We work to connect children and youth with nature through policy, research, and practice.
We aim to have a deep impact on families and communities across the country. This is woven into all our key initiatives including: Forest School Canada, the major educational arm of CNAC; Thrive Outside, our online resource and learning hub; and our research and policy development efforts.
- Petra is a Settler Canadian of Eastern European descent, living, working, and playing on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people. She is a mother of three boys, an educator by vocation, and a high-wire juggler of the two. Professionally, she is most proud of having designed and piloted the Outdoor Kindergarten program for 3, 4, and 5 year olds at Tawingo College in Hunstville, Ontario, and of co-founding the Ottawa Forest and Nature School. Petra is committed to starting from a place of trust, sharing power with children, and finding greater freedom for and with children and educators through play-based, child-led learning on and with the Land. At the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada she supports a national team of educators in shaping and facilitating professional learning around Forest and Nature School and risky play. Together they are exploring how to decolonize their work as Land-based educators and contribute meaningfully to the Truth and Reconciliation process in Canada.
- Stephanie comes to the organization with several years of experience of working with children in the public and nonprofit sectors. She completed her degree in Linguistics and CTESL at Carleton University while spending a number of years working at the City of Ottawa’s Department of Parks and Recreation and with Hostelling International Canada. She spent a year teaching English in Spain and exploring the rich and diverse outdoor landscapes that the country had to offer before returning to her hometown of Ottawa and starting with the Child and Nature Alliance. Her hobbies include: camping, learning languages, hiking, organizing, cooking, and puzzles.
- Marc is a father, husband, and explorer living and working on Algonquin territory in Ottawa, Ontario. He has a Master's degree in Indigenous and Canadian Studies from Carleton University and a certificate in Outdoor Adventure Leadership from Strathcona Park Lodge in British Columbia. Marc spent several years in the public service and charitable sectors nurturing Reconciliation in the systems that are meant to care for Indigenous kids. Marc was drawn to the Child & Nature Alliance of Canada by a close connection to the outdoor world and an understanding that nature-based play and learning is the foundation for a harmonious life and a healthy environment.
- Natalia is a recent graduate from the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Carleton University, and earned a specialization in Social Policy and Administration. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo in Social Development Studies with specializations in Social Work and Individual Well-Being and Development. Natalia has worked in policy and research at the federal and municipal levels, and also has direct practice experience working with a variety of communities including persons with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, individuals experiencing homelessness, and marginalized children and youth.
Natalia first joined CNAC as a Playworker for the pilot year of the Play in Parks program in 2018. After seeing the wonderful impact that unstructured and nature-based play had on children, families and their communities through the program, Natalia was inspired to continue working in child and youth development with a focus on access, equity and inclusion.
In her spare time, Natalia can be found trying out new recipes, camping, hiking, traveling and spending time outdoors, and writing and performing music in the community.
- Cherlene recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and law from Carleton University. Trained in the art of storytelling, she comes to CNAC with several years of experience using audio, video and print mediums to capture and engage audiences. She has also held marketing and communications roles for various student organizations where she designed content and managed social media.
In previous years, Cherlene worked at a performing arts centre and as a summer camp counsellor for persons with disabilities. Proud of her Filipino heritage, she has also helped organize a national leadership conference for Filipino Canadian youth in Ottawa.
In her free time, Cherlene can be found watching musicals, trying new food spots, hiking in Gatineau Park or running big ideas by her dog, Mila.
- Inspired and enchanted by summer months spent on a remote Georgian Bay island in her youth, Pat's connection to nature is deep and reverent. From adventures by bicycle through Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, to kayaking/canoeing adventures in remote parts of BC and Ontario, hiking adventures in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, the travel bug has become a symbiotic part of Pat's life. In between travel adventures Pat began her career as a teacher in 1980 teaching swimming while completing her degree in Physical and Health Education at the University of Toronto. In 1988 her career in public school education began in Waterloo Region and has included teaching children from Kindergarten to grade 10 in Toronto, Waterloo, Australia and Essex County. Pat's 3 sons arrived into an adventuresome family and quickly engendered similar co-conspiratorial playful natures as their parents. There is a story people remind her of often about an apple not falling far from a tree!! Pat has occupied roles of learn and play-at home mom, music educator and small business owner (Kindermusik), Montessori Music and Movement teacher, Waldorf teacher education and Remedial teacher, Forest and Nature School Practitioner, and now Executive Director of Natural Pathways Learning Centre. Pat has come almost full circle to deepening her connection to nature, recognizing the inextricable link between nature and well-being, while still connecting with her love of teaching and children. Pat is excited about the next chapter, working with the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada Forest School Practitioner Course Facilitation Team as a life-long learner.
