Day 1


2014 Conference



Morning Keynote
( 75 minutes )

Counseling Children, Youth and Families with Complex Needs: A Social Ecological Approach to Nurturing Resilience across Cultures and Contexts

————Dr. Michael Ungar

With growing interest in resilience among mental health care providers, there is a need for a simple way to think about the complex interactions that predict which children will do well despite the seriousness of the challenges they face. A focus on resilience helps us to understand children s adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies when there has been exposure to high levels of adversity such as family violence, mental illness of a child or caregiver, natural disasters, forced migration, poverty, racism and other types of social marginalization, or political conflict. In this presentation, Dr. Michael Ungar will draw together case examples from his clinical and community work, as well as results from his research around the world, to show how we can assess childhood resilience and what it means for practice. He will show that by diagnosing resilience, we are in a better position to design interventions that are sensitive to the individual, family, school and community factors that influence a child s wellbeing. Nine factors common to children who cope well under adversity and avoid problems like depression, PTSD, and delinquency will be discussed. This presentation will also explore ways we can intervene to help children cope by changing the social and physical environments that surround them.



A1 Workshop
( 60 minutes )

Counseling Children, Youth and Families with Complex Needs: A Social Ecological Approach to Nurturing Resilience across Cultures and Contexts

————Dr. Michael Ungar

When treating children and adolescents from poor, violent, and emotionally difficult backgrounds, we often focus too narrowly on the individual s complex needs and problems---like delinquency or conflict with caregivers---and miss the broader sources of healing and resilience in young people s lives. This workshop will present a strengths-focused, resistance-proof model for clinical work that draws on the child s friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, teachers and community and cultural mentors as potential sources of resilience and positive development. Participants will learn how to identify and encourage children s sense of personal self-control, agency and power, social justice and fairness, belonging and purpose, spirituality, and cultural rootedness, and to use this ecological map to engage them.



A2 Workshop
( 60 minute )

Neuropsychological Strengths and Challenges of Justice-Involved Youth with FASD

————Katherine Wyper & Andrew Burke

High risk youth are often disconnected from support, experience health challenges, lack positive relationships, and engage in problematic behaviours including justice-involvement. One subset of HYR are those with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) who seem to be at heightened risk, perhaps due to neuropsychological impairments and other adverse environmental factors, and this group is also over-represented in the justice system, It is generally assumed that youth with FASD are distinct from other groups of HRY, but this idea has not been research-validated. We explored whether justice-involved youth with FASD display a unique neuropsychological profile relative to other populations. File reviews are being conducted with clients who attended the Centerpoint program, a forensic unit for youth in conflict with the law. A range of clinical data will be analyzed (i.e. personality, cognitive, academic, neuropsychological) and findings will provide insight into the unique strengths and challenges of high risk youth who have FASD.


Katherine Wyper (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta) is a doctoral student in the School & Clinical Child Psychology program at the University of Alberta. Her work focuses on neuropsychological functioning as it relates to high risk or criminal behavior. She has a special interest in working with vulnerable populations, particularly individuals who have FASD.

Andrew Burke (Alberta Health Services, Centerpoint Program) is a psychologist with the Centerpoint Program, Alberta Hospital Edmonton, where he has worked for the past twelve years with youth who are in conflict with the law. He has done research and lectured on the topics of treatment and risk assessment with adolescents who have offended.

Additional authors who are not presenting: Dr. Jacqueline Pei (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta); Dr. Carmen Rasmussen (Pediatrics, University of Alberta)



A3 Workshop
( 60 minute )

WrapEd: A Collaborative Approach to Youth Gang Prevention in Edmonton

————Holly Miller

Local organizations and agencies came together to submit a collaborative proposal to the federal government for a large scale wraparound gang prevention project. The African Centre, Edmonton John Howard Society, Edmonton Police Services, Native Counselling Services of Alberta, REACH Edmonton and YOUCAN Youth Services have been working together since March 2012 to develop, submit and now implement this project for youth between 12 and 17 years of age. Working in collaboration presents many opportunities and challenges. This panel session will explore some of the learning from the process, provide information about the role of a backbone organization (REACH Edmonton), and offer insight into what has made the collaboration successful to this point. The project itself will be discussed including the referral process and how the wraparound approach will be used.


Lindsay Daniller, REACH Edmonton (moderator)  has been involved in a variety of community building work in her original home of South Africa and adopted home of Edmonton. In addition to being a seasoned consultant and facilitator with public, private and community organizations, she has been in a variety of leadership positions in organizations in both countries. Lindsay currently works as the Director of Community Initiatives and Development at REACH Edmonton Council for Safe Communities, a new initiative in Edmonton that aims to catalyze and support community action to make Edmonton a safer city. Collective impact is a passion for Lindsay as they try and solve complex social issues and knows that you need true resilience to be that backbone for others in the community.

Tesfaye Ayalew (Africa Centre)  is the Executive Director of the Africa Centre. The Africa Centre strives to create opportunities for access and full participation of members of the African community in all aspects of society.  This includes educational, cultural , social and economic endeavors that ultimately contribute to the holistic development and wellness of the African individual, family and community.

