerous best-selling books about parenting. Ann’s most recent books are Happy Parents, Happy Kids and Parenting Through the Storm.

Simona Bignami

Simona Bignami, PhD*
Associate Professor, Department of Demography, Université de Montréal

Simona Bignami is an Associate Professor in the Department of Demography at Université de Montréal. She is currently the director of the Groupe d’étude sur la démographie autochtone (GEDA) (research group on Aboriginal demography), which brings together staff and students who are interested in the population dynamics of Indigenous peoples at Université de Montréal, McGill University, and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. In her current work, Simona uses new tools to improve our understanding of Indigenous families, their evolution over time and their well-being.

Rachael Pettigrew

Rachael Pettigrew, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of General Management and Human Resources
Bissett School of Business, Mount Royal University

Rachael Pettigrew is an Assistant Professor in Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University. Rachael’s primary research focus is organizational culture and policies surrounding employees’ work-life responsibilities, focused on gender. Recent projects have explored fathers’ parental leave use and employer adaptation to the extended parental leave legislation. Her secondary research stream investigates workplace diversity and inclusion, specifically recent immigrants.

Donna S. Lero

Donna S. Lero, PhD
University of Guelph
University Professor Emerita, Department of Family Relations

Donna S. Lero co-founded the Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being at the University of Guelph, where she led a research program on public policies, workplace practices and family supports. Her research and policy work focus on integrating paid work and care across the life course, including parental leave, child care, and caregiving for adults and seniors with disabilities or chronic health conditions.

Chaya Kulkarni, PhD

Chaya Kulkarni, PhD
Director, Infant Mental Health Promotion, Hospital for Sick Children

Chaya Kulkarni is Director of Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP) at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Chaya leads activities focused on knowledge translation, research, resource development, advocacy and professional education specific to infant mental health and trauma. Chaya brings to this role over 25 years of experience in a number of leadership roles, including front line service delivery, policy analysis, research and curriculum and resource development.

Katie Christine Wellard

Katie Christine Wellard, PhDc
Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies

Katie Christine Wellard is currently completing her PhD at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies. Katie’s thesis is on historical and new and emerging definitions of family in Canada, as well as their inclusion in law and policy. She is also the mother of an active toddler and a co-foster parent to her 12-year-old niece and 6-year-old nephew.

Alisha Bowie

Alisha Bowie
Aging Out Program Manager, Adoption Council of Canada
Recipient, North American Council on Adoptable Children Youth Advocate of the Year Award (2013)

A former Ontario Crown ward, Alisha Bowie has been an advocate for children and youth in the child welfare system since aging out of that system at 18 without a permanent connection. Her current focus is on economic insecurity among young women and gender diverse populations who have “aged out” (transitioned out) of the child welfare system without a permanent connection or attachment to a figure in the community. In 2017, she launched Journey Home, a bus tour that simulates what it is like for a child or youth to enter or age out of the child welfare system.

Edy-Claude Okalla Bana, PhD

Edy-Claude Okalla Bana, PhD, LMFT, RSW
Licensed Marital and Family Therapist, Registered Social Worker, Registered Psychotherapist
Humaine Harmonie

Before founding Humaine Harmonie, Edy-Claude Okalla Bana was involved in a variety of organizations providing help to families. One of Edy-Claude’s fields of interest is the family impact of constant Internet use. He works with various organizations on Employee Assistance Programs.

Tai Young

Tai Young
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Ambassador
Easter Seals Ontario Ambassador
WE Day Junior Co-Host

Tai Young is an ambassador for multiple agencies, including Holland Bloorview and Easter Seals. An active 15 year old, Tai enjoys wheelchair tennis, mono-skiing and swimming. He also competes in vocal competitions, plays the drums and enjoys musical theatre (he hopes to be on Broadway one day). Tai is not afraid of new experiences and has a positive attitude on life. He is proud to host WE Days across Canada for a second time. He believes that you can do anything you set your mind to, and encourages youth of all ages to be active and to try new things, with the belief that “fear should not be your disability.”

