OUR PEOPLE

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 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

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Gordon Raman
Chair, Board of Directors

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Gordon Raman
Chair
Partner, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Barry Hildred - Past Chair, Board of Directors

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Barry Hildred
Past-Chair
CEO, Aquila Resources

Dan Barclay

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Daniel Barclay
CEO, BMO Capital Markets

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

Christian Exshaw

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Christian Exshaw
Managing Director and Head, Global Markets, Capital Markets, CIBC

Lynn Factor - Past Chair

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Lynn Factor, C.M., O.Ont, MSW, RWS, L.LD
Child Witness Advocate, Boost Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention

Brian Gluckstien

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Brian Gluckstein
Principal Interior Designer,
Gluckstein Design

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, The Bank of Nova Scotia

Dougal Macdonald

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

Shannon McGinnis

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Shannon McGinnis
Senior Vice President, Retail Risk Management, TD Bank Group

Jenny Poulos

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Jenny Poulos
Secretary
Senior Vice President Human Resources Personal and Global Recruitment
RBC Royal Bank of Canada

Sandra Roberts

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Sandra Roberts, CRMA
Corporate Director

Sean St. John

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Sean St. John
EVP, Managing Director, Head of Fixed Income and Head of Debt & Equity
Capital Markets National Bank Financial

Andrea Weissman-Daniels

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Andrea Weissman-Daniels
Co-Founder IGNITE THE SPARK FUND

Aaron Zifkin

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Aaron Zifkin
Managing Director, Lyft Canada

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

Daniel Barclay
Eric Bélanger
Ted Boyd
Scott Burrows
Joseph C. Canavan
Mark Daniels
Andrew W. Dunn, FCA
Christian Exshaw
Lynn Factor
Richard D. Falconer
Michel Fortier
Brian Gluckstein
Jason Henderson
Barry Hildred
James Johnson
Peter Rawlins
Stephen L. Sandler
John Sherrington
Donna E. Toth
Andrea Weissman-Daniels

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.

Christopher Ababko

Bio to come

Mercy Achan

MercyMercy leads an exciting life filled with obstacles, opportunities, fears, successes, doubts and hopes. Currently, she attends McMaster University where she is specializing in Radiography for her Bachelor’s degree in Medical Radiation Sciences.

Mercy is a sister to three brothers. She came into care upon the incarceration of her father and death of her mother; consequently, Mercy has avid aspirations of recreating a place to call home for her siblings. The firsthand experience of living in foster care inspired Mercy to be an advocate for youth involved with the in the child welfare system. She strongly supports platforms focused on women empowerment and education for children, as it was education and school that provided a haven during life’s most difficult times.

In care, Mercy received supports that allowed her to attend camps that developed her character, and which allowed her to feel ‘normal- under her circumstances. She went to sports camp, had tutors, took dance lessons, and developed interpersonal skills that later allowed her to have a part-time job in high school. Mercy’s love for languages and travelling stems from her year-long experience representing the rotary club of her district, as an exchange student in France. Since then, she has travelled to over 13 countries and is working on learning her third language.

Mercy has spoken on multiple platforms as an Ambassador for Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada and continues to do her part to raise awareness for supporting youth in care. She believes that given the opportunity with the right supports, every child is able to achieve their own unstoppable success, regardless of their past.

Marko Berrak-Tinaz

Marko - Young People's Advisory Council

Marko is a third year Undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, currently completing an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Environmental and Indigenous Studies with a minor in Human Geography. Marko hopes to further his educational career by pursuing a Masters Degree in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia.

Aside from work, school, and volunteering, Marko is an advocate for children living in Canada’s child welfare system. His passions lie in the well-being of children, environmental sustainability, and Indigenous relations. Marko aspires to explore the capacity in which access and changes to education can help children in and out of care reach their full potential.