- Anne Azucena is a social justice facilitator focused on PilipinX liberation, a weaving artist and healer. She is based in the territory of Treaty 7, the Blackfoot Confederacy Moh’kíns’tsis. Her unique experience as a second generation Pilipinx-Canadian has made her passionate about being intentional in acting as a bridge in cultivating community healing in the diaspora and the land. Their journey towards re-claiming and re-membering ancestral ways of healing are rooted in understanding the PilipinX community as Uninvited Visitors on Turtle Island. Azucena continues to find ways in which community can work towards our relation to the land and how we can heal the community and land together.
- Jacqueline spent most of her childhood in the wilderness of British Columbia and has been returning to nature recreationally all her life. She is an avid hiker, yogi and has an enthusiastic, compassionate personality. She was born in Calgary, Alberta, but has lived across Canada and has an intimate, personal connection with our land. She identifies as Nehiyawak (Plains Cree), and has a strong connection with her British and French settler heritage in Newfoundland. She is an active member of the Kahkewistahaw First Nation Band, Treaty 7, located in South-Central Saskatchewan. She currently resides in the unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq and Beothuck in Corner Brook, Western Newfoundland.
Jacqueline is a registered Early Childhood Educator and delivers developmentally appropriate emergent curriculum for children ages 0-12. Jacqueline is also a registered Yoga Teacher, specializing in Vinyasa, Restorative, and Children's Yoga. To enrich her approach, she integrates a mix of traditional yogic practices and Indigenous philosophy into every aspect of her work. Jacqueline founded Sapling Forest School in Corner Brook in 2018. This program brings young children into the forest to learn and grow through play. Its mission is to provide a supportive environment to foster the wellbeing, health and growth of all who wish to connect with nature.
- Lise began her career at camps in Manitoba as an outdoor educator and guide. In 2006, Momenta was founded to meet a need in Manitoba to provide year-round, accessible therapeutic adventure programming that meets best practice and is research-based. Lise completed a Bachelor of Recreation in 2001, a Masters of Social Work in 2007 at the University of Manitoba, a Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy in 2012, and the Forest School Practitioner training in 2015. Lise combines these areas of practice to provide clinical direction, facilitate groups and counsel individuals both in urban and wilderness environments with a focus on physical and emotional safety, successful participation, fun, meaningful play and group cohesion. Lise also sits on the boards of Manitoba Green Retrofit and the Association for Experiential Education. Lise is the lead instructor for Momenta’s Foresthood programs in Winnipeg (experiencemomenta/foresthood) and is proud to be a part of the CNAC team to mentor Forest School Practitioners and advocate for outdoor play and learning experiences in Canada.
- Cindy is a Home Childcare Provider who gets to experience on a daily basis the transformative experience of children given space and time outdoors. She has an ECE background, a degree in Psychology, and many years of experience in multiple childcare settings. The Forest and Nature pedagogy is a natural and intuitive fit for her personal philosophy of Childcare. She lives and works in Ottawa, unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
Spending time outdoors has always been the best part of life for Cindy. A believer in always learning, always growing, she is excited to be part of Child and Nature Alliance of Canada to share the same path of growth and discovery with likeminded people. Cindy is the proud grandmother of four children and a mother of three. She loves to travel and enjoys photography. Her ultimate experience is to photograph her grandchildren while sharing a travel adventure together!
- Hannah is a Settler Canadian, living, learning, growing, and playing on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people and many diverse Indigenous peoples. She identifies as a lifelong learner, and has long admired the outdoors having grown up near the forests and bodies of water near Georgian Bay, Ontario. Play and nature have always been a large part of her life and when she finished Teacher's College and her Masters of Education, she sought to support children, families, and fellow educators in learning, growing, and thriving outside. In 2017, she eagerly began her work as a Forest School Educator at the Ottawa Forest and Nature School (OFNS), wherein she witnessed and participated in what can only be called, *magic*. At OFNS, the importance of children learning and connecting through play on the land filled her with warmth, love, and purpose. She feels strongly that unstructured, and uninterrupted play on the land needs to be cherished and amplified, especially during these unpredictable times. Hannah is eager to share her passion for outdoor play, while also becoming a better educator and person by digging deep into challenges. She feels incredibly grateful to learn with & from the Facilitation Team at CNAC.