Rachel Margolis

Rachel Margolis, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
University of Western Ontario

Rachel Margolis is a demographer and sociologist whose research addresses how family dynamics shape population change in developed countries. Her current focus is the impact of parental benefits policies on family dynamics and gender equality, how family networks are changing over time and why, and how the thinning of kinship networks affects older adults.

Maya Basudde

Maya Basudde (MayaSpoken)
Spoken Word Artist, Author, Keynote Speaker
Program/Workshop Facilitator, Youth Ottawa

Maya Basudde (MayaSpoken) is an award-winning spoken word artist, author, keynote speaker, workshop facilitator and program facilitator. Since winning her first poetry slam in 2015, in which she shared her story of overcoming abuse and racism throughout her years in high school, she has performed spoken word around Ottawa spreading a message of hope and empowerment. Maya is also founder of the Tell ’Em Girl Women’s Spoken Word Showcase and author of Warriors in Broad Daylight. She is recipient of numerous awards, including the 2017 RBC Spirit of the Youth Capital Award and the 2018 CBC Ottawa Trailblazer Award in 2018.

Dat Tran

Dat Tran
Executive Chef, Manotick Place Retirement Community

Dat Tran was born in Vietnam and immigrated to Canada when he was three years old. After receiving a BSc at McMaster University, Dat moved to Taiwan for eight years, where he worked as an English teacher before becoming the head of the English department. He later moved back to Canada, where he went to Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute, and started his culinary career.

Dat Tran

Susan Aglukark, OC*
Aglukark Entertainment and Arctic Rose Foundation

Susan Aglukark is one of Canada’s most unique and most honoured artists, and the first Juno Award-winning Inuk singer–songwriter. She has worked with a variety of non-profit groups over the years focused on Inuit and Indigenous youth, including running art journaling workshops for youth in Attawapiskat. She founded the Arctic Rose Foundation in 2012, which helps communities address diverse challenges affecting youth, such as education, suicide and health.

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, PhD
Professor and Director, Military Family Research Institute, Purdue University

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University, where she also directs the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) and the Center for Families (CFF). Her research focuses on relationships between job conditions and family life, with special focus on military families. She has served on federal advisory committees for the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Academy of Medicine, and has testified in Congress regarding military and Veteran families.

Bryan Smale

Bryan Smale, PhD*
Professor and Director, Canadian Index of Wellbeing, University of Waterloo

Bryan Smale is Director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing at the University of Waterloo, and a Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies with a cross-appointment to the Department of Geography and Environmental Management. Bryan sits on Statistics Canada’s Advisory Committee on Social Conditions and is Past President of the Canadian Association of Leisure Studies (CALS), Editor in Chief of Leisure/Loisir, and a Fellow in the Academy of Leisure Sciences.

Hadi Wess

Hadi Wess
Founder/President, Syrian Youth Council of Ottawa

Originally from Syria, Hadi Wess arrived in Canada with his family in 2011. He attended the University of Ottawa, where he served as President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa in addition to being a Community Producer and TV/Radio Host. Hadi currently sits on the National Executive of the Canadian Arab Federation and the Board of the Syrian Arab Association of Canada. He is the proud Founder and current President of the Syrian Youth Council of Ottawa.

Parminder Raina

Parminder Raina, PhD
Professor, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University

Parminder Raina is a Professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact (HEI) at McMaster University. Specializing in the epidemiology of aging, he holds a Canada Research Chair in Geroscience and the Raymond and Margaret Labarge Chair in Research and Knowledge Application for Optimal Aging. He is also the Scientific Director of the McMaster Research Institute for Research on Aging and at the Labarge Centre for Mobility in Aging. Parminder is the lead investigator of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, and in 2018 was appointed to the National Seniors Council.

Todd Nicholson

Todd Nicholson, MSc
Five-Time Paralympian
Abilities Centre Ottawa

Todd Nicholson is Previous Chef de Mission for the 2018 Canadian Paralympic team, a five-time Paralympian and Sledge Hockey Gold medallist at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Games. Now retired from competition, Todd is one of the most influential voices for the rights of all athletes internationally and nationally. Todd currently is the Chairperson for Own the Podium and Board member for the Abilities Centre Ottawa and Abilities Centre Durham.

