OUR PEOPLE

It takes a group of people who really care.

While Canada remains one of the world’s most prosperous nations, almost 63,000 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.

Valerie McMurtry - President and CEO

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Valerie McMurtry
President and CEO

Dan Barclay

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Daniel Barclay
Chair, Board of Directors

Valerie McMurtry, CFRE – President and CEO
Peggy Hornell, PMP – Chief Operating Officer
Diana Parsons – Chief Development Officer
Nadia Formigoni – Vice President, Communications, Brand and Marketing
Enza DiBenedetto – Senior Director, Finance & Administration

Dan Barclay

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Daniel Barclay
Chair
CEO, BMO Capital Markets

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Gordon Raman
Past-Chair, Secretary
Partner, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Lynn Belzberg

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Lynn Belzberg
Corporate Director
Social Worker

Bill Butt

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Bill Butt
Campaign Co-Chair
Corporate Director

Kris Depencier

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Kristina Depencier
Regional President, Greater Toronto Region, Royal Bank of Canada

Christian Exshaw

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Christian Exshaw
Managing Director & Head, Capital Markets Trading, CIBC World Markets

Pierre-Frappier

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Pierre Frappier
President and COO,
AMJ Campbell Inc.

John Gossling

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John Gossling
Treasurer
Executive Vice President & CFO,
Corus Entertainment

Pruyn Haskins

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Pruyn Haskins
Managing Director, Co-Head of Global Equity and Advisory, Scotia Bank

Barry Hildred - Past Chair, Board of Directors

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Barry Hildred
Principal
Level 2 Advisors Inc.

Dougal Macdonald

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Dougal Macdonald
Campaign Co-Chair
President & Managing Director,
Morgan Stanley Canada Ltd.

Sandra Roberts

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Sandra Roberts, CRMA
Corporate Director

Sean St. John

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Sean St. John
EVP, Managing Director and Co-Head of Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities Group
National Bank

Nicole-Stewart-Kamanga

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Nicole Stewart Kamanga
Family Law and Mediation

Jeremy Walker

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Jeremy Walker
Deputy Chair – Global Head, Communications, Media and Technology, Investment Banking – TD Securities

Jaime Watt

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Jaime Watt
Executive Chairman of Navigator

Andrea Weissman-Daniels

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Andrea Weissman-Daniels
Co-Founder IGNITE THE SPARK FUND

Aaron Zifkin

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Aaron Zifkin
Corporate Director

CAMPAIGN CABINET

Bill Butt, Co-Chair
Laura Dottori-Attanasio, Co-Chair
Dougal Macdonald, Co-Chair

Daniel Barclay
Eric Bélanger
Jeff Bowman
Michel Fortier
Pierre Frappier
John Gossling
Rahim Hirji
Shael Kalef
Nicolas Marcoux
Adam Sinclair
Jeremy M.C. Walker
Aaron Zifkin

CAMPAIGN ADVISORY COUNCIL

Richard D. Falconer
Sheila Murray
Stephen Sandler
Damien Steel
Jaime Watt

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.

Andrea Barker

Andrea Barker YPACAndrea is a second-year medical student at the University of Toronto, where she is also a member of the UofT Varsity Blues cross country and track & field teams and works as a tutor. She admires the work that Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada does across Canada and is honoured to be a part of the Young People’s Advisory Council, helping to facilitate access to opportunities that youth in care may not otherwise have. Being an advocate is a privileged position, as is training to be a physician – both opportunities which offer her the chance to learn from her peers, those she supports, and from others who understand how best to navigate our communities in order to effect meaningful change. And no, she don’t know what kind of doctor she wants to be yet—she just wants to be awesome.

Suzie Brooks

Suzie Brooks YPACSuzie believes that youth advocacy is incredibly important to benefit the lives of youth in and formerly in care. Over the past four years Suzie has been an active youth ambassador with Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada on various occasions including being a media ambassador for the TELUS Mobility for Good program. She entered care at the age of fourteen following abuse and neglect in her household. Suzie is a graduate of Ryerson University and is currently pursuing Digital Marketing Communications at St. Lawrence College. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, relaxing outdoors, and spending time with family. She is excited to get more involved with youth advocacy and hopes to help those who need emotional and financial help succeed in their transition out of care.