Heather Peddle (Edmonton John Howard Society) is the Coordinator or of Youth Support services with the Edmonton john Howard Society.  She has been working with at risk and high risk youth in various capacities for the past 16 years.  Heather has focused her last 8 years of work on supporting youth who are involved or at risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice system and supporting them to make positive change in their lives.

Michelle Fillion (Edmonton Police Service) Michelle Fillion’s 19 years experience in crime prevention programming with Edmonton Police Service (EPS) has brought her to her current position as Manager of the Collaborative Policing Section. Her innovation and leadership in program development, building partnerships and community policing is well known. Michelle is the founder of the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET) program, EPS Youth Unit and Y-50 program.

Karen Erickson (Native Counselling Services of Alberta)  is the Program Manager of the Urban Aboriginal Family Resource Centre with Native Counselling Services of Alberta. For the past ten years she has focused her work on gang intervention through Pohna: Keepers of the Fire and the Community  Solution to Gang Violence. Karen has Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria and an M.Ed from (OISE) University of Toronto.

Holly Miller (REACH Edmonton) is a Project Coordinator at the REACH Edmonton Council for Safe Communities.  Her focus has been on youth community safety initiatives since REACH’s inception in 2010.  Holly is involved with a number of initiatives through her current work at REACH Edmonton.

Kyle Dubé (YOUCAN Youth Services) is the Executive Director of YOUCAN Youth Services.  Kyle has lived in the Edmonton Area his entire life and has been dedicated to working with youth for the past 20 plus years. Kyle has been with YOUCAN Youth Services since 2002. In that time, YOUCAN Youth Services has grown from a one-person office, to being a leading organization in the area of youth work and transitional youth programming with 20 staff implementing four major projects in the Edmonton community. Kyle believes firmly in the YOUCAN Youth Services Youth Work Strategy and how the Stages of Change can apply to anyone in any situation.



A4 Workshop
( 60 minute )

Examining Health and Emergency Care Needs of Street Involved Youth

————David Nicholas & Peter Smyth

The purpose of our research was to examine street involved (SI) youths experiences and needs related to Emergency Room (ER) services, and to develop recommendations for optimizing ER accessibility, responsiveness and impact with SI youth. A collaborative and participatory approach was used in the study as the literature reports a disconnection between SI youths experiences and values relative to those of those who typically conduct research and provide ER care. Findings indicate that a collision of cultures occurs when street involved youth encounter institutional expectations requiring efficient professional and time sensitive procedures. The results are reduced effectiveness of services, with potentially poor outcomes for SI youth. The process of developing this research study involved the development of a collaborative, integrated, inter-professional team of researchers from health and community who worked with the youth to better understand the experiences and needs related to ER use. Outcomes involved re-visioning the cultural knowledge and expectations related to the participatory process.


David Nicholas: Associate professor, University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work, principal investigator on this project.

Peter Smyth: Specialist for High Risk Youth Services, Edmonton & Area Child & Family services, Co-investigator on this project. Peter Smyth has been a social worker with Edmonton and Area Child and Family Services for over 24 years, and is currently the Specialist for High Risk Youth Services. The past 18 years has focused on youth and developing a practice framework and philosophy incorporating progressive and non-traditional intervention methods to better meet the needs of this very challenging population.



A5 Workshop
( 60 minute )

Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative

————Dr. Carlana Lindeman

The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) was established in 2008 to initiate education projects that improve education at the elementary and secondary school levels for Aboriginal children and youth. MAEI brings together Aboriginal organization, the business community, post-secondary institutions, First Nation schools and provincially and territorially-funded school boards to implement programs to support Aboriginal students. Projects have been implemented across Canada and include: The Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Project, a large clearinghouse (Promising Practices in Aboriginal Education), accounting and banking mentoring programs, the We Stand Together campaign with Free the Children, and two on-reserve Model School projects focusing on improving literacy and achievement.


Dr. Carlana Lindeman (Martin Aboriginal Institute)  - A former educator, Carlana served with the Ontario Ministry of Education for 18 years, working with school boards and First Nation schools in Northwestern Ontario to improve Aboriginal student success. She holds a doctorate from OISE/UT. She serves as the Education Program Director for the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative.



A6 Workshop
( 60 minute )

Leveraging the Science of Brain Development to Support High Risk Youth

————Dr. Marni Peace & Dr. Nicole Sherren

An exploration of recent research on brain development regarding the effects of early trauma and its impact on high risk youth regarding their functioning, responsiveness and coping strategies regarding stress, decision making, capacity to attach and build relationships, sense of self care and other factors that would be helpful for front-line staff, program managers and policy makers to be aware of when considering their roles in understanding and supporting high risk youth.  The information will be presented in an accessible manner utilizing resources and tools such as The Brain Game and the recently released animated video How Brains are Built   which presents the core story of brain development in an accessible and visually engaging format for public audiences.