Liping Peng

Liping Peng
Mental Health Worker,
Hong Fook Mental Health Association

Liping Peng migrated from China over two decades ago, and since arriving in Canada has transitioned from practising law to social services. She has worked with various community-based organizations as a domestic violence counsellor, outreach worker and family conflict mediator, and is currently with the Hong Fook Mental Health Association. Her substantial knowledge on mental health and her interactive presentation style have made her a highly respected and sought-after speaker throughout the Mandarin community. Liping was nominated for the CAMH 150 Leading Canadians for Mental Health Award and won the Difference Maker Award in 2018.

Ada Barlatt, PEng, PhD

Ada Barlatt, PEng, PhD
Founder and Senior Digital Collaboration Consultant, OperationsAlly (University of Waterloo, Department of Management Sciences)

Ada Barlatt is a workflow expert, a technology pro and an OperationsAlly who believes technology – when used wisely – increases ease and balance in our lives. Through her work, Ada empowers organizations to create and implement software guidelines that increase productivity, life balance and profits. In addition to running OperationsAlly, Ada is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo. Ada earned her PhD in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan.

Nicola Fear

Nicola Fear
Director and Professor of Epidemiology, King’s Centre for Military Health Research
King’s College London

Nicola Fear joined King’s College London in 2004, after having trained as an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University of Oxford. She has also worked as an epidemiologist within the UK Ministry of Defence. Nicola is the lead epidemiologist on the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) military cohort study and leads several studies examining the impact of military service on families.

Emily Glossop

Emily Glossop
Recreation Therapist, CHEO
Chairperson of the Board, Abilities Centre Ottawa

Emily Glossop is a recreational therapist with CHEO, where she provides therapeutic, educational and support services to children and youth with physical and/or developmental disabilities. Emily advocates for programs and services for people of all abilities to ensure equal opportunities and access. She has received numerous recognitions and awards for her diverse contributions over the years, and she is a 2018 recipient of the Order of Ottawa. Most recently, she was one of 16 women acknowledged for their contributions at CHEO in celebration of International Women’s Day 2018.

David L. Albright, PhD

David L. Albright, PhD*
Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health
Director, Office for Military Families and Veterans, University of Alabama

David L. Albright is the Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health and Director of the Office for Military Families and Veterans at the University of Alabama. His research and scholarship are largely focused on implementation and translation so that it is practically useful for communities, Veterans Service Organizations, health care providers and policy-makers as they work to promote and address health- and well-being-related determinants and outcomes among military personnel, Veterans, and their families and communities.

Deb Benard

Deb Benard
Family Caregiver

Deb Benard is a teacher, artist, gardener, hiker and family caregiver living in Kitchener. At the conference, Deb will talk about her journey of care work for and care relationships with older-generation and same-generation family members.

Kieran B. Drachenberg

Kieran B. Drachenberg
Nunavut Arctic College

Kieran B. Drachenberg is an activist for both the mental health and LGBTQ+ communities. He has been heavily involved in activism since before the age of 13, and he now fights for the rights of all people and actively voices and shares his story in his everyday life to empower others.

Jack Jedwab, PhD

Jack Jedwab, PhD
President/CEO, Association for Canadian Studies/Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration

Jack Jedwab is currently President and CEO of the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) and the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration (CIMI). He is currently the Chair of the Canadian National Metropolis Conference, the country’s largest conference on Immigration and Integration, and the co-chair of the Metropolis North America Migration Policy Forum.

Zayn Khamis

Zayn Khamis
Sales Execution, Kraft Heinz

Zayn Khamis has always been driven by innovative solutions to make large-scale impacts. He has carried this out as a molecular biologist by creating a patent-pending vaccine. He has since worked in the food industry, started a non-profit and has a fascination with the intersection of health and technology. After seeing the burden placed on family caregivers, he became interested in the ways employers can support them and the roles that technology, policy and societal attitudes play in impacting their well-being.

