Families in Canada Satellite Regional Conference

Families in Canada Conference, 2019. A satellite location in Guelph, Ontario is being co-hosted by the Live Work Well Research Centre at the University of Guelph

Date and Time



Peter Clark Hall, University of Guelph


Families in Canada Conference

On March 27 & 28, 2019, in Ottawa, Ontario, the Vanier Institute of the Family will host a pan-Canadian conference with simultaneous satellite regional conferences. One of these regional conferences is co-hosted by the Live Work Well Research Centre at the University of Guelph. Read about our local panels and panelists.

The Centre will host panel sessions each morning, and will live-stream the keynote and plenary sessions held in Ottawa in the afternoon. The broad theme of this year’s conference is THINK BIG: How can we use “Big Data” to inform and inspire big ideas to have a big impact on family well-being in Canada?

The cost of the event will include a pass to both days of the event, a light breakfast and lunch served at the event, and a reception at the University of Guelph. All activities included are outlined below in the agenda

Registration cost:

  • $125 for a registrant
  • $50 for military or veterans
  • $25 for students/unwaged/retirees

Don't forget to check out our facebook event, and click "going"!

 The agenda is detailed below. You can also download it. Note, that times with an asterisk (*) reflect sessions that will be live-streamed from the national conference in Ottawa.

March 27, 2019

Time Details

Arrive to Peter Clark Hall, University of Guelph; enjoy coffee, tea, pastries, and fruit


Welcome remarks


Care & Families Panel

Moderated panel discussion with questions


Health break


Food & Families Panel

Moderated panel discussion with questions


Lunch and health break


Welcome and greetings from Ottawa


Opening Remarks Nora Spinks, CEO, Vanier Institute of the Family


Opening Remarks by The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development


Opening Keynote by Anil Arora, Chief Statistician, Statistics Canada


Panel – Big Data Through a Family Lens


Reflections and discussions of the day's proceedings


Health break


Reception with light food and beverages; reception to be held in Brass Taps, 2nd Floor, University Centre, University of Guelph

Please note that this agenda is subject to change. All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

*These sessions will be live-streamed from the Ottawa Conference location.

March 28, 2019

Time Details

Arrive to Peter Clark Hall, University of Guelph; enjoy coffee, tea, pastries, and fruit


Work and Families Panel

Moderated panel discussion with questions


Health break


Well-being and Families Panel

Moderated panel discussion with questions


Lunch and health break


Welcome Day 2


Panel – Little Data Through a Family Lens


Conference summary and closing remarks

Please note that this agenda is subject to change. All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

*These sessions will be live-streamed from the Ottawa Conference location.

Browse the tabs below to explore our four key panel discussions:

  • Care + Families
  • Food + Families
  • Work + Families
  • Well-being + Families

Care + Families Panel

Most Canadians provide and/or receive care at some point in their life. Relationships are at the heart of care-providing and receiving. Caring relationships are complex and unique to diverse families. They are affected by regional, social and economic locations, among other often intersecting situations of race, class, family type among others.  These relationships are often left out of or made invisible by policy and decision-makers at all levels of government.

Fitsum Areguy Fitsum Areguy (Moderator): Fitsum is an MSc student in Family Relations and Human Development at the University of Guelph. Fitsum’s research interests focus on young carers, identity development and coping, and the intersections of caregiving, culture, and childhood among refugee families. He is the chair of the Young Carers Project, a community collaborative based in Kitchener, Ontario that is dedicated to raising awareness and mobilizing supports for young carers in Canada.
Portrait of Abbigail and Andrew

Andrew Wright-Gourlay (Panelist): I am 15 years old, and I have Tourettes and a mood disorder, I was diagnosed with tourettes at five, and a mood disorder at 13.  And my twin sister is Abbigail. I like to do a lot of things, like hiking with my dad and I also have a business for lawn care. I want to become a Professional chef too!

Abbigail Wright-Gourlay (Panelist): I am 15 years old, and I'm a young caregiver for my twin brother Andrew. I have been caring for him almost all my life. I've had a lot of experiences that some other young people probably have not been through in their life, but I have had many people help me, like my parents, and Powerhouse. I also enjoy astronomy, and would like to become a professional photographer.

John Beaton (Panelist): I am a father of three children; my youngest child has special needs. I conduct research with families with disabilities with a particular focus on fathers.
Sue Bhella (Panelist): Captivated by design & innovation, Sue brings 8+ years of experience working with healthcare providers, patients & caregivers to improve health & community care. With roots in eHealth, Sue joined The Change Foundation as a Senior Program Associate to support the coordination & implementation of improvement activities as per the Foundation’s strategic plan, including Changing CARE – an initiative to improve the caregiver experience. Aside from these roles, Sue was a young carer for eight years & is currently part of the sandwich generation caring for her elderly parents & young family.

More panelists being announced soon!

Food + Families Panel

While food is foundational to physical health, it also nourishes and strengthens bonds within and between families, communities and living environments, contributing to well-being. The recent release of Canada’s 2019 food guide highlights that cultures and food traditions are part of healthy eating; however, inequities among and across families and communities raise questions about access and food stability.

