It takes a group of people who really care.
Message from the President and CEO and Chair, Board of Directors
While Canada remains one of the world’s most prosperous nations, almost 67,000 of our children are living in foster or group homes as a result of the abuse, neglect, and insurmountable poverty. Several hundred thousand more are living with their families in unstable homes while under the watch of child protection services. Those who have become Crown wards often require significant assistance transitioning to independent living, as they’re financially and emotionally alone at just 18 or 19 years of age.
Many other complex issues exist for these young people. While our funding reached thousands of vulnerable kids across Canada this past year, there is still a huge gap to fill. The lingering effects of trauma are very real and can continue to negatively impact their lives; approximately 82% have been diagnosed with special needs that include physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioural, and social challenges. With little support from their families, the odds are stacked against them, and, sadly, many will drop out of high school, abuse substances, become involved with prostitution and gangs, end up pregnant at a young age, or become incarcerated or homeless.
Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada is dedicated to funding enriching, educational, preventative, and healing and recovery programs that encourage these kids to build their self-esteem and realize their full potential. With our $60-million National Campaign for Child Welfare, the Foundation is dedicated to expanding its reach and providing increased resources in the areas of health and well-being, education, crisis and permanence, identity, inclusion, and equity, and support while leaving care.
Truly, we would not be in the position we are today without those who believe in and support our work. Together, we will continue to build a brighter future for our nation’s most vulnerable young people.
President and CEO
Chair, Board of Directors
Gordon G. Raman
Partner, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Lynn Factor, O.Ont, BAASS, MSW, LLD
Child Witness Advocate, Boost Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention
Andrew W. Dunn, FCPA
Founder & Managing Partner, Canadian Shield Capital
Managing Director and Head, Capital Markets and Trading, Wholesale Banking, CIBC
Charyl Galpin, FICB, ICD.D
Executive Vice President & Managing Director Head Private Client Division,
BMO Nesbitt Burns
Principal Interior Designer,
Managing Director, Co-Head of Global Equity and Advisory, The Bank of Nova Scotia
Executive Vice President Head of Global Banking and Markets,
HSBC Bank Canada
President & Managing Director-Investment Banking Division, Morgan Stanley Canada Ltd.
Senior Vice President, Retail Risk Management, TD Bank Group
Senior Vice President Human Resources Personal and Global Recruitment
RBC Royal Bank of Canada
Sandra Roberts, CRMA
PwC Canada, Risk Assurance Public Sector/Healthcare
Donna E. Toth
Co-Founder IGNITE THE SPARK FUND
Bill Butt, Co-Chair
Laura Dottori-Attanasio, Co-Chair
Dougal Macdonald, Co-Chair
Joseph C. Canavan
Andrew W. Dunn, FCA
Richard D. Falconer
Stephen L. Sandler
Donna E. Toth
Founded in 2013, the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada’s Young People’s Advisory Council (YPAC) shares their lived and professional expertise, wisdom and experiences to guide us on how to best serve Canada’s young people involved in child welfare and represents the Foundation in the community. We are grateful to all members throughout the years for lighting the way forward.
Tolu was born in London, England but was raised in Vancouver, Canada for most of his life. He recently moved to Toronto two years ago to change his environment and, in doing so, discovered his true passions: health and business. He enrolled in a college program studying anatomy and business for fitness and health, becoming the second person in his family to graduate from college. In 2016 Tolu attended the Children’s Aid Foundation’s five14 Talks in celebration of Ontario’s Children and Youth in Care Day where he met a YPAC member who highly recommended he apply to join the council.
High school was a difficult time for Tolu. He and his single mother, who tried her best, moved between homeless shelters. Due to increasing conflict at home, he was eventually taken away and thrown into foster care where he also faced bullying. He searched for every quick fix until he realized the pain was within him. During this difficult time, his foster parents encouraged him to express himself though fitness, enrolling in mix martial arts. He began to flourish like a flower from concrete. Living a healthy lifestyle became his outlet, his source of healing and happiness.
Tolu’s ultimate goal is to develop a company specializing in men’s health worldwide, from nutrition, skincare, fitness, fashion, giving personal advice and giving back to the community. Another bucket-list goal is to deliver a TED Talk, inspiring others with his journey to self-care and entrepreneurship.
Biography to come
Troy is in his 4th year of Biological Science studies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, completing majors in both biotechnology and microbiology, with a minor in contemporary studies! A child welfare advocate and ambassador, he is also a high-school math, chemistry, physics and biology tutor, which has afforded him the opportunity to build strong relationships with families in his community.
