Pre-Conference Workshops -- June 9, 2020

The goal of pre-conference workshops is to enhance learning and skills in support of trauma-and violence-informed approaches with children, youth or adults.

Workshop options are full day events (9:00 AM to 4:00 PM). Option 2 will take place at the Faculty of Education, Western University, 1137 Western Rd., London, ON. All other workshops will take place at RBC Place, 300 York St., London, ON

Option 1: Addressing Mental Health and Well-Being Disparities Among LGBT2Q+ Youth Through Structured Programming

Presented By: Dr. Alicia Lapointe, Research Scientist and Adjunct Research Professor at Western University


This interactive, discussion-based workshop will enhance participants’ understanding of challenges that impact Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Two-Spirit, Queer/Questioning (LGBT2Q+) youth, and explore a promising intervention, The Healthy Relationships Program for LGBT2Q+ Youth, which affirms sexual and gender diversity and encourages adolescents to process and cope with victimization in healthy ways. This flexible and adaptable program includes 18 sessions, each lasting 45 minutes.  Workshop attendees will develop an understanding of the fundamental principles of the program and the focus of the individual sessions.  Participants will also experience a variety of program activities and have opportunities to engage in practice facilitation.  Each participant will receive a program manual and certificate of participation.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify and explore multifaceted challenges that LGBT2Q+ communities face.
  2. Understand the fundamental principles of the Healthy Relationships Program for LGBT2Q+ Youth and participate in program activities.
  3. Engage in practice facilitation of select program sessions.



alicia_l.jpgDr. Alicia Lapointe, Research Scientist and Adjunct Research Professor at Western University
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.  Twitter: @alapoint13 Email:

Option 2: Deepening our understanding of trauma-informed sports within a community-based program: Case Study – The Bounce Back League at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada

Janath-Vesna.jpgMaren-Rojas.jpgPresented By: Maren Rojas, Former Women’s Soccer Coach, Boston College, Master Facilitator, Edge Work Consulting and Janath Vesna, Manager, National Programs, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada


Join us as we unpack what “trauma” entails and how Boys and Girls Clubs staff have been using trauma-informed coaching practices to help increase confidence and resiliency in program participants through a new initiative – the Bounce Back League. Basic information about trauma and trauma-informed approaches to recreation/coaching will be explored and participants will have the opportunity to try out some Bounce Back League activities in a fun, supportive environment.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To deepen understanding of trauma
  2. Investigate the ways sport, physical activity, and play can heal
  3. To learn how trauma shapes behavior
  4. Learn and try-on trauma-informed practices

Option 3: Making Mindfulness Matter: Creating a Culture of Resiliency Within the Family

Presented By: Karen Bax, Ph.D., C. Psych., Assistant Professor, Western University and Sarah Wells, BA, C.T.S.

Description of Workshop

In today’s busy, on-demand world, with our lives filled with screens and our brains having to process more stimuli than any other point in time— learning to take a “mind break” is important for reducing stress and learning to be in the present moment. This is especially important within the family context, where levels of stress for parents and children is on the rise.  Supporting parents to cope and manage their stress can help them better meet their child’s emotional, psychological and behavioural needs and in turn, parents can then support their child’s development of social, emotional and self-regulation skills.  

This workshop will be centered around a mindful model of parenting that provides a framework for parents to respond to stressful situations in a way that builds resilience within the family. This model integrates many of the concepts and skills taught in the Making Mindfulness Matter (M3) program. Through this model, participants will learn how stress affects the brain and behaviour, and how to create a mindful gap between our thoughts and feelings and our behaviour, so that we can make the choice to respond, rather than react.

Participants will engage in multiple interactive skills aimed at teaching mindful parenting and then learn how to use these skills with their child, enabling parents and children to have a common language and skill set to use to boost their resilience as a family.

This workshop teaches universal strategies for dealing with stressful situations that can be incorporated into the everyday. Although targeted to teaching these skills within the family, anyone attending will learn ways to pay better attention to their thoughts, feelings and behaviour through mindful awareness which will then help them make better choices about how to respond.  The M3 program, which this workshop is based on, is a community-university partnership, meant to reach those of a diverse background and family composition.  

