Speakers 2022

Fae Johnstone

Fae Johnstone MSW (she/they)
Executive Director, Wisdom2Action
Twitter / Website / Instagram

Fae Johnstone, MSW, is a consultant, writer and activist with over 8 years of local and national involvement in 2SLGBTQ+, feminist and anti-gender-based violence advocacy. As the Executive Director of Wisdom2Action, she leads a diverse team undertaking local, provincial and national initiatives in the areas of 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion, mental health, children’s rights and violence prevention.


Sarah Minwanimad Funnell MD MSc CCFP FRCPC (she/her)
Founding Director
Centre For Indigenous Health Research and Education (CIHRE)
Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa


Dr. Funnell is a First Nations Family Physician and Public Health Specialist. Sarah is an Associate Medical Officer of Health at Ottawa Public Health and Director of Indigenous Health within the Department of Family Medicine at Queen’s University. Previously Sarah offered Primary Care services for refugees, immigrants, homeless and Indigenous people. Since March 2020, Sarah has directed her attention towards supporting the COVID-19 response and advancing Indigenous Health Medical Education.

After completing her medical school at the University of Ottawa (U of O), Dr. Funnell pursued her dual interests in family medicine and epidemiology through the five-year Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency Program at U of O. She received her Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CCFP) in 2015 and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2018.

Her background is Algonquin (Kitigan Zibi) and Tuscarora and grew up among the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation. Sarah is on the Board of Directors of both the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada and the Board of Directors of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. She is also on the Executive of the National Consortium for Indigenous Medical Education (NCIME). Sarah is past co-Chair of the Indigenous Health Committee at the CFPC and also sits on the Indigenous Health Advisory Committee at the Royal College. She is currently working with both colleges to improve Indigenous Health Curriculum in all residency programs. She lives in Ottawa with her husband and 3 daughters.

Keynote Panel
Grassroots, Community and Policy: Three Different Dimensions to Advocacy

Javeed Sukhera

Javeed Sukhera MD, PhD, FRCPC (he/him)
Chair of Psychiatry, Institute of Living
Chief of Psychiatry, Hartford Hospital
Associate Clinical Professor,
Department of Psychiatry,
Yale University School of Medicine

Twitter / Instagram

Dr. Javeed Sukhera is the Chair of Psychiatry at the Institute of Living and Chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. He is also an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Sukhera comes to Hartford HealthCare from Western University in London, Ontario, Canada where he held various clinical and academic leadership roles. He graduated from the University of Toronto and Ben-Gurion University and completed his residency and child/adolescent fellowship training at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. He completed his PhD in Health Professions Education from Maastricht University. He is an internationally recognized health professions education researcher. His research program explores novel approaches to addressing stigma and bias among health professionals and he has also been involved in advocacy and cross-sectoral work in education, policing, and community services. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Canadian Medical Association Journal and Deputy Editor of Perspectives on Medical Education.

Sara L. Austin

Sara L. Austin (she/her)
Founder and CEO
Children First Canada

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Sara is a world class champion for children, with more than 20 years of experience advocating for the rights of kids in Canada and on the global stage. As the Founder and CEO of Children First Canada, she leads a national movement to make Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up.

Sara’s work has taken her into the top circles of power in the United Nations, national governments, and boardrooms around the world, leading highly successful advocacy, public awareness and philanthropic campaigns and shaped major public policy efforts.

Her leadership has impacted the lives of millions of children. Most notably, she led a global campaign that resulted in the UN General Assembly adopting the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child for a Communications Procedure (OP3). This ground-breaking law allows kids or their advocates to hold governments accountable for violations of children’s rights, and is currently being used by Greta Thunberg and 15 of her peers in a complaint against their governments concerning their right to a sustainable future.

Sara also co-hosted the global children’s summit at the United Nations General Assembly’s Special Session for Children that brought more than 500 kids from every corner of the world to the UN Headquarters as official UN delegates for the first time in history to set ambitious goals for A World Fit for Children.

Closer to home, Sara has led the creation of the Canadian Children’s Charter – a plan by children, for children, to ensure the protection of their rights; launched the Young Canadians’ Parliament to give children a voice at the highest levels of government; and created the Raising Canada report, released annually to put a spotlight on the top 10 threats to childhood and mobilize Canadians to take action.

Sara has previously served as the CEO of the Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (formerly the Sheldon Kennedy CYAC), the Director of the President’s Office of World Vision Canada, and several global and national roles including serving on the UN’s Global Advisory Council on Violence Against Children. As a vocal advocate for kids, Sara Austin is a regular contributor to national media and is a go-to source for trusted and reliable information on the state of childhood in Canada.