The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, as part of the Norlien Foundation, developed the video with considerable input from partners at the Harvard Center on the Developing Child and the FrameWorks Institute. Using metaphors developed by FrameWorks and tested with audiences both in the US and in Alberta, How Brains are Built infuses core story concepts with energy, accessibility, and high fidelity to the science. This information will be provided in a manner that can be shared within participant s organizations to build capacity in this important area. Time will be provided for discussion and action planning on how best to use this information to inform policies and practices relevant to working with high risk youth.


Dr. Marni Peace has over 20 years of teaching experience-in both the K-12 and post-secondary systems. Her research and practice have focused on issues surrounding community, diversity and belonging. Marni is seconded to Safe and Caring from Alberta Education where she continues to be involved in collaborative projects on a variety of initiatives to ensure that Alberta s vulnerable children, youth and families are safe, healthy and successful at learning. The Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities (Safe and Caring) is a not-for-profit organization which builds community capacity to prevent bullying, violence and exploitation of children and youth through the promotion of healthy relationships. Marni also co-chairs Alberta s Mentoring Partnership Association, the first of its kind in Canada.

Dr. Nicole Sherren is the Scientific Director of the Norlien Foundation and a Program Officer with the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative. She has a PhD in Neuroscience from Carleton University in Ottawa and moved to Alberta in 2003 to hold an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research/Neuroscience Canada research fellowship at the University of Lethbridge. Her research focus includes experience-based brain development, neurodevelopmental disorders, and brain plasticity. Nicole joined the Norlien Foundation in 2007 to focus on mobilizing scientific knowledge into policy and clinical practice. She lends her expertise to a number of working committees and community projects across the province and also serves as a board member for Calgary Alpha House Society.


Day 1




Afternoon Keynote
( 75 minutes )

Traumatic Identity Development and the High Risk Youth

————Jacqui Linder

This presentation will explore the impact of traumatic stress on child and youth identity development. Vulnerability to addiction, mental health issues, sexual exploitation, and gang affiliation will be examined from attachment and developmental perspectives.

Jacqui Linder is a registered psychologist and certified Clinical Traumatologist currently completing her doctoral dissertation on soul loss in survivors of childhood sexual abuse. She founded the Chrysalis Network in 2010 and Canada's National Roundtable on Human Trafficking the following year. In 2011, she also co-founded Freedom Relay Canada, an annual education and fundraising initiative for survivors of human trafficking and exploitation. In 2013, Jacqui developed and launched Canada's first national human trafficking investigators forum, an inter-provincial initiative designed to connect law enforcement personnel from coast to coast. Jacqui has extensive training in complementary healing techniques such as art therapy, voice and movement therapy, psychodrama, and ritual healing. She is an experienced facilitator and has conducted workshops across Canada on the neurobiology of PTSD, trauma recovery, stress management, burnout, grief & loss, psychological first aid, and therapeutic breathwork.

Jacqui has worked with a wide range of populations including First Nations and Inuit communities, male offenders, war rape survivors, survivors of human trafficking, commercial sex workers, former gang members, military and law enforcement members, judges, lawyers, government employees, medical personnel, and survivors of childhood sexual abuse/adult sexual assault. She is the CEO of the Spiral Phoenix Trauma Institute, which treats military, first responder, and law enforcement personnel, along with survivors of complex, interpersonal trauma.

Jacqui is a professor of psychology and senior administrator at City University in Edmonton, Alberta. She consults for a number of NGO's and law enforcement agencies across Canada on the trauma of human trafficking. Her professional affiliations include the College of Alberta Psychologists, the Psychological Association of Alberta, the American Psychological Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the National Anger Management Association.



B1 Workshop
( 90 minutes )

Identify Trauma

————Jacqui Linder

This workshop will help front line workers to better understand and cope with the behavioural problems that emerge from identity trauma.Strategies for rapport building, evaluation, stabilization, and harm reduction will be explored both theoretically and experientially.



B2 Workshop
( 90 minute )

Below the Belt

————Corey Wyness

The world of High Risk Youth often includes high risk sex on many levels. This presentation examines the sexuality of high risk youth and the activities that make up this unique sex culture. We will experience the real life of sexual exploitation and survival sex the youth experience on a daily basis. The roles of gender, sexual orientation and online influences will also be looked at. Participants will have opportunities to share their challenges and even have dialogue on some possible directions we as workers and agencies can take around these issues.


Corey Wyness (Walking Barefoot) Corey has dedicated his life to working with lgbtq2 youth and adults. He currently heads up a new venture called Walking Barefoot, that works with Queer youth and males/2 spirited sex workers. He teaches a very popular real sex ed class in many schools and youth agencies within the city. He is also a Community Education Facilitator for HIV Edmonton. With a background rooted in psychology, social work ,he strives to be the underdog for youth and Queer communities.



B3 Workshop
( 90 minute )

Reframing Sexuality and Sexual Health for High Risk Youth

————Becky Van Tassel

Sexuality is an integral aspect of human development.  This workshop will address how sexuality is often overlooked in people who are experiencing addictions, homelessness, experiencing sexual exploitation, or through belonging to marginalized communities.  In fact, sexuality is often impacted in a negative manner by individuals in these contexts.  Thus, the need to identify ways to sensitively help clients reclaim this part of their lives. The presenter will utilize professional experience working from a harm reduction framework and also new research in the areas of trauma, abuse, and sexuality. Participants will engage in a process of deconstructing cultural messages about sex and sexuality and the impacts these messages have on an individual s sexuality. Through the use of interactive activities and discussion, participants will learn tools to assist clients in increasing sexual wellbeing wherever they are at in their lives.