- Diana grew up on the outskirts of Ottawa. Many years of family camping and exploring nearby nature resulted in her wanting to protect it and led her to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies (Waterloo). The desire to share this knowledge with others then guided her to complete a degree in Education (Lakehead). She completed the Forest and Nature School Practitioner’s Course in 2017.
After 25 years of teaching, Diana has now retired from the provincial education system to begin a new adventure as the chief educator and director of the Parry Sound Forest School. Her home and forest school facility are on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe people who still live in the six first nations North and South of Parry Sound, most notably Wasauksing First Nation. Diana hopes that her program can act as a small step in the big picture of reconciliation between settlers and first peoples in her area.
This Forest School program is in its infancy, but is already having a big impact on the local community as more and more children and families take advantage of their programs.
It is Diana’s hope, that as a Shadow Facilitator she can more fully develop her skill set, both to help improve her own practise, and to allow her to more effectively reach other educators within local school boards so they can feel more comfortable taking their children outdoors.
- Megan is a settler Canadian of Northern European descent living in the beautiful province of Québec. Megan has had the great privilege of exploring many of Canada’s landscapes throughout her lifetime, being born in Halifax, growing in small towns on the prairies, spending some years on Vancouver Island and playing in the rockies in Calgary before finally settling on the unceded territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka, Tiohtià:ke, (what many of us refer to as Montréal) in 2011.
Megan has been working outdoors with children in urban parks for many years, as Program Coordinator and Educator at The Lion and The Mouse (Le lion et la souris) and more recently in a non-profit organization in her home neighbourhood of Verdun in the Southwest of Montreal. She spends her mornings playing outside in local green spaces with children and their families, splashing in puddles, building snow forts, or observing birds and ducks along the river. Outside of her paid employment, Megan spends her time wandering, climbing, and splashing around the streets and parks of her neighbourhood with her toddler, or embarking on bigger adventures with the whole family throughout Québec’s incredible network of parks, be it hiking, biking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing, or simply hanging out in nature. She feels the most at peace when active and outdoors, and is so glad to have had the opportunity to complete the Forest and Nature School Practicioner’s Course some years ago and now work with the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada as a Shadow Facilitator. Megan is fluent in English, French, and Spanish.
- Chloe is a young Metis woman from the small northern city of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Of Chipewyan and European heritage, she grew up close to her Indigenous cultural values and learned traditional skills for living on the land. This northern upbringing shaped her values today.
Chloe holds a degree in Earth Science from the University of Victoria. While educated in Science, she is keenly interested and has found her niche in working with people on the social/cultural benefits of the natural world. Connecting people with Nature is important to Chloe because she loves the land and cares about conservation - but most of all, she wants to bring the wonderful feelings she's had outdoors to others. We are all part of Nature, and so spending time outdoors brings us a lot of balance. By helping to create balanced, happy people we can accomplish many societal goals, even beyond conservation.
- Tricia grew up in the forests and gardens of North Vancouver, where she remembers playing in the blossoms of the cherry tree in her garden and tucking herself under the fern fronds in her school grounds. She has had the privilege to live in the Lynn Creek watershed for her entire life. Her ancestors come from the UK, France, and Germany, and she is a settler on Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam lands.
Tricia's educational background is in geography, literature, permaculture, and ecological restoration. While she came to nature-based learning from an ecological perspective, wanting to encourage children to connect more deeply to the land, she has become more and more inspired by the ways in which land-based and emergent learning practices honour every child. She loves the way that forest school brings together children and adults in an interconnected and compassionate community.
Tricia has been playing and learning with children outdoors since 1995 at the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre. She co-founded the Fresh Air Learning forest school in 2010, and she is currently the program director. She enjoys the rich dialogue, play, and reflection that emerge from participants in the Forest School Practitioner's Course and looks forward to the learning opportunities that each course brings for participants and facilitators alike.
- Chris has been teaching and learning in the outdoors for many moons. As a kayak guide, youth worker, teacher, researcher and university instructor he has demonstrated passion and proven commitment to ensuring outdoor environmental education has a prominent place in the curricular landscape. He is currently as an adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria while coordinating curriculum development and instructing within the Forest & Nature School Practitioners’ Course. Chris holds a Masters in Education from OISE/UofT (cross disciplinary- Adult Education/Environmental Studies) and a PhD in Educational Studies from UVic. His two daughters keep him on his nature toes, allowing him to hone his skills and knowledge in how nature contributes to childhood development, learning, wellbeing and fun!