Martine Lagacé

Martine Lagacé, PhD
Professor, Department of Communication
University of Ottawa

Martine Lagacé is a professor in the Department of Communication, affiliated with the School of Psychology, at the University of Ottawa. Her scholarly work addresses age-based bias, specifically ageist stereotypes and discrimination and their impact on older persons. In addition to several scientific papers, she is the main author of two books on the issue of ageism, Understanding and Changing the Way We Look at Aging (2010) and Representations and Discourses on Aging (2015). She is a member of the National Seniors Council.

Rutha Astravas

Rutha Astravas
Director, Employment Insurance Special Benefits, Employment and Social Development Canada

Rutha Astravas is Director of Employment Insurance Special Benefits at Employment and Social Development Canada. EI special benefits include the new Family Caregiver Benefit, compassionate care, sickness, maternity and parental benefits. She has more than 15 years of experience at the federal level and holds a master’s degree in European Politics and Society from Oxford University, specializing in public policy and comparative federalism.

LCol Suzanne Bailey, MSM, CD, MSW

LCol Suzanne Bailey, MSM, CD, MSW
Senior Social Work Officer, Canadian Armed Forces

Lieutenant Colonel Suzanne Bailey joined the Canadian Forces in 1986. After graduating from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1990, she worked as a Military Police Officer for a few years and then completed her MSW in 1996. She was posted to HQ in 2005 after a decade of clinical work, and since 2008, LCol Bailey has led the Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) mental health and resilience training program. In 2011, LCol Bailey was appointed National Practice Leader for Social Work in the Department of National Defence, and Military Occupation Advisor for Social Work. (Photo by Johnny Lam)

Vidal “Johnny” Chavannes

Vidal “Johnny” Chavannes
Student, Jack Miner Public School

Vidal John Chavannes (a.k.a. Johnny) is a 10-year-old Grade 5 student. Enrolled in the Gifted Program at Jack Miner Public School in Whitby, Ontario, he has a passion for science and math. In 2018, he was the School and Board Winner in the Byron-Germain Math Contest. Johnny also participates in competitive dance at the Durham School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. He specializes in ballet, contemporary, jazz, acro and hip-hop.

Heidi Cramm, PhD, OT Reg. (Ontario)

Heidi Cramm, PhD, OT Reg. (Ontario)
Associate Scientist, Strategic Initiatives
Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR)

Heidi Cramm is an Associate Scientist, Strategic Initiatives, at the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR), where she leads the military and Veteran family health research portfolio. Heidi’s research program focuses on military and veteran family health and health system access, mental health and trauma.

Naguib Gouda

Naguib Gouda
Principal, Naguib Gouda Consulting

Bridging the public, not-for-profit and private sectors, Naguib Gouda is the former CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada and former Executive Director with the Ontario Medical Association, and he is currently Principal at Naguib Gouda Consulting. He has worked within Canada’s health care system to help patients, caregivers, researchers, academics and health care providers navigate the issues surrounding and affecting our aging population. Naguib is also the primary caregiver to his 88-year-old father.

Anne Hollonds

Anne Hollonds*
Director, Australian Institute of Family Studies

As Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Anne Hollonds is responsible for conducting research and providing advice to Australian governments on child and family well-being. The Institute conducts quantitative and qualitative research, and translates findings to improve the effectiveness of policy, systems and services for children and families. A leading voice on child and family well-being, Anne is a psychologist and former CEO with more than 35 years of experience in policy and practice in social services, health and education for children and families.

Anne Hollonds

Norah Keating
Director, Global Social Issues on Ageing

Norah Keating is an academic, a mentor, a researcher in families and aging and a family caregiver. She lives in Summerland and Edmonton. At the conference, Norah will speak about her journey of caring for parents and for same-generation family members and friends.

Valerie Steeves

Valerie Steeves, PhD
Full Professor, Department of Criminology,
University of Ottawa

Valerie Steeves is a Full Professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa. Her main area of research is the intersection of human rights and technology. Valerie is the lead researcher of MediaSmarts’ Young Canadians in a Wired World project and the principal investigator of the eQuality Project, both of which explore young people’s experiences and perspectives of networked technologies.