Becky Van Tassel (Calgary Sexual Health Centre Training Centre Coordinator) is a registered social worker and has worked with marginalized populations in the areas of counselling, education, community development and harm reduction. Currently, Becky is employed at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre as the Training Centre Coordinator. Becky is dedicated to providing educational sessions to youth and adults from a Feminist philosophy.



B4 Workshop
( 90 minute )

An Identity-Based Intervention Approach to Working with High Risk Ethnocultural Youth

————Dr. Hieu Van Ngo

This presentation focuses on the lived experiences of gang involved enthocultural youth, and the development of effective strategies in working with this population. It is grounded in the Canadian experience where immigrant and ethnic minority youth represent about 20% of all young Canadians under the age of 18, and are expected to reach 25% by 2016 (Canadian Council on Social Development, 2006). The proposed presentation begins with brief overview of the socio-demographic contexts of Canada. It proceeds to present the research findings from the interviews with 30 gang involved ethnocultural youth, which provide insights into their complex life experiences. The presentation then advances the argument that achievement of positive identities is crucial to healthy development and success of ethnocultural youth. It proposes an identity-based intervention approach in working with high risk and gang involved ethnocultural youth, which aims to foster their self-concept, ethnic identity, national identity/citizenship and sense of belonging. This presentation also seeks critical dialogues with participants.


Dr. Hieu Van Ngo (Faculty of Social Work, Univeristy of Calgary) is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. He has successfully led several action research initiatives that address issues facing ethnocultural youth. Ngo has received a number of awards for his work.



B5 Workshop
( 90 minute )

Youth Guided Participatory Action Research (PAR), Youth Developed Framework for Youth Engagement with High Risk Youth and Youth Engagement Through Hip Hop

————Dr. Yoshitaka Iwasaki and Youth for YEG, Cynthia Puddu and Michael B. MacDonald

(Michael and Cynthia) Participatory Action Research (PAR) has been successfully used to develop youth intervention programs that empower youth to make better choices. This session will present a specific PAR model of youth engagement that looks at bringing together high risk youth, youth workers, HipHop cultural specialists and HipHop artists with researchers to develop interventions aimed at reducing high risk behavior and empowering at-risk youth. Specific examples of this model in practice will be presented. The intent of this session is to have an open conversation of different culturally informed methods to engage high risk youth. Session participants will be encouraged to share ideas on other models of youth engagement and successful interventions.

(Dr. Iwasaki and Youth for YEG) Engaging high-risk marginalized youth presents a significant challenge, considering the prevalence of disconnect and distrust that these youth often experience with their system in which they live. Yet, the engagement of youth to build meaningful social relationships is a key concept for positive youth development. The purpose of our Participatory Action Research (PAR)


Cynthia Puddu(Faculty of Health and Community Studies, MacEwan Univeristy) is an instructor in the Physical Education Department at MacEwan University and is a PhD student in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on youth resiliency and youth empowerment, and she is interested in engaging youth in the research process using Participatory Action Research.

Michael B. MacDonald (Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications) is an Assistant Professor of Music at MacEwan University. He teaches courses in the history of popular music, jazz, Western Art Music, electro-acoustic music, music technology and the music industry. He publishes widely on topics in Popular Music with special attention to Critical Youth Studies, music education, cultural studies of aesthetics and ethnomusicology.

Dr. Yoshitaka Iwasaki, PhD (Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families (CUP), Facuty Extension, University of Alberta) . Dr. Iwasaki s expertise includes culture, diversity, and community engagement: Participatory Action Research and Capacity Building. Using a holistic, strengths-based framework, his team s research mobilizes diverse partners voices and talents into improving their communities. Currently, Dr. Iwasaki is the director of CUP and Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta.

Youth for YEG is the young engagement group in Edmonton that is currently involved in Youth Guided Participatory Action Research (PAR) with High Risk Youth



B6 Workshop
( 90 minute )

Drug Trends and How to Move Youth Forward

————Michell Chaffey & Ramon Flores

We will address population drug trends with particular emphasis on youth trends in the Edmonton area. We will explore strategies for working with youth to move them towards change, ith reference to the stages of Change Model. We will also address concurrent disorders and how to work effectively with concurrent disorders.


Michell Chaffy (Alberta Health Services, Addiction & Mental Health)

Ramon Flores (Alberta Health Services, Addiction & Mental Health)


Day 2




Morning Keynote
( 75 minutes )

From Skid Row and Beat Cops: What Works

————The Odd Squad

The goal of the Odd Squad is to educate the public and youth directly about the devastating effects of high-risk behaviour. Today s youth face difficult choices, enormous peer pressure, and more readily available and potent mind-altering drugs, than at any other time in history. The Odd Squad ascribes to the notion that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that drug prevention programs are a more cost-effective and healthier investment for youth than treatment. Through valuable and thought-provoking visual media tools, the Odd Squad organization brings its mission to life.