- Margaret is an outdoor play advocate, working, living and playing on the island of Tiohtià:ke, known to many as Montréal. In 2013, she co-founded The Lion and The Mouse, a non-profit committed to children's right to outdoor play in the city, where she continues to bring Forest School and Playwork principles to her work as the General Coordinator. As a child, she lived on Vancouver Island where, after a bumpy start to school, she connected with the land as a way to engage in relationships and processes that grow and change with us. She is the mother of a neurodivergent family of 4 and has a keen interest in exploring the intersections of outdoor play, the right to the city, and disability.
- Mitsuki B. Fujimoto is an Early Childhood Educator who is also a Visual Artist/Graphic Designer. She was born in Tokyo & spent her childhood in the inter-city parks, forests & the ocean(Kanagawa, Japan). At the young age of 12, she traveled & studied in places such as Thailand, Australia, India, US & UK. Also receiving education from alternative schooling. She has led art & nature-based programs at schools & childcare centres, facilitating youth/family functions & community events with the NPOs, local BIAs & city councils. As an educator, her mission is to co-create a learning environment with children & families where we develop our own minds & voices to live wisely in a sustainable society.
- Charlotte grew up in Victoria, BC, clambering over rocky beaches with her parents and three younger brothers. Ever curious about how people connect to each other and to the world around them, she completed a combined degree in Biology, Geography, and Religious Studies at Mount Allison University followed by a Bachelor’s of Education at the University of Victoria. In 2015, Charlotte completed CNAC’s Forest and Nature School Practitioner’s Course and in so doing, she co-founded West Coast Forest School - an extracurricular program for children ages 4-10.
Charlotte now works primarily as a substitute-teacher-by-choice in K-12 classrooms, with additional time spent in Montessori pre-schools, extracurricular forest school programs, and as a facilitator for CNAC’s professional development courses. Her practice is shaped by the Circle of Courage philosophy and a deep belief in the educative power of free play.
At present, Charlotte lives in Whitehorse, Yukon.
- Monika’s experience with land and land-based education is unconventional, which also describes much of her life. With Russian and Nigerian origins, formative years in Montreal where she also learnt French, adulthood (mostly) in Toronto, and having travelled to many parts of the world, Monika identifies as a multilingual global citizen, without an attachment to a particular land. She also grew up in very urban environments and can count on 1 hand the number of camping/canoe/cottage trips she has taken. All the while, Monika has always enjoyed being outdoors, on and with land in its varying natural forms. When the COVID pandemic hit, Monika, a mother of 3 young kids, started turning to the land regularly, with her children, as a mental health strategy. This led to an emergence of something deep within her, that she hadn’t realized was present, that included a sense of peace and relationship with land and a strong desire to share that with others. So, as a Black woman, as someone whose work and life has been strongly tied to equity, inclusion, and social justice, and as an experienced facilitator, she jumped at the opportunity to join CNAC as a way to claim her rightful space in the world of ‘outdoor education.’ Monika also has a BA (Hons.) in Kinesiology and Health Science and her MPH in Health Promotion and Community Development. She is curious and multi-passionate, and this work is among other work that she does to facilitate connection, community-building, and conversations, in the name of individual and social transformation.
- Wendy was born in Burlington, Ontario to a Polish mother and a Cape Breton, Nova Scotia father. She is lucky to have 3 brothers and sisters. As a non-Indigenous resident on Yellowknives Dene Land, Chief Drygeese territory, Treaty 8, Wendy feels very fortunate to call Yellowknife home since 2005. Her and her husband Mike Palmer have two young kids, Charlie and Pippa, who keep them very busy and humbled their curiosity and capabilities. With a background in physical and health education and science, Wendy has been an outdoor educator and teacher for many years. She is currently an educator at the Yellowknife forest and nature school called Bushkids and is also a part time instructor at Aurora College. Wendy is completely inspired by shifting the balance of power to the children because they shine when they feel empowered to direct their day or create their own knowledge. She is honoured to witness the development of lasting relationships between children, the land and themselves.
- Par ces actions, ces relations et sa reconnaissance collective des peuples autochtones, Chantal s’identifie comme une «alliée». Pour elle, être une alliée est un processus qui durera toute sa vie et qui sera enraciné dans ses actions quotidiennes.
Since 1997, Chantal has been teaching in the french public school board in Ottawa, the CEPEO. Convinced that every child is competent and most of all curious, she uses inquiry-based learning to enhance her students' learning experiences both in and outside of the classroom.
De 2013 à 2015, elle a participé au projet ministériel de l’Ontario afin d’approfondir les pratiques nécessaires pour la mise en oeuvre de l’apprentissage par l’enquête dans la salle de classe. Aussi, elle a participé à l'élaboration de plusieurs ressources sur l’enquête en autre Curiosité naturelle, édition 1 et 2.