Learning Objectives:

  1. Will understand how our brain works under stress and how mindfulness practice can help us respond rather than react to stressful situations.
  2. Will learn a mindful model of parenting that can help build resilience and self-regulation within the parent, child and family
  3. Learn and practice many concrete mindfulness skills, mindful breathing techniques, and social-emotional and positive well-being methods to use with parents/guardians and children.


Karen_bax.jpgKaren Bax, Ph.D., C. Psych., Assistant Professor, Western University
Karen is the Director of Western’s Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre at Merrymount, a unique university-community collaboration that emphasizes early child development research in real-world settings and knowledge sharing across systems.  Registered as a Clinical Psychologist, Karen engages in training future scholars and practitioners through in-class teaching and as the practicum supervisor for students in the Ph.D. in School and Applied Child Psychology program. Karen is passionate about increasing the well-being and resilience of families both within the clinical and research context.  Her applied prevention and early intervention research is related to the benefits of mindfulness, social-emotion skills and positive psychology for child, parent and family well-being. Karen’s area of research is also in early child development related to social-emotional learning and self-regulation of children who have experienced adversity. 

Sarah_W.jpgSarah Wells, BA, C.T.S.
Sarah Wells is a child and parent group facilitator at Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre. She uses her training in Play Therapy and Mindfulness to help guide her work with families. Sarah is a trained facilitator the Circle of Security and is a certified Trauma and Loss Specialist through the TLC Institute. Sarah is an Adjunct Professor of Field Education and mentors many students who are completing their internship.

Option 4: Understanding our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people

9:00 AM- 12:00 PM - Natalie Clark, PhD, Associate Professor, Thompson Rivers University (Description coming soon)

1:00 to 4:00 PM

Tracing Métis Trauma through Historical and Lived Experience

Presented by: Jesse Thistle, PhD, Assistant Professor, Author, Vanier & Trudeau Scholar

Description of Workshop

By tracing one Métis family over 150 years, Thistle will show how inter-generational trauma impacted road allowance people in Saskatchewan, then track its impacts across time to contemporary times where he will illustrate its impacts on his own life. Thistle will end the exercise by offering solutions in dealing with multiple layers of historical and personal CPTSD. Again, he offers this tool kit through lived experiences of recovery and self-care learned in academia and in recovery of kin ties and history.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the roots of historical Métis trauma.
  2. Understand the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences.
  3. Explore the roots of addiction and adult mental health challenges and the trauma of poverty.


Jesse_Headshot.jpgJesse Thistle, PhD, Assistant Professor, Author, Vanier & Trudeau Scholar
Jesse Thistle is a Métis-Cree-Scot Ph.D. Candidate in the History program at York University in Toronto, he also teaches there as an assistant professor (probationary lecturer) where he is working on theories of intergenerational and historic trauma of the Métis people. This work, which involves reflections on his own previous struggles with addiction and homelessness, has been recognized as having a wide impact on both the scholarly community and the greater public.

Thistle obtained a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies with a Specialized Honours in History from York University in 2015. His undergraduate thesis is entitled: James Bay and Mattawa as an Interconnected Fur Trade Region: Illuminating Lake Timiskaming’s Historic Metis Community and was supervised by York historian Carolyn Prodruchy. He completed a Masters of History at the University of Waterloo in 2016 where his thesis was entitled: The Puzzle of the Morrissette-Arcand Clan: A History of Metis Historic and Intergenerational Trauma and where he worked with Susan Roy. In the fall of 2016 Thistle began work on a PhD in the History Department at York University.

Thistle is a Trudeau Scholar, a prestigious award administered by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a Vanier scholar and was awarded a Governor General's Silver Medal in 2016. He has won numerous other awards, including the Odessa Award in 2014 and the Dr. James Wu prize in 2015 for his paper "We are children of the river: Toronto’s Lost Metis History."