The members of the Odd Squad have seen firsthand the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol; they work in an overwhelmingly negative environment. But with unprecedented access to tragic life stories, the various members of the Odd Squad were determined to do something positive to educate at-risk groups of the dangers of substance abuse and other criminal behaviour. They founded Odd Squad Productions, a volunteer band of police officers who produce movies and make presentations to keep kids clean and off the street, to educate the public and to help those already in the grasps of high risk lifestyles.

The non-profit group recently marked its 15th anniversary, and they have produced more than 15 documentaries telling real stories of the pitfalls of drug abuse, gangs and other high-risk behaviour. The Odd Squad will share some of their stores and include strategies they have learned from their many years on the streets.



C1 Workshop
( 90 minutes )

Working with High Risk and Street Involved Youth from a Harm Reduction Approach

————Boyle Street Community Services

Harm Reduction is often defined as any policy or program designed to reduce drug-related harm without requiring the cessation of drug use (Erickson et al., 2012). Boyle Street Community Services Youth Services, however, takes an innovative approach in practicing harm reduction with young people in a variety of program areas. This model uses harm reduction to address activities such as gang involvement, drug dealing, sex work and relationships with family and/or significant others. This presentation will review the principles of Harm Reduction, and describe how it is beneficial in program delivery.

The use of Harm Reduction in working with High Risk Youth is an innovative resiliency based practice model used by Boyle Street Community Services. This model can be effective in working with youth involved in sex work, unhealthy relationships, gang activity and drug dealing.


Ashley Strand - Ashley Strand is a social worker in Boyle Street Community Services - Youth Unit, where she works with hard to reach and street involved youth. Ashley Strand grew up as a high risk youth herself. She received her degree from the University Of Calgary and is currently working on her RSW.

Dan McNeill is the Aboriginal High Risk Youth Worker at Boyle Street. He started youth work teaching English to Youth in Ecuador and then in 2011 led a youth adventure to Colombia. Recently he has been working with the Alberta Future Leaders Program in various First Nation communities throughout Alberta.

Jelle Van Ens is a Social Worker who has worked in Edmonton s downtown core for the past 20 years. Prior to his current position, he was a Mental Health Therapist with AHS and worked with youth and adults who engage at Boyle Street. He has a BA (Anthropology) and BSW from the University of Calgary.



C2 Workshop
( 90 minute )

Ending Youth Homelessness: Creating Connections

————Jeremy Nixon, Kim Wirth, Janet Bun and Darlene Petrie

Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary have provided programming for homeless youth for 25 years. Working with high-risk youth has required a shift towards relationship strengths based approaches. Helping youth identify resources they bring and emphasizing youth voice and choice has created openness with our hardest to engage youth. Driven by What would it take to end this youth s experience with homelessness? BGCC developed a comprehensive system including prevention, shelter, family reunification and housing first programs.

McMan (Calgary), a responsive and innovative partner in building community capacity, has been providing services in the Calgary area since 1980. This presentation includes an introduction to the High Fidelity Wraparound model incorporated with the Foyer model. This enhanced service uses housing first to ensure successful transition of youth into adulthood. Also included will be an interactive family finding exercise. Through a case study, we will demonstrate tools used to measure assets, needs and development for youth. We will demonstrate how this model can be replicated in urban and rural communities. Wraparound refers to a team based process where families/youth with complex needs are empowered to work collaboratively with formal/informal supports to develop a plan that will help them realize their vision for a better life. The Foyer model, a transitional housing process, emphasizes a continuum of housing options and day programming based on the needs of youth.


For 13 years Jeremy Nixon (Boys & Girls Club of Calgary Manager of Shelters) has worked in shelter and housing programs. Jeremy s focus has been on moving shelters from welcome model to a focus on ending homelessness. Jeremy has worked on several projects including building social enterprise, developing case management systems, introducing aftercare supports and reenergizing the way shelters work with community.

Beginning in 2000, Kim Wirth s (Manager of Prevention and Outreach) career at BGCC has been based on her belief that housing is a human right and youth belong in families. Her working include launching an award-winning Housing First project and currently is focused on preventing and diverting youth from homelessness through relationship-based case management engaging natural supports.

Janet Bun (McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association), a credentialed High-Fidelity Wraparound facilitator, has been serving youth in the homeless and youth justice system for the past 5 years. The successful outcomes demonstrate Janet s ability and passion to engage youth/families in reaching their full potential as they move out of the justice system and transition into adulthood.

Darlene Petrie (McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association) has been an employee of McMan Calgary for 25 years. Her passion and dedication is demonstration by  her commitment to developing programs that meet the needs of the vulnerable youth in the Calgary community. She has initiated several programs that provide advocacy and housing for complex needs youth experiencing homelessness.