Mark Stolow

Mark Stolow
CEO/President, Canadian Caregiver Network/Huddol

Mark Stolow is a seasoned social entrepreneur and change marketer. In 2004, he co-founded the Canadian Caregiver Network, which grew into the largest caregiver learning network in the country. His most recent impact initiative is Huddol, a social collaboration network that helps Canadians co-create solutions to human health care challenges. For more than 18 years, Mark has helped to inform a more progressive Canadian health care agenda through policy and program development, research and breakthrough communications initiatives.

Yeonjung Lee

Yeonjung Lee, PhD
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary

Yeonjung Lee is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on care, aging in place, social isolation and wealth inequality in later life, and improving quality of life for older adults. Yeonjung conducts country-specific and cross-national/cultural comparative studies. Her SSHRC-funded project, The Complexity of Caregiving Outcomes: Understanding the Role of Social Statuses and Social Resources, addresses both the positive and negative outcomes of family caregiving for older adults and the moderating factors that affect these relationships.

Rayne Fisher-Quann

Rayne Fisher-Quann
Executive Director, March for Our Education

Rayne Fisher-Quann is a student and activist. She advocates for youth engagement, gender equality and equal access to education in her home province and internationally through her organization March for Our Education. Rayne is best known for leading the largest high school walkout in Canada’s history and was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women by Refinery29, as well as a Woman of the Year by Chatelaine magazine.

Cate Cochran

Cate Cochran
Producer, CBC Radio

Cate Cochran is an award-winning radio producer. She has worked at Morningside, As It Happens, This Morning, Writers & Company and The Sunday Edition, and is the author of Reconcilable Differences: Marriages End, Families Don’t, which profiles 10 families (including her own) that reconfigured in unusual and inspiring ways. Cate currently lives in a three-generation house with her mother and daughter and two dogs.

JC (Jean-Charles) Lalonde

JC (Jean-Charles) Lalonde
Youth Justice Worker, Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa

JC Lalonde, the proud father of a 25-weeker micro-preemie, has been on a roller coaster of joys and challenges since Daphné’s birth in July 2016. His interests are in social justice issues, the criminal justice environment and working toward the greater good of society. JC has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences with a minor in criminology, and he has 20 years of professional experience in the social services field, mostly working with young offenders. He lives in beautiful Cantley, Quebec with his wife and daughter. His hobbies include riding his motorcycle and golfing.

Catherine Dubuc

Catherine Dubuc
Co-Founder and Producer,
Unequivocally Family Project

Underpinned by her lived experience with the subject matter, Catherine Dubuc is the co-founder of the Unequivocally Family project. She is passionate about the audiovisual platform through which the lives of Canadian LGBTQ2 families are brought into mainstream discourse on family dynamics. Mother of two dynamic girls, Catherine is an activist for the LGBTQ2 community. With her partner, Louise Lafleur, and her children by her side, together they are Unequivocally Family.

Louise Lafleur

Louise Lafleur
Co-Founder and Photographer,
Unequivocally Family Project

Louise Lafleur’s approach to contemplative photography is one that is anchored in “Miksang,” synchronizing both the eye and mind toward her subjects. Passionate about others’ passions, Louise is intrigued by human connection and the naturally unfolding energies experienced between photographer and subject. Few things in life compare to the touching of a soul to her lens.

Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown
Director General, Employment Insurance Policy, Employment and Social Development Canada

Andrew Brown joined Employment and Social Development Canada in August 2014, where he serves as Director General, Employment Insurance Policy. Andrew leads a team responsible for developing changes to the Employment Insurance program and that is focused on responding to the changing nature of work and evolving family dynamics. He has degrees from Queen’s University (Kingston) and the University of Alberta, and lives with his partner in Ottawa.

Bronwyn Ott

Bronwyn Ott
North America Wellbeing Manager, Unilever

Bronwyn Ott has over 15 years of experience in leading benefits and well-being programs in many Canadian and global organizations. In her current role at Unilever, Bronwyn is evolving the well-being program – which includes physical, mental, emotional and purposeful well-being – to help employees and leaders build resiliency and thrive in an environment of change and disruption. Through innovative and integrated programs and policies, Bronwyn is creating a culture in which employees can bring their best selves to work.