Troy’s journey to this point has been both incredible and, at some points, rough, having spent most of his life in care. He was born to a single mother who did all she could to provide him a healthy life—he was her only son and her closest family. But at nine, after she came down with severe depression, he was taken away from his mother and put into foster care. At the time, this was absolutely devastating.
But over the last decade, Troy has flourished in his new world. He became a son to two wonderful people by the names of Joycelyn and Ronald, now his parents, and at 10, a middle sibling to two other boys. In his first five years with his new family, he gained control over his mental health and enjoyed a fulfilling social life through various groups like his church and high school student council, where he developed an aptitude to lead and tackle responsibility. With time, he is proud to say his deep wounds have healed, largely because of these new relationships. He continues to strengthen those bonds, and make new ones, at school and in his community!
Troy found financial support through the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, accessing multiple scholarships and an Element Fleet Management Youth Capital internship. He chose to give back as a CAFC Youth Ambassador and Advisor, eventually joining YPAC, which presents a tremendous and unique opportunity to exercise his passion for “in-care” issues and our greater community. Troy is thrilled to work collectively with this dynamic group to help the Foundation address the needs of children and youth in and from care and advance the Foundation’s collective mission.
In addition to his drive to give back, Troy has always been very curious about the world around him—what makes the earth spin? Cars move? Our bodies age? What is aging?! This curiosity has fueled his studies in biochemistry and also creative pursuits like spoken word. Through performances at numerous events through organizations like his church and the Foundation, Troy has built a strong reputation.
In the future, Troy plans to pursue a career in Health Finance. After completing two internships in marketing and project management, he is excited about being able to combine these skills with his science background.
Biography to come
Immigrating to Canada at a young age, Anna’s childhood has been marked by change, instability and abuse. On the day of her grade eight graduation, she witnessed the murder of her mother and grandmother at the hands of her mother’s abusive common-law partner. Orphaned at 13, she moved between kinship homes before transitioning to independent living at age 16. Without family she could rely on and without stability, she turned to the arts. Dance and musical theatre became her safe haven and sense of identity.
Anna is now a Crisis Counsellor and Violence Prevention Program Coordinator, Aerialist, Motivational Speaker and advocate for youth touched by the child welfare system. In addition to being a YPAC member, she is a Board Executive for Ryerson Radio Inc. and an advisor to the CAS Investigations Unit with the Provincial Advocate’s Office. In 2015, along with graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Social Work degree, she received the Attorney General’s Victim Services Award of Distinction in recognition of her service to victims of crime and vulnerable youth.
Despite childhood trauma that completely altered her life, Anna’s resilience has resulted in determination that leads her to succeed in the face of adversity. One day, Anna hopes to use dance movement therapy in trauma treatment and create a therapeutic arts center where people can access arts-based forms of psychotherapy.
Christina came into care when she was eleven years old. A survivor of sexual abuse, she struggled to fit in and overcome her hardships. But 15 years later, she stands before you a strong and independent woman. Christina has chosen a career in nursing so that she can help and make a difference one life at a time.
Passionate about empowering youth to realize and reach their full potential, Christina believes anything can be achieved if you put your mind to it. Knowledge is power, and that power will allow you to achieve your goals and dreams. It’s so important for youth to pursue an education so they can get the jobs they want in life.
Christina is excited to be involved with YPAC to give back to the community and to help be part of the process of making change and taking action toward the issues that young people in the child welfare system face.
Erine is an advocate, ambassador, devoted auntie and Wilfrid Laurier University graduate, with a combined Honor’s Bachelors of Art Degree specializing in Youth and Children’s Studies and, Human Rights and Human Diversity Studies.
Born in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Erine immigrated to Canada at the age of seven. At the age of eight she was placed into the child welfare system. By age 11, she became a crown ward, and spent a total of 10 years in foster care, which ignited her passion to help create change within the child welfare system.
While at university she became the president of the Collective for Feminist Action and Research, an organization that worked with university faculty, local community partners and students, to advance women’s rights issues, and to aid in feminist research. She has been an ambassador for the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto for 10 years, speaking on behalf of children within the child welfare system in various forums. Erine has been involved with the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada for the past 6 years as a Youth Ambassador, and has recently joined the Young People’s Advisory Council to further her work as an advocate for children in care.
Erine has spoken at over 100 different platforms, and appeared in numerous media outlets, to raise awareness for the various challenges facing young people aging out of care, and hopes to continue to be an agent of change in Canada’s child welfare sector.
In the future Erine would love to work within the corporate sector to create programming and opportunities for vulnerable young people to bridge the gap between, child welfare, school, and work.
Breanna Ryan, 24, is a human resources professional, child welfare ambassador and advocate, and wellness enthusiast.