C3 Workshop
( 90 minute )

Out Through the In Door: Demystifying frontline work with high-risk youth

————Daniel Cramer

This 90 minute, two part presentation is designed to give attendees a working knowledge of the practice framework and philosophy used by the caseworkers and community youth specialists who work collaboratively with youth in Region six High Risk Youth Initiative. Part one focuses on the history of the work, client type and issues, building relationships, hard reduction, safety planning, community collaboration, worker safety, accessing resources, advocacy, anti-oppressive practices and practice issues. Part two features a panel of veterans, all doing work with High Risk Youth, in an extended question and answer session designed to give attendees concrete examples of this specialized work and ways to integrate this practice into their own work. Although based on the theories developed by the original High Risk Youth Unit and well-known researchers, this presentation is strongly focused on the actual practices employed with High Risk Youth in an attempt to demystify this important work for frontline workers.


Daniel Cramer (Child and Family Services, Region Six Case Worker, High Risk Youth Initiative) Daniel s passion for working with youth developed when he was a music teacher and record producer during his first career as a musician after graduating from MacEwan University s music program. Moving into the profession of social work, Daniel soon found his niche with various youth-serving agencies, working his way up to a manager position in an Edmonton-area youth shelter. His social justice interests led to his work on various task forces and committees to serve youth in the Edmonton area. This work prompted him to further his education at MacEwan University so he could become a registered social worker. He currently works as a caseworker for the Region Six High Risk Youth Initiative. Believing strongly in access to services for all, Daniel continues to volunteer in an advocacy role for diverse youth populations. Daniel still enjoys creating music and can often be found performing jazz on the vibraharp at various venues around Edmonton.

Sarah Harris is a Community Youth Specialist for Boyle Street Community Youth Specialist's High Risk Youth Unit. She has been working on the unit for approximately three years and has found great joy in the work that is being accomplished with High Risk Youth in Edmonton. She started her work with youth while still a youth herself by volunteering with many youth serving agencies and has continued in a variety of roles including working with young people with special needs, in group care, in the education system and in government run agencies.

Sarah earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Northern British Columbia in 2010 with a focus in social psychology. She believes in working with young people through a strengths-based and client-centered approach. She understands that everyone has strengths and honing in on these, often hidden, skills is the key to fostering meaningful change.



C4 Workshop
( 90 minute )

Arts n Trauma Building an artful connection through imagination

————Lindsey Ames & Rick Guthrie

Our first intervention as frontline workers is to build rapport and connection with our clients. Drawing on concepts from Self-Regulation Theory, a trauma model, as well as from Expressive Arts Practice we will explore the concepts of connecting over an individual s health and wellness as well as their survival through challenging life circumstances. Through a guided expressive arts activity we will experiment and play with the imagination as a resource to support meaningful connection between frontline workers and clients.


Lindsey Ames (Aboriginal Consulting Services & Alberta Health Services    BSW, RSW): I am many things including a social worker and an artist. I completed m social work diploma in 2000 and went on to pursue my bachelor s degree through the University of Calgary, graduating in 2003. I spent many hours volunteering in my youth to help my community and have always enjoyed people and the stories of our living. I was fortunate to be born into a family of artists and have been exploring the world through arts and crafts since my childhood. Art making allows me to connect to myself and express my experience of being in the world. I have discovered that art making is a way to integrate my experiences both as a person and a professional in such a way that I am better able to care for myself and continue to support others and hear the stories of their living. I began studying Expressive Arts through the apprenticeship program at the World Arts Organization in 2010 and continue to study presently. I also work as a medical social worker at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in the inner city of Edmonton as well as in the community with children and their families who are involved in family violence through the Aboriginal Consulting Services. I believe that the Expressive Arts and Social Work are complementary bridges that can support people in discovering and exploring their personal narratives. I believe in our stories.

Rick Guthrie (Alberta Health Services MSW, RSW): I am a third generation Edmontonian, inner-city resident, and father of two amazing daughters. I am also a university graduate, social worker, community developer and organizer, poet/writer ad musician. In 1990, I began volunteering in an inner city drop-in center; this led to 10 years working in the community, and eventually to an undergraduate degree followed by a graduate degree in social work. My involvement in the inner city community allowed me to witness a way of life that was rich in story, character and tragedy. Writing was a way to cope, both for myself and for many who frequented the center. This experience was the beginning of my perusing the merging of art into social work practice. This began through the creation of the Songs of the Street Art Foundation to give voice to people living on or near the street. In addition I began to write songs for agencies in the inner city, like the Bissell Centre, and Operation Friendship, to tell the stories of those who frequent these agencies and to bring awareness to the issues they face. I have also brought music and poetry into the classes I have taught at UofC, faculty of social work. Over the last 3 years I have been taking Expressive Arts Training (Apprenticeship programs) through the World Arts Organization (affiliated with St. Stephens College). I am currently employed with Alberta Human Service as a Program Advisor within the Assistant Deputy Ministers Office, dealing with Disability Policy and Supports.