Passionately curious and always on the conquest to learn, you will always see her with a new pedagogical resource in her hand. Loving nature and inquiry based learning, it was an obvious choice for her to explore land and play based in her pedagogy and to join Forest School Canada team.
- Mavis has worked in the early childhood education field in Manitoba for more than 35+ years, and has been mentoring educator since 1990, a role she finds very rewarding. Throughout her career she has been passionate about getting children and the adults who engage with them active outside. She is a founding board member of the Manitoba Nature Summit and from the moment she heard about Forest School she knew this was the movement she was looking for and now works as a course assessor with outdoor educators across Canada.
- Julie found her love for the natural world when, as a child, she moved from wandering the open fields and forests of Northern Ontario to the big city of Ottawa. To fill the void this change had left, she joined the scout movement and has since been involved as a leader. Through different experiences with the scouts, Julie has come to discover the magic that comes with connecting children with nature. After finishing her B.Ed, Julie went on to l’Université Laval to study the development of children’s environmental sensitivity influenced by their time spent in nature. She has since worked as a teacher in Nunavik and Ontario, gardening with kids and working to create a sense wonder for the natural world. In 2016, Julie has set up a Forest School program for all students attending École élémentaire et secondaire publique Rivière Rideau. She is now coordinating this program, all the while mentoring other teachers in the school to integrate Forest school principles in their all around teaching practice. Julie is also passionate about developing forest school resources in French and hopes to, one day offer workshops for french speaking educators.
- Growing up camping, paddling and playing in the woods, lakes and rivers of Eastern Ontario, Carly is often found outside wandering the landscape being curious with whoever she is with - her own two boys or a group of eager children or adults. Carly believes our human resilience is strengthened from meeting our edges through contact with ourselves and being willing to lean in a little bit more. The wildness is the perfect place to meet edges, to discover who we are and our place in the fabric of life.
Nature’s influence lead Carly to pursue degrees in GeoScience, Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism and a Bachelor of Education. She has travelled many hills and valleys around the world, lead wilderness trips, created her own forest and nature school program in the Madawaska Valley, and supported schools in Renfrew County to encourage nature based play and learning in their school yards and surrounding wild spaces. Carly is currently working as a supply teacher with the Renfrew County School Board as well as facilitating CNAC Practitioner Courses, where she seeks to incorporate her skills as a nature mentor inspiring others to deepen their own connection.
- Noureen was born and raised in Pakistan. She has been privileged to serve academic and not-for-profit institutions in Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Canada. As a facilitator, researcher and community leader, Noureen is continuing to avail volunteering and professional opportunities to serve people of diverse age groups and cultures. She aspires to capitalize on her professional qualification (M.Ed.) and personal experiences of regaining her well-being through nature while helping others re-establish harmony with the Earth. Noureen strongly believes that her deep reflection and strong observation skills have enabled her life-long and self-directed learner. Skills learned while spending childhood in nature. She trusts that by utilizing these skills one can connect to the inner self, an entire universe of its own, and knowing oneself can help find the purpose as humans. Noureen hopes to help human beings regain their connection to nature and their inner self. Noureen is proud to be a member of the CNAC family and is excited to make the best out of this opportunity.
- Laura Molyneux is the co-founder of Cloudberry Forest School in St. John's, NL. She is a Level IV ECE with a diploma in Early Childhood Education and a BA in Sociology/Psychology. Before Cloudberry she worked in strengths based family interventions, inclusion supports, operated a municipal pre-school and after school program and taught in the department of Child and Youth Care Work at a local community college. Growing up in Newfoundland she developed a taste for the salt-sea air and spent as much time as she could exploring the woods, bogs and cliffs of the East Coast. She started her journey into Forest School almost by accident or happy coincidence when the importance of risky play and individualized learning became very evident through a simple 15 minute outdoor based play program. From there she was introduced to the concepts of Forest School, Forest School Canada and Cloudberry's co-Founder Nora Trask. Laura's passions extend beyond just teaching the kids however as she loves to teach fellow educators and ECE students about risky play, brain development, emergent curriculum and of course Forest School!
