Research Briefings: Trauma and Violence-Informed Approaches

Building Connections: Supporting Community-Based Programs to Address Interpersonal Violence and Child Maltreatment Using Relational, Trauma-Informed Frameworks

Date & Time: January 25, 2021 | 1:00 – 1:20 PM Eastern Standard Time

To register:


The aim of Building Connections was to increase capacity of services providers in CAPC/CPNP/ AHSUNC community-based projects across Canada to identify and respond to interpersonal violence by enhancing trauma-informed and relational approaches. The overarching goals of Building Connections were: 1) to raise awareness among all 800 + CAPC/CPNP/AHSUNC projects of effective ways to support mothers and children facing interpersonal violence; and 2) to evaluate the dissemination of an interpersonal violence intervention for mothers to a subset of 34 CAPC/CPNP/AHSUNC projects in communities across Canada.  Quantitative and qualitative outcomes were measured for CAPC/CPNP/AHSUNC community project staff, certified Connections facilitators, and for mothers who participated in the intervention.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will learn about significant research outcomes for community project staff, certified facilitators, and mothers related to implementation of the Connections group into community-based projects across Canada.
  • Participants will understand the importance of relational, trauma-informed, integrated and collaborative approaches when working with mothers and young children at risk due to interpersonal violence.


Margaret Leslie, DipC.S., C.Psych. Assoc.

Margaret-Leslie-photo_resized.jpgMargaret Leslie is Director of Child and Family Services at the Canadian Mothercraft Society. For the past 35 years, her clinical experience has been in the areas of prevention and early intervention services for families and young children living in conditions of risk.  She was instrumental in the development and implementation of Mothercraft’s Breaking the Cycle program, a CAPC/CPNP project recognized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as a best practice program serving pregnant and parenting women with substance use problems, and their young children, and which partnered in the delivery of Building Connections She led the national replication of Connections, Breaking the Cycle’s trauma-informed intervention for mothers and children experiencing interpersonal violence.

Ms. Leslie is the community co-chair of Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP) and a member of the Province of Ontario’s FASD Expert Advisory Group,  Ms. Leslie is the recipient of the National Harm Reduction Award for Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use Programming, the 2013 Elizabeth Manson Award for Community Service in Children’s Mental Health, and the 2014 City of Toronto Public Health Champion Award.

Ms. Leslie is a member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

Mary Motz, Ph.D., C. Psych. (she/her)

MMotz-photo_resized_5.jpgDr. Mary Motz is a Clinical Psychologist at Mothercraft’s Breaking the Cycle (BTC) program in Toronto and an Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Psychology at York University. Since obtaining her degree in clinical-developmental psychology at York University, she has been working as a clinical psychologist with infants, young children and their mothers who are at risk for maladaptive outcomes due to issues related to maternal substance use and mental health difficulties, trauma, interpersonal violence, systemic discrimination, and poverty.

Dr. Motz has led the program evaluation and research at BTC and has supervised research and clinical practicum students. Dr. Motz has co-authored numerous academic publications and technical reports, as well as provided training nationally and internationally related to promoting healthy development, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder assessment, and trauma-informed interventions for families with infants and young children who have complex needs. Her primary research interests are related to the mechanisms by which mothers living in conditions of risk are able to make changes to improve their own lives and the lives of their infants and young children. 

The Impact of The Peer Education and Connection through Empowerment (P.E.A.C.E) Project 

Date & Time: January 28, 2021 | 1:00 – 1:20 PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME

To register:

The Peer Education and Connection through Empowerment (P.E.A.C.E) project developed a trauma-informed curriculum and facilitated group activities to enhance resiliency and promote overall health of female-identifying youth who have experienced any form of gender-based violence. This presentation will provide an overview of the impact of the project. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to explain the lessons learned about the impact of the Peer Education and Connection through Empowerment (PEACE) project on the health and well-being of female-identified youth experiencing homelessness and Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
  • Participants will be able to identify the study design and its strengths and limitations.  



officepicture_KASIA.jpgKasia Ignatowska is a Health Promotion Coordinator for the P.E.A.C.E. Project.  Her collaboration with peer mentors, participants and community partners was at the heart of creation and implementation of each community-based group. Centring autonomy, lived experiences, stages of recovery and traditional education enabled harmonizing group dynamics while practicing a culture of growing from. Prior to her role at Covenant House Toronto, Kasia's Youth Work experience includes, Residential, Outreach, Child & Youth Psychiatry, Informal Diversion, VAW shelter. Kasia holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia University, Child and Youth Worker Diploma from Humber College and a Bachelor of Social Work from York University.


 Dr. Ali Bani-Fatemi, MSc, PhD

ali_resized.jpgDr. Bani-Fatemi is a postdoctoral fellow at CAMH. He is experienced in molecular psychiatry and spent a significant amount of time on suicide studies in schizophrenia. During his graduate and post-graduate career, he has developed expertise in genetics (GWAS, Next Generation Sequencing, microarray analyses, candidate gene studies, and CNV analysis) and epigenetics as well as in statistics and computer science.