C5 Workshop
( 90 minute )

Making the Connection: Engaging and Working with High Risk Youth

————Peter Smyth

High-risk youth are the disconnected . A majority of these youth have had negative experiences with the system , perceiving that their needs were not met and that their relationship with caseworkers and service providers has been strained. New strategies are discussed highlighting the importance of reaching out and building relationships with youth who live dangerous lifestyles. These youth typically struggle with authority and have few, if any, people they can trust. Strategies will be presented as to how to break through the well-defended walls of this population, and how to engage and empower the youth in making healthy and safe decisions in their lives. This challenges us to take our practice from a doing to to a working with partnership. The collective wisdom of passionate people can create a healthy community around the youth and, hopefully, their view of the world as a frightening and lonely place can be changed to one of hope and optimism.


Peter Smyth has been a social worker with Edmonton and Area Child and Family Services for over 24 years, and is currently the Specialist for High Risk Youth Services. The past 18 years has focused on youth and developing a practice framework and philosophy incorporating progressive and non-traditional intervention methods to better meet the needs of this very challenging population.



C6 Workshop
( 90 minute )

High Risk Youth Uncensored: An Educational Experience

————Catherine Broomfield (iHuman Youth Society)

Uncensored is a project initiated by the youth of iHuman to educate professionals and social service providers how to engage with them in non-adversarial ways.  Formed in 2009, Uncensored has delivered workshops for numerous government departments, community agencies and post-secondary classrooms across Alberta and the NWT.  In addition, presentations have been performed at a number of social justice conferences.  The interactive nature of forum theatre allows audience members to be actively engaged in re-creating scenes and discussing what can be learned through these dramatizations.  Uncensored is an opportunity for an 'educational exchange' between the youth performers and the audience.

In this interactive presentation, the audience will encounter the performance of 2-4 forum theatre scenes which reflect the stereotypical experience of "high risk youth" when engaging with professional who work in the areas of child welfare, social assistance, education, health and justice.   The scenes are designed, scripted and performed by a talented crew of youth from iHuman Youth Society.  iHuman utilizes a harm reduction philosophy to engage youth who exhibit high risk behaviours in arts activities that led to positive social change.  iHuman promotes the re-integration of youth into the community through a program involving caring, creative and authentic programming.


Day 2




Afternoon Keynote
( 75 minutes )

The Value of Just Care for (High Risk) Youth

————Joanne Minaker

Care can be a powerful social justice practice. I propose an alternative starting point to contrast the position of high-risk youth in a place of difference, marginalization and as "Other." I ask, what if we began from the perspective of shared humanity? The research demonstrates that lack of secure attachment and inadequate care lie at the root of many of the challenges facing high-risk youth. While still taking into account the unique barriers and strengths of this group of marginalized youth, beginning from the assumption that we all share a human fundamental need for care opens up new ways to think about, and practice care for, youth. I invite participants to join the conversation about how we can more fully practice, cultivate and humanize care. I'll discuss my 2013 TEDx talk, Just Care and provide an overview of my research and practical engagement with youth crime and youth justice. I will elaborate on the concept of transformative care and engage participants in a conversation about what just caring looks like.

The purpose of the presentation is to encourage critical reflection on what it means to practice care for high risk youth. I illustrate why creating "care-full spaces" and humanizing care, youth, and youth care can make a meaningful difference not only in the lives of young people but the wider society. I hope to educate, inspire, and celebrate social engagements that practice the value, all children matter.


Joanne teaches and researches at MacEwan University and earned her PhD in Socio-Legal Studies from Queen s University in 2003 and is the Founder of Cared Humanity, her new venture aimed at creating more care-full spaces to live, work, and play. She is a widely respected educator and has published numerous articles. She co-authored the book, Youth, Crime and Society: Issues of Power and Justice (2009) with Bryan Hogeveen, with whom she is currently collaborating on a new book on Criminalized Mothering (forthcoming 2014). Dr. Minaker's scholarly, creative and pedagogical work draws attention to the power of meaningful connections in creating openings for personal transformation and social change. Her recent work identifies the processes through which marginalized women and criminalized youth are excluded, silenced, and dehumanized in mainstream society (e.g. the blame and shame narrative that stigmatizes young mothers). This project aims is to develop a better theoretical understanding that will ultimately contribute to practice and policy in youth justice and child welfare systems



D1 Workshop
( 60 minutes )

Odd Squad's Workshop

————The Odd Squad

The Odd Squad will delve further into the strategies they have discovered which work with the high-risk youth population. The will elaborate on their keynote presentation.



D2 Workshop
( 60 minutes )

Connecting the Dots for Better Outcomes: Youth Addictions and Trauma

————Dr. Wanda Polzin & Sharon Lindstrom

Through a trauma lens, this interactive presentation will discuss the challenges of working with youth with addictions and mental health concerns. This will include a discussion of key evidence based considerations to intervention and treatment, including: (1) Change process, (2) the chronic disease model to care, (3) trauma-informed practices, and (4) integrative assertive community treatment. We will provide a clear framework for assessment and treatment which highlights understanding neurobiology, toxic stress, and attachment to build resilience and success for high-risk youth.