- Tanya grew up in both urban and rural spaces climbing trees, mucking about in Ontario ravines and exploring on wilderness trips with her older brother. A dog (and now 2 nature-loving children) often by her side, she seeks out adventure and connection with the land and has always let her heart lead the way. With a background in Kinesiology and Outdoor Education from McMaster University, Tanya has worked in the outdoors as a wilderness guide, adventure education facilitator, and spent 5 years at an independent school servicing vulnerable Toronto youth. A BEd from the University of Toronto took her on a new path to ensure nature connection was accessible to all, especially in the public-school system. Tanya has been working with an Ontario school board for over 13 years and loves to learn alongside others in, around and for the environment in both conventional and alternative settings. She has taught in all divisions including a term at one of the board’s Outdoor Education Centre where she led a Ministry Pilot focused on Environmental Inquiry. Drawn to inquiry, placed-based education, and the pedagogy of Forest School, Tanya champions collaborative, transformative, responsive environments that support student voice and belonging. Over the past five years, Tanya has focused on these passions to meet educators where they are in order to shift mindsets and inspire learning - outside. Tanya recently shifted to system leadership role and supports Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Learning K-12.
- Parisa is an Iranian-Canadian living, working, and playing on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, the Métis Nation (Region 3), and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta. Her journey as an educator started with teaching English and Swedish to people of all ages in Iran. Since then, she has found meaning in community and connecting people to the natural world, as she believes it is crucial for our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our beautiful planet Earth.
Her passion for the environment started in the woods in Sweden, where she grew up. Later in life, it led her to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science, followed by a Master's degree doing research on modelling long-term ice sheet changes to understand the stability of Greenland Ice Sheet in a warmer world from the University of Calgary.
In her free time, she takes joy in doing yoga, skiing, swimming, and many other activities outdoors. She also paints, reads, and enjoys writing poetry.
- Kay Rasmussen is a mixed race woman of Mi'Kmaq, Acadian, and European descent. Kay lives in Wauzhushk Onigum unceded territory within Treaty Three, now known as Kenora, Ontario with her family. Kay holds a Masters of Education for Change in Sustainability and Environmental Education from Lakehead University. In addition, Kay is a Teacher, Registered Early Childhood Educator, Montessori Teacher, and Forest School Practitioner. Professionally, Kay is a Professor of Early Childhood Education at Manidoo Baawaatig 7 Generations Education Institute, a community-based researcher focusing on ethical space, and the founder of Boreal Forest School. Kay is passionate about intercultural frameworks within early years education that work to centre and preserve Land as Indigenous.
- Sinéad Rafferty is a Registered Early Childhood Educator and Forest School Practitioner with a Masters of Environmental Studies and a Graduate Diploma in Environmental and Sustainability Education. Her graduate research focused on pedagogies for childhood, nature and place in early childhood education, which was selected for the Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Series for the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Deeply inspired by models of Forest Schools as a form of transformative education, Sinead is moved by the momentum of forest school approaches that are rippling across Canada. Since completing her masters, Sinéad facilitates professional learning experiences on topics related to environmental education, ecological literacy and outdoor, nature-based play in early childhood. Sinéad is passionate about naturecultures of play and learning that nurtures child-educator-land worldmaking among Toronto’s urban ravine ecologies. When Sinead is not playing outside with children in her preschool and forest school programs, she is playing outside with friends and loved ones on canoe and kayak trips or encountering the nooks and crannies of Toronto’s riverscapes by boots or bicycle.
- Rebecca’s love of the land started on a sprawling home farm with woods and water in Elora, Ontario. Passionate about passing on that love to others, Rebecca’s work with children and families is ultimately about connection - connecting to ourselves, to each other, and to the earth. Living in places like India, Indonesia, Benin, France, and Costa Rica has deepened her appreciation for the diverse natural world and for the immensity of all that we can learn from each other. Rebecca came to forest school through an interest in outdoor experiential education, and from teaching Kindergarten at a Waldorf-inspired primary school. She feels honoured now to run Kitchener Forest School, and partners with the City of Kitchener to dream up programs and facilitate learning with children ages 3-12, and with Kindergarten classes in local school boards. Each season brings new surprises, new wonders, new questions. Alongside the children and leaders in her groups, Rebecca digs into the ecological landscape through exploration, imaginative story, open-ended play, boisterous games, and quiet moments by the pond.
- Juwain grew up in a rural setting with the freedom and encouragement to play and explore outdoors. Juwain developed a deep connection to the land at an early age and has made a career out of connecting adults and children to nature. After obtaining a degree in International Development and Environmental Science from Trent University, Juwain began her journey in West Africa connecting communities to the land through education. Juwain then obtained her Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University. Juwain continued to help people nurture their relationship to the land, as a naturalist with the Ministry of Natural Resources, as a classroom teacher, and an outdoor education instructor.
