2015 Best Start Resource Centre Annual Conference

Overview | February 25 (Pre-Conference) | February 26-27 (Main Conference) | Speaker Biographies

Pre-Conference Presenters

Debbie Aylward, RN, BScN, MScN
Perinatal Consultant, Champlain Maternal Newborn Regional Program

Debbie has dedicated her career to the care of at-risk newborns and their families. When asked to lead an initiative about violence in pregnancy, Debbie became an advocate and has developed resources and facilitated educational offerings for healthcare providers in order to raise awareness about woman abuse - a significant health issue.

Dr. Stéphane Beaulne
Consultant/Chercheur, Troubles du spectre autistique et Problèmes d’autorégulation

Dr. Stéphane Beaulne est consultant/chercheur dans les troubles du spectre autistique et les problèmes d’autorégulation chez les jeunes enfants. Son intervention clinique et sa recherche sont centrées sur le rôle de l’autorégulation dans le développement de l’enfant. Expert en psychopédagogie, Dr. Beaulne s’intéresse particulièrement à l’élaboration de programmes, de méthodologies et de stratégies qui soutiennent les enfants, adolescents et jeunes adultes présentant des problèmes de comportements liés à l’autorégulation.

Carl Brisson
BScSoc, Valoris Prescott-Russell

Carl détiens un baccalauréat en sciences sociales, concentration criminologie et communication, ainsi qu’un diplôme de la Cité collégiale en services policiers. Carl travaille depuis plusieurs années au sein de Valoris de Prescott-Russell dans le but de soutenir les enfants, les jeunes et les adultes défavorisés et vulnérables des comtés unis de Prescott et Russell. En plus, Carl est un employé à temps partiel pour l'équipe d'intervention de crise des Bureaux des Services à la Jeunesse de Prescott-Russell. Carl a alors acquis maintes expériences d’interventions auprès des jeunes, leurs familles ainsi qu’avec les familles d'accueil. Ses interventions sont aussi bien au niveau individuel qu'en groupes. Il se spécialise particulièrement en intervention de crise et auprès des pères. Il excelle également au niveau d’intervention de groupes où il anime régulièrement des groupes pour parents, Pratiques Parentales Positives (Triple P), en intervention dans un contexte de violence conjugale ainsi qu'en résolution de crise. Carl est un intervenant dynamique qui aime le travail sur le terrain et qui se pose 1001 questions sur comment favoriser la résilience chez les enfants.

Marie Brisson
Bilingual Health Promotion Consultant, Best Start Resource Centre

Marie has extensive experience in training development and delivery, and facilitation to respond to the needs of individuals, families or communities. She worked in numerous public health programs as well as in the private sector. Marie has a degree in Nursing and diplomas in adult education and workplace health and safety.

Janet Fox
Mahkesis Consulting

Janet Fox is from the Onion Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.  She has been a life skills coach for 14 years and now has her own consulting business. Janet is a mother of 4 and a grandmother of 8. She provides workshops across Canada and also offers 4 trainings per year on Traditional Family Parenting.

She was awarded a Master Facilitator from the Virtues Project™ for her work involving the Teepee Teachings concept. Janet Fox is also the recipient of the 2010 Saskatchewan First Nations Awards in Education. She recently participated in a 12 week curriculum parenting program called “Fatherhood is Sacred” that encourages fathers to take the lead role in keeping families together.

Dr. Susan Jack, RN, PhD
School of Nursing, McMaster University

Dr. Susan Jack is an Associate Professor, School of Nursing, McMaster University. She has held both public health nursing front-line and managerial positions. As a nurse-researcher, her focus is on developing and evaluating community-based strategies for the prevention of family violence. She is also one of the Canadian leads responsible for evaluating the Nurse-Family Partnership home visitation program. In the United States, she developed a nursing intervention for the NFP program, to identify and respond to intimate partner violence in the context of home visiting.

Dr. Chaya Kulkarni, BAA, M.Ed. Ed.D
Director, Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP), The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

Dr. Chaya Kulkarni is Director of Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP), a professional coalition dedicated to promoting optimal mental health outcomes for infants, based out of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.  Prior to joining IMHP, Chaya was VP, Parent and Professional Education at Invest in Kids, and has also served as Senior Policy Analyst and Researcher for the Office of the Official Opposition, Queen’s Park. Chaya is also a Professor at Seneca in the Bachelor of Child Development degree program.