Dr. Wanda Polzin (MA, RSW, EdD Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Director/Clinical Practice Lead) is a Clinical Practice Lead for Trauma and Addictions with CASA. She has over 20 years of clinical experience working with children, youth and families with addictions and mental health issues. Her professional work has spanned child and family services, community mental health, as well as acute in-patient care settings. She has specialized training and interests in the area of children s mental health, Trauma and Attachment, FASD and Concurrent Disorders

Sharon Lindstrom (B. Psych, BSW, MSW, RSW Child, Adolescent, and Family Mental Health Program Coordinator) is a clinical social worker who has 30 years of experience in child welfare systems as well as children, youth and families. She presently works with Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health (CASA) within Concurrent Disorders Program as well as Crisis Services Program.



D3 Workshop
( 60 minutes )

Advocating for High Risk Youth

————Arlene Eaton Erikson & Melanie Lukevich

Do high risk youth know they have rights? Do they know they are entitled to have a voice? Many high risk youth feel powerless, voiceless and alone. Our first step to empowering them is to teach them about their rights. The next step it to give them opportunities to feel heard. If they don t feel heard, we can help advocate for them. This session will touch on youth rights, the importance of youth voice, how to create environments where youth feel heard and how to advocate for them. Presenters will be from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate.


Arlene Eaton Erikson (Office of the Child and Youth Advocate Community Engagement Advocate) is currently the Community Engagement Advocate with the OCYA. She was with Human Services (Edmonton and Area) as a front-line worker and supervisor from 1996-2004. She is co-author of a published book chapter on strategies for working with high-risk youth and of the monograph Standing Up for Kids

Melanie (Office of the Child and Youth Advocate) is the Public Education Specialist for the northern half of the province, where she educates stakeholders on youth rights, advocacy and the role of our office. Previously she promoted youth engagement through the Ministry of Human Services. Her career has seen her support in schools, day programs and shelters.



D4 Workshop
( 60 minutes )

When You Know Better, You Do Better

————Juanita Murphy

Juanita will share her story and offer an analysis of the factors that led to her exploitation and survival choices. She brings the experience of the past couples with what youth share with her today. Juanita will share what helped and what harmed from the different interventions in her life as an exploited child, youth and woman. Juanita will present her prevention education power point for youth. She speaks frankly with youth about: What is sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. The website offers youth a resource and a way to contact Juanita with follow-up questions.


Juanita Murphey (Center To End All Sexual Exploitation Public Educator) survived inter-generational trauma, addictions, situational crimes, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation. She works with high-ris youth who experience the same challenges. Juanita graduated from the Indigenous Addictions Certificate from Nechi Institute and Victim Advocate traninging. She has received three awards: IAAW ESAQUO Award, YMCA Women of Distinction, and Woman of Courage Award, CEASE.



D5 Workshop
( 60 minutes )

Putting Youth at the Center of Care: The Alex Youth Health Centre

————Danene Lenstra

The Alex Youth Health Centre (YHC) provides comprehensive health and wellness services through a variety of welcoming, accessible, non-judgemental and youth-friendly mediums. The YHC seeks to reduce barriers to accessing healthcare for vulnerable youth who are at risk, street-connected, are at risk of being homeless, or are experiencing homelessness. The YHC considers health from the broadest sense as the physical, mental and social wellbeing of the individual. The YHC does not only focus on the treatment of disease and illness, but includes the broader social, cultural and economic factors that influence health and well-being, such as housing, education, employment, social support and the environment. Our First Nation clients represent approximately 40% of our client base, which is juxtaposed to the approximate 3% of Calgary s population, as reported by Stats Canada. Our Youth Health Bus is an innovative means to reach out into vulnerable high school youth, to optimize accessibility to health and social solutions.


Danene Lenstra has a BSc (Psych) and a BEd. She was Avenue Magazine s top 40 under 40 and received the McKillop Award for excellence in leadership. She started working with high-risk and vulnerable youth in 1998 and today leads a team of over 30 serving more than 3000 youth per year.



D6 Workshop
( 60 minutes )

Warrior Program

————Doreen Leserance

Doreen along with Elder Dora Palmer has been running Tapwe the Youth Warrior Program at EYOC since 2008. The program was designed to assist Aboriginal youth who are caught in the cycle of violence. The program is founded on the basic principles of Natural Law (caring, kindness, respect, love and self determination), which are learned through ceremony. While participating in the Youth Warrior program, youth will have an opportunity to explore emotional, spiritual, physical and mental dimensions of their lives, in relation to their experience with anger, rage and violence. As a result, the youth identifies his own cycle of violence and then can develop skills that will enable him to live a non violent lifestyle.

One thing I have learned working in rhythm with these rebellious youth is to be unselfish, giving and forgiving. I have come to learn that they are doing the best that they can with what they have got, and when they know better, they do better. I am very fortunate to see their kindness, their innocence and their talent that lies within them.  There is no progress without struggle and we smile& because we made it through


Doreen Lesperance comes from the Pimicikamak First Nation also known as Cross Lake Band in Northern Manitoba.  She was born in St. Boniface, grew up in Fredericton and became a teenager in Edmonton, where she has resided since. She spent 15 years working with the homeless and high risk youth before moving to the Edmonton Young Offender Centre (EYOC) in 2002 as an Aboriginal Program Coordinator. Doreen is a graduate of Grant McEwan s Correctional services Program and went on (many many years later) to receive a Criminology degree from Simon Fraser University.