Born in Germany, Marko came to Canada as a refugee from Albania. Following the birth of his two younger brothers in Toronto, all three children were taken into care. Marko entered care at the age of 6 and moved between 5 different foster homes. Marko was then adopted with his two younger brothers at the age of 10.

Thanks to the support of his family, friends and the Foundation he was able to persevere despite these challenges and attend university. University presented opportunities that Marko never considered before. Exposure to Indigenous studies encouraged Marko to confront his past in a way that was healing, eye-opening, and constructive. This gave him the confidence to take a new outlook on his past and work towards being a strong voice for other children in and from care.

Marko strives to use his position on YPAC to empower others, pay it forward, and most importantly, stand up for kids.

Jay Bruneau

Bio to come

The Hoang

The HoangThe is in his second year of his undergraduate program as a Social Work student at Ryerson University. He previously graduated from George Brown College with a Social Service Worker diploma with Honours and hopes to work towards a Master’s of Social Work degree.

The was born and raised in the area of Jane and Finch which he considers a strong and resilient community. He was 12 years old when he first entered a foster home close by to where he grew up. There he would meet his foster mom who he considers a second mother to him. Today, he considers it a privilege to be able to stay in the community that he grew up in and still keeps in touch with his foster mom on a weekly basis.

The owes a lot of his growth and self-discovery to the summer camp he has been attending for many years. He was able to transition from participant to staff at the same summer camp and in the 2018 season was promoted to the position of Volunteer Program Director where he ran a program for high school students who were looking to complete their volunteer hours, while having fun of course. He looks forward to next summer which will be his fifth year on staff. His favorite things in the world are colors, candy and stars.

Sarah Innes

Sarah Innes

Sarah is completing her Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree at the University of Toronto, and also plans to further her education with a Ph.D. in the future. Sarah is looking forward to entering a field that will allow her to work with vulnerable populations and to help the community at large. Supported by her educational background in Psychology, Sarah is passionate about reducing barriers for vulnerable youth populations to receive anti-oppressive, trauma-informed mental health supports. Through her passion for youth advocacy, Sarah joined CAFC’s Young People’s Advisory Council (YPAC) to be a strong voice and advocate for the rights of youth in the child welfare system. She is also a member of the Youth for Change Steering Committee at the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS), where she advocates for improvements to child welfare policies that will best suit the needs of youth in care. 

Outside of her studies and advocacy work in child welfare, Sarah is passionate about helping others through various volunteer work and involvement within the community. She remains actively involved in her community with experience ranging from animal care at the Humane Society, to fundraising initiatives for local charities and community organizations, and volunteering at youth shelters to serve warm meals. Her commitment and desire to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable populations only continues to strengthen over the years. Sarah’s role as an advocate and member of YPAC is a step towards fulfilling her passion and preparing her for a career in the clinical social work field. 

Liana Langley

Bio to come

Joshua Law

Biography to come

Samidha Singhal

Samidha-web

Samidha is a member of Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada’s Young People’s Advisory Council (YPAC) as well as a student, advocate and athlete studying at McMaster University for an Honors Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, with a minor in commerce. In addition to advocating for changes to the foster care system, Samidha is passionate about environmental and economic sustainability, and aspires to contribute to education system in under-developed countries.

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 unfortunately after two years of constant instability and poverty she entered foster care. Within the first two years of being in care, she moved between seven different foster homes and had to attend three different high schools.

Despite these challenges, Samidha 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”. Throughout high school she always worked part-time while participating in various clubs including becoming the Captain of the girls’ field hockey team and a member of the student council. Throughout University she has continued to participate in clubs, the DeGroote business student council as well as various volunteer programs within the Hamilton community. Throughout this time, she has received tremendous support from the foundation through bursary and scholarships, employment programs and advocacy opportunities.

Samidha has made the choice to persevere and advocate for current and former children and youth in care and has joined YPAC and acted as an Ambassador 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.

Chantal VanLeeuwen

Biography to come

Yessinia Vasquez

Biography 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.

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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