Jay Bruneau

Jay Bruneau YPACBio to come

Rasnat Chowdhury

Rasnat is a Master of Social Work student in the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work program at the University of Toronto. She currently holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts Psychology degree and Honours Social Service Worker diploma. Additionally, Rasnat currently works as a Research Assistant at the Youth Wellness Lab, housed at the University of Toronto, and as a Residential Care Worker, supporting children and youth involved with the child welfare system. She has also recently begun her student practicum with Peel Children’s Aid and looks forward to all of the learning opportunities that they have to offer. Rasnat’s educational pursuit and career choice stem from her own experiences in care since the age of 9.

After witnessing intimate partner violence that led to the death of her mother and the incarceration of her father, she remained in care until it was time to age out at 18. During her time in care, despite experiencing some challenges (i.e., stigma, mental health and substance use), there were many joys as well (I.e., attending summer camp, participating in classes like tae kwon do and dance, visiting family overseas) that shaped who she is today.

During Rasnat’s free time, she enjoys spending time with her new puppy, going for hikes, watching Netflix, and trying new recipes. Rasnat hopes to pursue her Ph.D. one day, start a family and travel the world.

Her lived experience, time on youth committees, and current experiences of working in foster and group homes motivate her to advocate for changes within the child welfare system. Ultimately, Rasnat is committed to ensuring that youth exiting the system not only survive, but thrive.

Tawnya Foster

Tawnya Foster (She/Her), 23, is a former Crown Ward with the Durham Children’s Aid Society (DCAS). She was in care from the age of 4 years (2001) and fully aged out at 21 years old (2019).  During her time in care, she was on the Youth Advisory Council for Durham Children’s Aid Society (DCAS) and was a Youth Ambassador for Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada (CAFC). Tawnya holds a Bachelor of Business in Human Resources Management and is currently employed full-time at Amazon as a Sr. Human Resources Assistant. She was fortunate to receive educational support from CAFC and DCAS through scholarship programs which she credits to her academic achievements which include a Presidents Honour Roll award in 2018 and completing her degree in 2019 with a First-Class Honours Distinction. Tawnya is passionate about education and breaking barriers for current youth in care so that they can reach their full potential. Tawnya is very grateful for the opportunity to be on YPAC and hopes that she can support CAFC in being able to continue to provide resources to current and former youth in care so that they can attend school and have a successful career.

Jesse Gardner

Bio to come

Ellen He

Ellen He YPACEllen is currently a Copywriter for a beloved apparel brand. Her child welfare experience began at the age of 4. Then at each stage of early adulthood, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada became a critical and inspiring support—from post-secondary studies, to work experience after school, to a pandemic. Grateful for the programs YPAC informed the Foundation to implement while she was growing up, Ellen hopes to do the same as a YPAC member now.

With her lived experience, Ellen is an advocate for what can help the next generations in child welfare reach their full potential and find their own definitions of success. What can help them not only survive, but thrive. And what can help them feel de-stigmatized from being in and from child welfare in the first place. Because themes of identity, dreams, ambitions, and relationships are made all the more complex having grown up in child welfare.

Ellen’s other endeavours include singing-songwriting, and hopefully acting in the future. Art has been a huge avenue for healing and navigating her journey in life. She hopes that by releasing her own art, it can be a place for others to find solace, reassurance, and in a way, encouragement to pursue their full and true selves.

Sarah Kothlow

Sarah Kothlow is passionate about empowering young people in and from care to have their voices heard. She is currently AgedOut.com’s Youth Programs Coordinator and in the past, she has been a part of Vancouver Foundation’s Youth Action Council and involved with the Fostering Change Campaign. Sarah grew up and aged out of care in British Columbia. Sarah is looking forward to using her personal and professional experiences to advocate for the needs of young people in care and influence positive change across Canada. 

 

Sarah joined YPAC because she is passionate about bringing attention to the issues that young people in care often face, she is also looking forward to learning from other YPAC members about the supports that are available for youth in care in provinces outside of British Columbia. 