Janet Nevala
Nevala Consulting

Janet Nevala has 25 years’ experience in public health at all levels of government including international missions. Her public health nursing career in Ottawa led to secondments with Health Canada in reproductive health and to coordinating a provincial tobacco resource centre for 12 years. Janet owns a health consultancy business.

Keynote Speakers

Margo Greenwood
Academic Leader, National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health

Dr. Margo Greenwood, Academic Leader of the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, is an Indigenous scholar of Cree ancestry with years of experience focused on the health and well-being of Indigenous children, families and communities.  She also holds a Professor appointment in both the First Nations Studies and Education programs at the University of Northern British Columbia.  While her academic work crosses disciplines and sectors, she is particularly recognized regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally for her work in early childhood care and education of Indigenous children and public health. Margo has served on numerous national and provincial federations, committees and assemblies, and has undertaken work with UNICEF, the United Nations, and the Canadian Reference Group to the World Health Organization Commission on Social Determinants. Margo received the Queen's Jubilee medal in 2002 in recognition of her years of work to promote awareness and policy action on the rights and well-being of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children, youth and families.  In 2009, Margo received the Perry Shawana Child Care Award from the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society in recognition for her leadership and commitment to creating “quality” child care and early learning services for First Nations/Aboriginal children in British Columbia. Margo was also recognized in 2010 as the Academic of the Year by the Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ of B.C. for her research contributions to the wider community.  Most recently she was honoured with the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Education in 2011.

Brian Jack, MD
Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine

Brian Jack, MD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Jack received the 2008 CDC "Partner in Public Health Improvement” award for his work as leader of the CDC’s Select Panel on the Content of Preconception Care. He received the 2013 Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Innovation and was selected to HealthLeaders magazines annual "People Who Make Healthcare Better" list. His article is listed in the book "50 Studies Every Physician Should Know.” In 2013 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science. 

Zeenat Janmohamed
Visiting Scholar, Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development, University of Toronto

Zeenat Janmohamed is a Visiting Scholar at the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development at the University of Toronto. She is a faculty member at the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College. Her research explores the impact of blended early learning programs on children's development, family engagement and educational policy. Her most recent study explores the impact of full day kindergarten and extended day programs on educators, families and school administration. Her other area of expertise examines the implementation of ideas related to diversity, equity and difference. Her research aims to bring a focus on the limitations of a term that is regularly espoused in training, policy and practice challenging educators and researchers to think more broadly and critically about how children and families are categorized in early learning. Zeenat completed her PhD in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE, University of Toronto.

Concurrent Session Speakers

Gillian Alton
Locally Driven Collaborative Projects Healthy Pregnancies Team, Oxford County Public Health

Dr. Gillian Alton is an epidemiologist with Oxford County Public Health and is the lead of the Locally Driven Collaborative Project (LDCP) for Healthy Pregnancies. Gillian has an MSc in epidemiology from the University of Guelph and recently completed her PhD in epidemiology in June 2014.

Marie Brisson
Bilingual Health Promotion Consultant, Best Start Resource Centre

Marie has extensive experience in training development and delivery, and facilitation to respond to the needs of individuals, families or communities. She worked in numerous public health programs as well as in the private sector. Marie has a degree in Nursing and diplomas in adult education and workplace health and safety.

Michelle Buckner
Breastfeeding Buddies Project Coordinator, Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre

Michelle Buckner is the mother of 3 breastfed children; 14, 11 and 7 and holds a degree in Social Work.  Michelle has been supporting women and families in the Waterloo region for 20 years in varying capacities with Family and Children’s Services, Extend a Family, House of Friendship, and recently as the coordinator of the Breastfeeding Buddies program of Waterloo Region. Michelle has been a La Leche League Leader for 10 years and strongly believes in peer breastfeeding support for all women. In 2001, Michelle helped start and develop the current Breastfeeding Buddies program  and  is passionate about positive parenting, promoting and protecting breastfeeding as a normal part of mothering and creating a healthy, vibrant community to raise children in.

Louise Choquette
Bilingual Health Promotion Consultant, Best Start Resource Centre

Louise has been with the Best Start Resource Centre since 2005, where she has led initiatives such as reaching Francophones, reproductive and child health of newcomers, physical activity, prenatal education and tobacco control. Her formal education is in Communications and Educational Technology. Louise has two adult children.