Juwain is currently the Program Site Administrator for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board Outdoor Education Centres. Juwain oversees the development of inquiry-based, curriculum-linked, outdoor education programming for teachers and students in Ottawa area schools. Juwain supports the outdoor education centre staff, classroom teachers, and students daily, so they are comfortable using the outdoors as their classroom. When not in the forest at the outdoor education centres, Juwain can be found cycling, skiing, and gardening on her hobby farm east of Ottawa.
- Tiiu is first generation Canadian, of British and Estonian descent. She is a mother and lives with her family in Southern Ontario, in the land of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and Huron-Wendat, in the land of the First Peoples of the Williams Treaty.
Tiiu is an educator and an artist. She currently works in the elementary public school system, and is committed to engaging students with the natural world on a daily basis. She also has over two decades experience writing and performing songs. She continues to create and share songs that support children and communities connecting to the land. You can find this work at www.landheartsong.com.
Tiiu is committed to developing knowledge and understanding of the culture and history of the Indigenous Peoples of this land, and of marginalized peoples she shares this land with. She believes all humans should have access and opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with the land, and is committed to learning and advocating to make that change happen in her community and work.
- Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth.
- Tesicca Truong 張慈櫻 Trương Từ Anh (she/her/hers) grew up on the shores of the Salish Sea, on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Peoples. As the daughter of refugees and immigrants to this country, she first fell in love with the great outdoors on summer road trips with her family. Outdoor education played a pivotal role in shaping her world view and her life's work.
Tesicca is a sustainability educator, an anti-oppressive community builder, and a serial changemaker. She is a co-founder of CityHive, the Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference, and Vancouver Youth4Tap Coalition. For her work, she has been named on Top 30 under 30 by the North American Association of Environmental Educators and Corporate Knights.
Tesicca loves spending time swimming in the ocean, climbing in the mountains, longboarding in the city, and exploring the woods.
- Jamie is a settler Canadian who arrived in this country with his family at the age of two, after being born in Bavaria, Germany. He now lives and explores with his family on Treaty 1 territory, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His ties to both Germany and the Interlake region of Manitoba have instilled in him a fondness for all that is possible in the hinterlands.
The main focus of Jamie's work is connecting people with nature, with themselves and with each other, through nature. He is dedicated to helping develop creative opportunities for child led outdoor education and relationship building across cultures, hoping to contribute to the process of truth and reconciliation as people learn together on the Land.
He is excited to be part of this journey with the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, as part of the facilitation team for practitioners course offerings in Manitoba!
- Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth.
- Ian grew up in North Vancouver and has fond memories of an outdoor childhood where he was free to play and roam.
In 2011, Ian became President and CEO of Community Foundations of Canada. During his leadership, he embraced CFC's ‘all for community’ vision and mobilized its diverse network to address complex community issues across our country. Ian also played an integral role in founding and incubating the Rideau Hall Foundation, as its first Executive Director.
A two-time Olympian in field hockey, Ian is well known in the sport community for his ability to bring groups together to affect change. He lives with his family in Chelsea, Quebec where he dedicates himself to his community. He founded and coaches the Chelsea Phoenix Field Hockey Club.
- Aron is the father of four girls and enjoys sharing his love of backpacking, kayaking, hiking and swimming with them. When he’s not pursuing outdoor adventures, he practices law as a Career Partner at Carfra Lawton LLP. He is also the past president of Congregation Emmanu-El and former director of the BC Water Polo Association.
- Dr. Brussoni is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. She is also a scientist with the Child and Family Research Institute and the BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit. Trained as a developmental psychologist, Mariana investigates child injury prevention, parents’ perceptions of children’s risk engagement and safety, the influence of nature-based challenging play on child health and development, and promoting developmentally appropriate opportunities for children’s risky play. Mariana enjoys putting her research into practice while hanging out with her family, enjoying the beautiful BC outdoors and travelling to far off places.
- Jennifer Garrett graduated summa cum laude from the University of Ottawa with Bachelor of Commerce Honours and went on to earn her Graduate Certificate in European Management from École Supérieure de Commerce Rouen.
Her professional experience has spanned diverse industries including construction, high tech, outdoor recreation and the charitable sector, earning her a reputation as tenacious solutions-oriented and people-focused business leader. After 10 years as the Director of Finance and Operations with Power To Be, Jenn is applying principles of inclusion and well-being as a Workplace Health Planning Consultant with the BC Public Service. She is provides consulting and health promotion services to support psychological safety and cultures of health to a broad spectrum of ministries.