Breanna came into care at the age of 14. After years of struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, her mother committed suicide when she was six. Following this, Breanna went to live with her aunt where she suffered several more years of drug, alcohol and emotional abuse. She came into care looking for a loving “forever home,” but that is not what she would find.
Despite the difficulties of living in care, it was the best thing that happened to her because it gave her the opportunity to connect with resources like Foundation scholarships and internships, which supported her to pursue a university degree and transition to employment. Breanna is now Manager of the Digital Talent Strategy at Royal Bank of Canada and has enjoyed working at RBC for the past 1.5 years. She has a Certified Human Resources Professional designation and is looking forward to starting an MBA in September 2018.
Success for Breanna in the future would be feeling that she is contributing substantially to the success of the company she works for, as well as being a loving mum, finding balance in life, and making sure to be kind to others each and every day.
Child welfare is a passion for Breanna because she has experienced the positive effects that children and youth from care can have on society if they are provided the supports to fully realize their potential. Youth in and from care are often resilient, hardworking and outspoken. As we think about supporting children and youth from care, it’s important to consider the geography and diversity of the youth we serve so that we can reach as many youth as possible. She’s thrilled to be joining YPAC!!
Samidha is a member of the Children’s Aid Foundation’s Young People’s Advisory Council as well as a student, advocate and athlete studying at McMaster University for a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce, with a minor in sustainability. In addition to advocating for changes to the foster care system, she is passionate about environmental and economic sustainability, healthy active living and education in under-developed countries. She aspires to be an entrepreneur and use her degree to make our world a better place.
Born and raised in India, Samidha’s life changed forever when her mother passed away when she was only seven. She immigrated to Canada with her family at 12, but after such devastating loss and adjustment to a new country, her father suffered from depression which also caused her family to suffer financially, and he was unable to provide parental support and care. After two years of this continuous struggle, the CCAS of Hamilton stepped in and she entered foster care, where she moved between three high schools and four foster homes, all within a two year span. Keeping friends was always difficult, and she suffered from emotional abuse, neglect and depression.
Despite these challenges, she promised herself she would continue to keep moving forward, and strives to live life by her favorite quote from Harry Potter: “It is our choices that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Samidha has made the choice to persevere and advocate for current and former children and youth in foster care and has joined the Foundation’s youth council and ambassador teams to raise awareness, to ensure there’s adequate support, to pay it forward, and, most of all, to stand by those who feel that they are alone, because they are not.
Eli is a Wilfrid Laurier University Business Administration graduate and advocate for children and youth.
At 11, Eli was living a seemingly normal life when one day, without warning, he woke up to find his mother gone, leaving him and his brother in his uncle’s care. Due to his disability, his uncle felt unable to take care of the two boys and shortly thereafter they were taken into foster care.
Growing up in care, Eli struggled to fight off the sense of loss and abandonment from losing his family, yet he felt blessed to have had the foster family that raised him. His foster parents nurtured his love for reading and the importance of education. They instilled in him a sense of self-responsibility.
Eli believes that growing up in care, youth are sometimes forced to mature faster than usual. An innocence may be lost, but a strength may be gained. Eli is driven by the need for self-determination. He believes that life often places us in challenging circumstances without our consent, but if your “why” is strong enough, then what we do next is up to us.
Since graduation, like most young adults, Eli is looking for his path in life, craving meaning and relevance in an unpredictable world. He is comforted by the fact that what he does next is self-determined. He is currently focused on building a relationship with his birth family, reaching financial independence, and traveling in order to gain greater self-awareness.
Biography to come
Riley is in her 3rd year of an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Development Studies, with a specialization in Social Work at the University of Waterloo, and plans to complete the Masters of Social Work at Western University.
Riley was in and out of foster care from the age of seven until becoming a crown ward at 14 due to enduring physical and emotional abuse as well as severe neglect and abandonment prior to becoming a crown ward.
Horses and their therapeutic effects have been a huge and healing part of her life. Riley currently teaches horseback riding lessons and offers therapeutic horseback riding to clients on her foster family’s farm.
A recipient of the Dr. Steinhauer scholarship through the Children’s Aid Foundation, Riley has joined YPAC because she wants to use her experiences in care to help as many current and former youth in care that she can. Riley is committed to making a positive difference and does not want to wait until she’s in her career to do so.
Ultimately, Riley would like to work as an Equine Facilitated Psychotherapist for youth in care working with horses as a co-facilitator to the therapy and healing process, with a focus on attachment, self-compassion and the work of Dr. Brene Brown, Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Gordon Neufield.
Young People’s Advisory Council members serve 2-year terms, and during that time have a significant impact on our work at the Foundation and the child welfare sector. When terms end, every member’s contributions live on, and so our alumni remain Honorary YPAC Members.
Anna Amy Ho