Carol Couchie, BHSc, RM

Carol Couchie is an Aboriginal midwife who is a member of  Nipissing First Nation near North Bay, Ontario. She started her health science education at the University of Toronto in a special program that helped train future Aboriginal health professionals in Aboriginal traditional and cultural health and healing practices. She continued her education in the first class of students enrolled at the Ryerson Midwifery Education program and was one of the first two Aboriginal woman to graduate from a university midwifery program and become a registered midwife in Canada. Ms Couchie's career has largely been working with and for Aboriginal women and she has focused on rural and remote midwifery. She now works close to her community in North Bay and is a proud mother and grandmother of two daughters and four grandchildren.

Hiltrud Dawson
Health Promotion Consultant/Breastfeeding Project Lead, Best Start Resource Centre

Hiltrud has extensive experience in the maternal newborn field as a nurse, midwife, and lactation consultant. She had been a health promotion consultant with the Best Start Resource Centre/Health Nexus for over 9 years and is currently leading the breastfeeding project work. Before joining the team at the Best Start Resource Centre, Hiltrud worked in the postpartum and neonatal units and the breastfeeding clinic at St. Joseph's Healthcare. During that time, she pulled together a multidisciplinary team that implemented the Baby-Friendly Initiative. St Joseph's Healthcare became Ontario's first Baby-Friendly Hospital. Hiltrud’s portfolio reaches from preconception and reproductive health to postpartum and child health and development. She is also an active member of several associations and networks and has been the membership secretary for BFI Ontario for a number of years.

Mary Jane Gordon, BNSc
Public Health Nurse, Reproductive and Child Health, KFL&A Public Health

Mary Jane Gordon is a public health nurse with the reproductive and child health team at KFL&A Public Health and the physical activity lead for the Family Health Division. As an advocate for physical activity promotion in the early years, Mary Jane has been involved in local, provincial and national projects including participating in the development of the Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years, a member of the Canadian Sport for Life Kingston project leadership team and coordinating a partnership in the development of a physical activity policy document for childcare centres in KFL&A. She looks forward to sharing knowledge and experiences and facilitating discussion to assist others in this very important area of child health.

Mary Lynn Houston-Leask, RPN
Aboriginal Prenatal Nutrition Program Coordinator, M'Wikwedong Native Cultrual Resource Centre

Mary Lynn Houston-Leask is a Registered Practical Nurse, Doula and La Leche League Leader accredited in 1992 and still active in the LLLC Owen Sound group. Since 2001, Mary Lynn has coordinated the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program at M'Wikwedong Native Cultural Resource Centre based in Owen Sound Ontario. The centre provides services to First Nations, Métis and Inuit families within Grey and Bruce counties. In 2014, she was thrilled to augment breastfeeding peer supports in her area through the formation of Community Breastfeeding Peer Support Circles created through funding from Best Start. Mary Lynn birthed and breastfed four Ojibway-Irish children and obtained two bonus children through her second marriage. She lives on a 150 acre Heritage family farm near Walkerton Ontario where she market gardens organically, raises free range eggs and chases 14 horses with her husband.

Brian Jack, MD
Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine

Brian Jack, MD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Jack received the 2008 CDC "Partner in Public Health Improvement” award for his work as leader of the CDC’s Select Panel on the Content of Preconception Care. He received the 2013 Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Innovation and was selected to HealthLeaders magazines annual "People Who Make Healthcare Better" list. His article is listed in the book "50 Studies Every Physician Should Know.” In 2013 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science. 

Chantal L. Lalonde, MHS
Health Educator/Promoter, Eastern Ontario Health Unit

Chantal is a physical activity promoter in public health with the EOHU.  She is a passionate advocate of physical activity having worked with numerous partners from across the country to develop innovative solutions to address physical inactivity.  Recently, Chantal has been working hard to raise the profile of physical literacy and has led the development of key messages and an advocacy campaign to ensure education and childcare environments are supportive of physical literacy.

Paula D. Morrison, RN, BScN, MS, PNC(C)
Public Health Coordinator, Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN)

As a Registered Nurse with extensive experience in both community and hospital settings, Paula is very knowledgeable of maternal/child health. Her master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology lends to her expertise in training and change strategies. Paula’s current work as a Public Health Coordinator at BORN Ontario focuses on maternal/child health outcomes.