Headshot of Jess Haines Jess Haines (Moderator): Jess Haines, PhD, MHSc, RD is an Associate Professor of Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph. Dr. Haines’s research aims to bridge epidemiologic research on the determinants of health behaviours with the design, implementation, and evaluation of family-based interventions to support children’s healthy eating and growth.
Andrea Reed (Panelist): My daughter and I were one of the first families to join the Guelph Family Health Study in 2014, as part of the pilot phase of the study. In 2015, I joined the Study's Family Council, and have been involved in the study as both a participant and family council member since. I've enjoyed being able to provide some input, particularly with regards to study protocols and participant engagement. Using many channels, the study does a wonderful job of engaging participants and sharing useful information and research.
portrait of Krista Coventry Krista Coventry (Panelist): I am a member of the Parent Council of the Guelph Family Health Study, a long-term health study looking at healthy eating, activity and sleep habits in children and over their lifespan. In my own career, I work as a Regulatory Affairs Specialist in the Canadian Health Products Sector, helping to support companies in realizing the benefits of functional foods and nutraceuticals. I am also completing my PhD in Human Health & Nutritional Sciences with a Focus on Health Benefits and Consumer Perceptions of Natural Health Products.
Andrew Judge Andrew Judge (Panelist): Andrew who is Irish-Anishinaabe, is a professor and coordinator of Indigenous studies at Conestoga College. Recently, he has begun an intricate and spiralling Indigenous food garden on conservation land in Cambridge.


Work + Families Panel

Diverse forms of livelihood, through paid work, providing care, volunteering, community gardening, agriculture, artistry, trading or bartering, and fishing, among other types, provide families and communities with capabilities, assets and activities required to sustain life. Diverse forms of livelihood, and the relationships they often support, also provide important protection against stress and shock during unforeseen social or economic challenges. Livelihood participation depends on the degree to which opportunities are accessible and available to diverse ways of being for individuals and/or families.


Ruth Neustifter Ruth Neustifter (Moderator): Ruth's research is focused on using qualitative approaches to explore (1) intersectional experiences of those who are sexual or gender minorities, and/or who build non-traditional relationship structures and (2) the long term, relational resilience of trauma survivors. 
Thomas Sasso Thomas Sasso (Panelist): Thomas is a  PhD  candidate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the University of Guelph. His research is dedicated to understanding and improving the experiences of diverse and marginalized populations in workplaces, with particular emphasis on LGBTQ+ individuals. He co-founded the Sexual and Gender Diversity Research Lab with the goal of improving inclusive and accessible education and research. Thomas has focused his research and consulting on the integration of diverse roles and identities across life domains with the aim of fostering inclusive practices and spaces.
portrait of Skylar Sookpaiboon Skylar Sookpaiboon (Panelist): Skylar is an MSc student in Family Relations and Human Development at the University of Guelph. Their research is dedicated to understanding the experiences of trans and non-binary people navigating through the healthcare system. Taking a qualitative approach to challenging the complexities of gender identity and expression, Skylar is working towards fostering more inclusive and affirming spaces for anyone to access the resources and support they need for their health and wellbeing.
Tammy C. Yates (Panelist): Tammy C. Yates is the Executive Director of Realize. In 2015, she became the first black female Executive Director of a national organization in Canada’s HIV response, as well as among Canada’s national disability organizations. She has worked for over thirteen years in the field of program management. Prior to joining Realize, Tammy was the National Program Manager of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Trinidad & Tobago Branch Office. She has extensive experience in Gender & Development and Sexual & Reproductive Health.
Roz Vincent-Haven Roz Vincent-Haven (Panelist): My life purpose and passion is to work with others to build a society where everyone belongs, is empowered to contribute their unique gifts and provided with the supports necessary to have a full life in community. Currently, as a member of the OIFN board, I am focused on promoting a citizen directed framework of service delivery for those living with developmental disabilities. I am a retired minister of the United Church of Canada and in most circles I move in I am best known as Beth's Mom.

Well-being + Families Panel

Community well-being depends on the well-being of its families, but it is not always clear what well-being is, or what it feels and looks like to diverse forms of families. Policies and systems that affect families are often based on statistical data, which can erase and/or hide the unique and diverse experiences of families.


Carol Dauda (Moderator): My current research is centered on recent attempts to regulate young people's sexuality in liberal democracies comparatively. The study is aimed at understanding the role of the state in gender identity and in moral regulation historically and in contemporary politics. The research is focused on how powerful symbols of childhood in relation to adulthood are shaped by the recent legislation on the age of sexual consent in Canada, the UK, the US, and Australia in the midst of contentious politics over sexual diversity and child internet abuse, in particular, child pornography. 
Leah Levac: I am a mother, a dog-lover, and an outdoor enthusiast. I come from a rural area north of Kingston, ON. I am also a  community engaged scholar in the Political Science Department at the University of Guelph. I collaborate across disciplines, sectors, communities and Nations to address complex social problems and highlighting community strength, particularly related to intersections between wellbeing and citizen engagement. My relationships in this work are mostly with Indigenous and northern women and young women. Before coming to Guelph, I was serving as a city councilor in Fredericton, NB.
Ruth Cameron: Ruth Cameron is a PhD student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Community Psychology, and the Executive Director of the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Area (ACCKWA). She is also a member of the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS. Formerly, she worked as a Community-Based Research Facilitator at the Ontario AIDS Network. Ruth’s doctoral studies focus on intersectoral population health initiatives and using intersectionality as framework for interventions supporting equitable outcomes for marginalized communities impacted by HIV and intimate partner violence.
Sarah Haanstra (Panelist): Sarah is a community planner and researcher. She works for Toward Common (TCG), a local planning model that centralizes local data and supports community stakeholders to take collective action in response to shared needs. In her role with TCG, Sarah supported the development of a local wellbeing framework that is the foundation for all of TCG’s work. She is currently supporting the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Coalition of Guelph Wellington to work toward their vision of a resilient community that prevents and reduced the effects of ACEs. Sarah has an undergraduate honours BA in Psychology and a Master of Social Work.


Download the Agenda