- Patrice Hall is an accomplished business strategist. Through her aptly named consulting business — The Hallway, she works with busy CEOs, Chief Digital Officers, and Communications Directors to build and execute successful strategies so they can achieve their targets. Her work often involves large-scale digital modernization projects and/or improving the design of digital products and services. She likes working on problems that sit at the intersection of people, design, technology and analytics. Patrice is an ardent nature lover. She spends 60-90 minutes immersed in the woods each day and says she’s the ``best version of herself” when she remains in close contact with the natural world. Patrice loves swimming, skiing, paddling, and cycling with her husband James and their two dogs Rags and Chico.
- Lesley is the Director of Corporate Services for Community Foundations of Canada (CFC). She has over 20 years of financial administration experience in the high-tech, manufacturing, and non-profit sectors.
During her time with CFC, she has been responsible for all financial reporting as well as overseeing HR, IT, and property management. She was also part of the incubation team that helped to create and run Rideau Hall Foundation over a four-year period.
Lesley lives in Stittsville with her husband and four children. She has seen first hand the importance of learning through play and getting outside to experience nature.
- Ian is a Professor and the Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Obesity in the Kinesiology and Public Health departments at Queen’s University. His research focuses on the health benefits of being active and the social determinants of physical activity for children and youth. He has published more than 200 scientific papers in these topic areas. His recent work includes a focus on outdoor and risky play.
Ian enjoys thinking about and building the kinds of neighbourhood features that are important for childhood play. He even took on a project to revamp the play space at his children's school. He relishes opportunities to translate research into useful and practical knowledge products to effect societal change and we're grateful that he can help us with that.
- Through her work at Parks Canada, Dominique strives to enhance public appreciation and engagement towards protecting nature. Her previous role as Natural Sciences officer at the Canadian Commission for UNESCO had also allowed her to lead the development of original collaborations towards this goal by supporting the sharing of knowledge and perspectives among Indigenous Peoples, artists, academia, youth and governments. Some of her highlights include the leadership she provided towards #NatureForAll, the IUCN 2016 World Conservation Congress, Biosphere Reserves, and the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Her passion towards (re)conciliation among nations has driven her involvement in Students on Ice, l’Univer Cité Libre, and implementation of the Haisla Nation – Rio Tinto Alcan Legacy Agreement.
Her training includes a B.A. in Geography/Environmental Studies, a Masters in Public Management , certification from the International Association of Public Participation, and an upbringing spent over 4 continents. She lives in Gatineau. Québec, and enjoys being an aunt, spending time in or on water, and harvesting wild foods to share with loved ones.
- Since 2013, Karen has held the reins as the Executive Director of Wesley Clover Parks, the flagship project of the Wesley Clover Foundation. Karen oversees all operations, activity and development at Wesley Clover Parks. Wesley Clover Parks is an outdoor recreation and learning hub that helps people connect with nature and the great outdoors in Canada’s National Capital Greenbelt.
Wesley Clover Parks was established in 2014 when the Wesley Clover Foundation took over the operations of the former Nepean National Equestrian Park and the adjacent Ottawa Municipal Campground.
With its deep community roots — Wesley Clover Parks — will grow into one of Ottawa’s robust community destinations where residents and visitors will enjoy the rural setting, the trails and the opportunities for all-season outdoor recreation, learning and sports.
Karen’s vision is also to see Wesley Clover Parks deliver a sustained and positive economic impact to the Nation’s Capital, by attracting tourists, competitors and sports teams from around the world. People from all across Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia have already chosen Wesley Clover Parks Campground as a holiday destination while enjoying the sites and activities of the region.
The Wesley Clover Foundation is committed to the evolving Wesley Clover Parks into a vibrant international hub that is recognized for World-Class Equestrian events, Nordic Skiing trails and facilities; and where the elite sports competitors meet, compete and learn about nature and how to sustain its beauty.
- Brett Tackaberry is a digital solutions professional and CTO for Rebel.com, a domain name registrar and hosting company. Outside of work, he help out with a variety of initiatives around Ottawa with a focus on community building, education and helping kids. In addition to participating on the board for CNAC, Brett is: a founding member of Tech4Good Ottawa; the lead for Random Hacks of Kindness, a hackathon for social good; and a co-founder and lead for Mustaches for Kids, a fundraising initiative for Make a Wish. He has a side business including an app for landlords and a vinyl record company. Brett lives in Ottawa with his family of two boys, Emmett and Cole, and wonderful wife Anne. On the weekends you can find him in the garden, the garage or watching the boys play from the comfort of an Adirondack chair.