Janet Nevala
Nevala Consulting

Janet Nevala has 25 years’ experience in public health at all levels of government including international missions. Her public health nursing career in Ottawa led to secondments with Health Canada in reproductive health and to coordinating a provincial tobacco resource centre for 12 years. Janet owns a health consultancy business.

Kristina Niedra, MA
Project Manager, BFI Strategy for Ontario and City of Toronto MCIT Program

Kristina Niedra has an MA in Public Policy and Administration from Ryerson University. She has worked at Toronto East General Hospital for the past five years in various roles, most recently as the Project Manager for the BFI Strategy for Ontario.

Teresa Pitman
Writer, La Leche League Canada

Teresa Pitman has been a La Leche League Leader for more than 35 years and was Executive Director of La Leche League Canada for three years. Teresa has a B.Sc in Chemistry and a diploma in Magazine Journalism. She has written thousands of articles, many on breastfeeding and parenting topics, and is the author or co-author of 18 published books including: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition); Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding (now in its 3rd edition); The Latch and Other Keys to Breastfeeding Success; and Preparing to Breastfeed: A Pregnant Woman's Guide. She is the mother of four children, all breastfed and the grandmother of six, also all breastfed.

Nancy Poole
Director, BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health

Prevention Lead, CanFASD Research Network

Nancy is the Director of the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and the Prevention Lead for the CanFASD Research Network. Nancy is known for her collaborative work towards improving policy and service provision related to girls and women’s substance use and overall health, with governments and organizations in Canada, and internationally.

Matthuschka Sheedy, RN, BNSc, ICCE
Health Promotion Consultant - Prenatal Education, Best Start Resource Centre

Matthuschka Sheedy is an RN and ICEA certified childbirth educator who joined Best Start in February 2014 as a Health Promotion Consultant focusing on Prenatal Education. She has extensive experience in the maternal infant health field as a Labour and Delivery Nurse, childbirth educator and Coordinator of the Prenatal Education Program at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. She is passionate about providing expectant families with the most current, evidence based information available to ensure they are able to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy, birth and beyond.

Robyn Stremler, RN, PhD
University of Toronto

Robyn Stremler, RN, PhD is Associate Professor at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto and Adjunct Scientist at SickKids.  Dr. Stremler holds a CIHR New Investigator Award and an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.

Rebeka Tabobondung
Editor-in-Chief, MUSKRAT Magazine

Rebeka is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of MUSKRAT Magazine, an on-line national Indigenous arts and culture magazine. Rebeka is a documentary filmmaker, poet and Indigenous knowledge and oral history researcher. Her documentary works have screened at festivals across Canada and internationally, while her written works have been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Rebeka is an M.A. graduate in Sociology & Equity Studies in Education and her latest research and film work documents traditional birth knowledge from Wasauksing First Nation where she is also a member. Rebeka is the Research Coordinator of the Indigenous Knowledge Network for Infant, Child, and Family Health at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Dr. Trish Tucker
Assistant Professor, Western University

Dr. Trish Tucker is an Assistant Professor at Western University. Through measurement and promotion, Dr. Tucker's research is dedicated to better understanding what impacts the physical activity levels of preschool-aged children and the environmental influences of physical activity in childcare settings.

Evelyn Vaccari, MHSc, RD
Nutrition Promotion Consultant, Toronto Public Health

Evelyn Vaccari, MHSc, RD is a Nutrition Promotion Consultant with Toronto Public Health (TPH), in the Maternal and Infant Health/ Healthy Families directorate. Evelyn is involved in supporting the implementation of TPH's Online Prenatal Program.

Jeanell Vanbesien, BScN, RN
Locally Driven Collaborative Projects Healthy Pregnancies Team, Halton Region Public Health

Jeanell Vanbesien BScN, RN is a Public Health Nurse with Halton Region Public Health Department and acted as a collaborator for the Locally Driven Collaborative Project (LDCP) for Healthy Pregnancies.

Linda Young, MScN, EdD
Director, Maternal Newborn Child Mental Health, Interprofessional Practice and Organizational Learning

Linda Young developed her knowledge and expertise with breastfeeding as a clinical nurse specialist at Women’s College where she focused on enhancing breastfeeding and family-centered care.  Linda has worked in Director roles across the GTA for over 20 years and has been the Director of Maternal Newborn Child, Mental Health, Interprofessional Practice and Organizational Learning at Toronto East General Hospital for the past five years, during which TEGH became re-designated as a Baby Friendly Hospital