Joanne Law

Joanne Law
Elder Transgender Activist

Keynote speaker, presenter and media contact Joanne Law has helped diverse organizations in Canada and the United States over the last 30 years to understand the experiences and realities of transgender people. She has served in many roles, including Chair of the Capital Pride Festival in 2007 (the first transgender person to fulfill the role) and a speaker and delegate at a United Nations working conference for LGBTQ2 people in New York City in 2013. Joanne has received numerous awards, including seven lifetime achievement awards, 29 community association certificates of appreciation, and the 2016 Community Service Award from the Ottawa Police Service for her 25 years of volunteer support of an OPS LGBT liaison committee.

Diane Daley

Diane Daley, RECE, BA
Director, Development and Programs,
Family Day Care Services

Diane Daley works in the Early Learning sector as the Director of Development and Programs at Family Day Care Services and has an extensive repertoire of experience in the field. Diane is a registered Early Childhood Educator with a BA in Sociology, Gender and Family. She also holds an Undergraduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. Passionate about access, equity and social inclusion, she integrates this lens to promote inclusive, quality services for children and families.

Matthew Pearson

Matthew Pearson

Matthew Pearson and his partner, Alain Lauzon, co-parent two young children with another queer couple, Karin Galldin and Janette Meyrick. A journalist, Matthew told his family’s story in a recent documentary for CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition.

Nora Spinks

Nora Spinks
CEO, The Vanier Institute of the Family

As Chief Executive Officer at the Vanier Institute of the Family, Nora works with individuals and organizations that study, serve and support families to mobilize knowledge and enhance the national understanding of families in Canada. A well-known keynote speaker and author, Nora has dedicated her career to creating innovative policies and programs focusing on health and well-being, caregiving, workplace flexibility and work–life harmony, having served as an advisor and consultant to leaders in business, law, labour, government and community.

Bilan Arte

Bilan Arte
National Representative for Women and Human Rights, Canadian Labour Congress

Bilan is a Black, Muslim feminist residing on unceded and never surrendered Algonquin Territory. She is an activist with more than a decade of experience in grassroots and youth-led movements, and she is fuelled by her passion for social justice and equity. Today, Bilan is the National Representative for Women and Human Rights at the Canadian Labour Congress. In her volunteer time, she is proud to serve as co-president for the board of directors of Planned Parenthood Ottawa and as a national board member for Oxfam Canada.

Marni Brownell

Marni Brownell, PhD*
Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
Senior Research Scientist and Associate Director of Research, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy

Marni Brownell uses administrative health and social services databases to examine child health and well-being, with a spotlight on social influences on health. She currently leads projects focusing on First Nations and Metis child health and development, the health and well-being of children in the child welfare and justice systems, and evaluations of programs designed to improve child development, family functioning and health equity.


In addition to the keynote, panel sessions and posters, there will be a variety of engaging and thought-provoking artistic displays and performances at the National conference (Ottawa) including dance, song, spoken word and photographic exhibits.

Note: Artists whose names are followed by an asterisk (*) will be featured in the portions of the conference that are livestreamed to the satellite events.

Dandelion Dance

Dandelion Dance*
Performance Company

Dandelion Dance Performance Company exists to show that every girl – regardless of background, body type or ability – has a valuable perspective to share with the world. Every year, a group of young women comes together to create and share their own works on the social issues that matter most to them, which often evolve from personal stories and experiences. Dandelion Dance Performance Company challenges traditional notions of who can be a dancer, calls out stereotypes about young women from all walks of life and showcases the power of art as a tool for social change.

Maya Bassude

Maya Basudde (MayaSpoken)
Spoken Word Artist, Author, Keynote Speaker
Program/Workshop Facilitator, Youth Ottawa

Maya Basudde (MayaSpoken) is an award-winning spoken word artist, author, keynote speaker, workshop facilitator and program facilitator. Since winning her first poetry slam in 2015, in which she shared her story of overcoming abuse and racism throughout her years in high school, she has performed spoken word around Ottawa spreading a message of hope and empowerment. Maya is also founder of the Tell ’Em Girl Women’s Spoken Word Showcase and author of Warriors in Broad Daylight. She is recipient of numerous awards, including the 2017 RBC Spirit of the Youth Cap