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Meet the speakers at Perspectives from Coast to Coast: Roundtable with Researchers

Perspectives from Coast to Coast: Roundtable with Researchers is just 2 days away! With a conversation about insights on youth engagement is taking place on June 24, at 3–5 PM Eastern Time, we are bringing together academic research experts and youth researchers/practitioners to have a dialogue around research methods on youth engagement and what it may mean to put these theories into practice.

Register here.

We are excited to announce our 10 speakers below!

Academic Researchers

Wolfgang Vachon has been working with children and youth for close to three decades including those who are street involved, homeless, 2SLGBTQ+, survivors of trauma, and those living in detention as well as other forms of state care. Community-arts informs and shapes his practice which has led to developing dozens of plays, audio dramas, and other arts-based projects on issues related to mental health and illness,
torture, access to justice, sexual health, safer drug use, and queer rights, among others.

Heather Lawford is a Canada Research Chair in Youth Development and a professor at Bishop’s University and is the Co-Director of Research for the Centre for Excellence for Youth Engagement at the Students Commission of Canada. Her research focuses on early generativity; that is, how young people are motivated to care for future generations. Further, her knowledge mobilization work focuses on how youth serving organizations can create space for young people to shape their legacies of meaningful change.

Dr. Heather Ramey is an assistant professor of Child & Youth Studies at Brock University and the Co-Director of Research for the Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement at the Students Commission. Her research is focused on youth engagement and youth adult partnerships, and child and youth voice and positive development. She is particularly interested in how children and youth advocate for themselves and others, and make positive contributions to the broader world.

Jrène Rahm is a full professor of educational psychology at the Université de Montréal (PhD, University of Colorado, USA 1989). Her research focuses on the science learning and identity development of children and youth from disadvantaged and multi-ethnic backgrounds, sustained by participation in informal activities such as museums and extracurricular and community programs.

Natasha Blanchet-Cohen is a professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University and co-holder of the Chaire-réseau de recherche sur la jeunesse de Québec (CRJ). Natasha has been involved for over 25 years in partnership research to support youth expression and engagement, favouring a blend of research, intervention and the co-construction of knowledge. Her research interests revolve around youth empowerment, and the consideration of youth perspectives in the delivery and organization of culturally safe and rights-based services.

Youth Researchers and Practitioners

Aseel Mohammed Ali holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Damascus University and Management Certificate from UK Open University and Islamic studies from Harvard University. Aseel is currently working as a Coordinator of the Volunteer Program at the Immigrants Services Association of Nova Scotia. She received two volunteer Awards (Mainland North Volunteer Award & HRM Volunteer Award) in Halifax. Aseel led the (We Are All One) book project successfully in support of #Raising Youth.

David Thibodeau is a former competitive swimmer and current swim coach. He competed at Canada Games for Team New Brunswick in 2013. He is an advocate for better inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in sports and gym classes. David founded Sports for Social Impact to explore sport policy and provide insightful analysis to those working in the sport industry. And he was selected as a Young Sport Maker for Global Sports Week in Paris in 2020.

Cassandra Lobo is currently an undergraduate student. ​During this COVID-19 pandemic she realized many seniors, cancer patients, and children/youth are socially, and physically isolated. For her #RisingYouth project, she created virtual music concert series for everyone to watch, and listen to. ​ Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, many seniors, cancer patients and children are feeling anxious, sad, and lonely. This project helped to engage, and support seniors, cancer patients, and children with music.

Terence D’Souza is a community builder, who believes strongly in youth-led decision-making through youth-led research. Currently, he leads Young Ontarians United, Ontario’s first ever youth-led research organization which amplifies youth voice and lived experiences and unites the province’s key stakeholders to do something about it. Apart from this, he currently studies Public Policy and Political Science at uOttawa, and working as an analyst at the Privy Council Office.

Alex Arseneau2 is an Acadian from New Brunswick, currently doing his Masters in Sociology. Apart from this, he is an urban gardener, an activist for social and environmental justice, an advocate for decolonization, reconciliation, and finally, is a community organizer.



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