In her spare time, Sarah enjoys playing sports, such as hockey and softball and also likes hiking. In the future, Sarah wants to continue her career working with youth focused organizations and continue to be involved in youth in care initiatives.

Kiaunna Lesage

Bio to come

Conner Lowes

Connor Lowes YPACConner Lowes is a 20 year old student at the University of Toronto (StG) going into the third year of his undergraduate degree, pursuing a Specialist in Philosophy; a Major in Ethics, Society, and Law; and a Minor in Bioethics. He hopes to graduate in 2022 and attend law school afterwards.

In addition to his studies and his Committee position at the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, he volunteers as the President & Ontario Director of Youth in Care Canada; a Board Advisor at the Child Welfare Political Action Committee; and a ​Youth Advisor at the United Nations.

Conner has a strong passion for the law, and in developing new strategies, policies, and legislation to help prepare youth who are close to or have already aged out of care and breaking down the barriers which prevent youth in and from care from attending post secondary and achieving their dreams. Currently, he is working alongside Irwin Elman and YPAC co-founder Cheyanne Ratnam to partner with the MCCSS to eliminate age based resources in the child welfare system and replace them with Readiness Based Indicators.

Conner Lowes became a member of YPAC because he “sees firsthand the meaningful impact that Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada makes in the lives of young people in and from care, and [he] want[s] to help in any way that [he] can”. With a background in fundraising both individually, such as for the Canadian Cancer Society, and through organizations, such as the Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa, Conner is very excited to join the Young People’s Advisory Council and use his position to help contribute to the Foundation’s far-reaching impact.

Vivian Patruno

Vivian Patruno YPACVivian Patruno is a graduate from the Radio, Film Television and Digital Media Program at Centennial College in 2020. Vivian’s full-time job is an associate at RBC’s graduate program, Career Launch. She produces and edits for a number of non-profits including Rising Youth podcast with Taking It Global, Project outsiders for previous foster youth and the Adoption Council of Ontario’s Never Too Late program. Vivian’s ultimate goal is to incite reflective media stories from the child welfare system about mental health, socio-class and child safety.

Rachael Richards

Bio to come

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.

2020-2021

Christopher Ababko
Mercy Achan
Andrea Barker
Marko Berrak-Tinaz
Jesse Gardner
The Hoang
Liana Langley
Taneisha Lawrence
Kiaunna Lesage
Conner Lowes
Chantal VanLeeuwen

2019-2020

Christopher Ababko
Mercy Achan
Marko Berrak-Tinaz
Jay Bruneau
The Hoang
Sarah Innes
Liana Langley
Joshua Law
Samidha Singhal
Chantal VanLeeuwen
Yessinia Vasquez

2018-2019

Troy Elleston
Sarah Innes
Joshua Law
Taneisha Lawrence
Erine Roberts
Breanna Ryan
Eli Shour
Reshma Shiwcharran
Samidha Singhal
Yessinia Vasquez

2017-2018

Tolumade Atkinson
Alisha Brooks
Troy Elleston
Brittany Herbold
Anna Amy Ho
Christina Li
Breanna Ryan
Samidha Singhal
Eli Shour
Reshma Shiwcharran
Riley Spence

2016-2017

Tolumade Atkinson
Alisha Brooks
Crystal Groves
Brittany Herbold
Anna Amy Ho
Christina Li
Shyanne Nichols
Shameer Rahman
Melissa Sayers
Riley Spence
Jemal Thompson

2015-2016

Michele Farrugia
Jemmy Felix
Kristy Graves
Crystal Groves
Wendy Hayes
Shyanne Nichols
Shameer Rahman
Maya Ramchandani
Cheyanne Ratnam
Melissa Sayers
Jemal Thompson

2014-2015

Michele Farrugia
Jemmy Felix
Kristy Graves
Wendy Hayes
Tamia Kerem
Shameer Rahman
Maya Ramchandani
Cheyanne Ratnam
David Rutherford
Jemal Thompson

2013-2014 (Founding Members)

Michele Farrugia
Jemmy Felix
Kristy Graves
Wendy Hayes
Tamia Kerem
Noah Negash
Nana Quainoo
Cheyanne Ratnam
David Rutherford
Yuan Barnes

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