In recognition of her leadership and impact, Sara has twice been awarded the Top 25 Women of Influence, and in 2017 she was the youngest person to be inducted into the Top 100 Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame. She is a finalist in RBC’s Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards and will soon be one of 100 inductees into the Government of Canada’s Women of Impact in Canada.

Sara holds an MSt/LLM with Distinction in International Human Rights Law from Oxford and an Honours BA in International Development and Women’s Studies from Dalhousie University. She has completed the Governance Essentials Program for Non-Profits with the Institute of Corporate Directors, the Maytree Foundation’s Public Policy Program and the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Partnerships Program.

Yanique Brandford

Yanique Brandford BSc Medical Physics, MSc Candidate BioMedical Physics
Founder & Executive Director
Help A Girl Out (HAGO)

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Yanique Brandford is the founder of Help A Girl Out (HAGO). She holds a BSc in Medical Physics and is completing her masters in Biomedical Physics at Ryerson/TMU University, where her area of research aims to improve medical imaging in proton therapy cancer treatment. She is a 3x entrepreneur, multi-medium artist, STEAM tutor and menstrual health advocate. Her struggle with period poverty began growing up in Jamaica and continued as a low-income student in Canada. She uses her experiences and that of her siblings and peers as a driving force behind her passion for her nonprofit organization, Help A Girl Out (HAGO), incorporated in 2018. Since 2020, HAGO has distributed hundreds of thousands of hygiene and menstrual product kits for the homeless, refugee, BIPOC and low-income communities in the Toronto GTA and beyond as the COVID-19 crisis had severely impacted Canadians, forcing many families below the poverty line and worsening the circumstances of those who were already there. She was awarded Global Citizen’s Canada’s Hero Award for her advocacy work through Help A Girl Out, the Viola Desmond award by TMU, the Brampton Board of Trade Community Impact Award & most recently the Toronto Youth Cabinet Youth Advocacy award. In March of 2021, HAGO was selected as a recipient of the GTAA’s Propeller project nest fund, through which she launched the reusable project where volunteers sew reusable pads that significantly impact the period poverty movement in Canada, supporting refugees and youth across the country, facilitating sewing classes and educating about sustainability. This is their most recent and impactful project to date and has promising potential to eliminate period poverty long-term in Canada & beyond.

Keynote Panel
Addressing Race Based Inequity in our Communities, Institutions and Policies

Ananya Tina Banerjee

Ananya Tina Banerjee PhD (she/her)
Assistant Professor,
School of Population and Global Health
McGill University

Twitter / Website / Linkedin / Publications

Dr. Ananya Tina Banerjee is Assistant Professor at the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupation Health, McGill University and member of SHERPA University Institute. Her interdisciplinary epidemiologic and qualitative research embeds a strong emphasis on community-based participatory pedagogy and research, which is grounded in collaboration and partnership with racialized communities. Often, the research questions she pursues are community-defined problems in the context of health equity and intersectionality funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, Social Science & Humanities Research Council and Public Health Agency of Canada. She developed and offered the first course on race and health in a school of public health in Canada. She is well known for her anti-racism and anti-oppression practice in the learning environment and providing critical mentorship for racialized students in public health programs. She won the 2022 FMHS Teaching Innovation Award recognizing her unique pedagogy for inclusive public health education and serves on The Lancet’s International Advisory Board for Racial Inequalities.

Caroline Tait

Caroline Tait PhD
Team Lead, International Indigenous Health Research and Training Network
University of Saskatchewan


Dr. Caroline Tait is a medical anthropologist with particular research interests in Indigenous health and social justice, and the challenges faced by women who are marginalized. She earned her MA at the University of California (Berkeley), and her PhD at McGill University. She has been a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Fellow at Harvard, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at McGill. In 2004, Dr. Tait returned to her home province of Saskatchewan to join the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre—a collaborative initiative involving the First Nations University of Canada, the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan. In 2012, Caroline became a member of Faculty at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan.

Kassia Johnson

Kassia Johnson MD FRCP(C) (she/her/elle)
Senior Medical Director Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Hamilton Health Sciences
Director of Anti-Racism and Inclusion,
Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University

Dr. Kassia Johnson is a Developmental Paediatrician, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at McMaster University. She provides clinical services through the Developmental Paediatric and Rehabilitation – Child Development Clinics at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, Bethesda Services in St. Catharines, Ontario and Canadian Mental Health Association/Guelph Wellington. Dr. Johnson recently took on the part-time position of Senior Medical Director EDI for Hamilton Health Sciences where she will work to move for the important healthcare equity agenda within the physician workforce at HHS.

Dr. Johnson is the Physician Lead for the Canadian Paediatric Society’s Antiracism Strategy and has been building along with five other racialized Pediatricians the Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC) at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH). Dr. Johnson has provided consultation to numerous Boards of Directors in Hamilton (YWCA, Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre) and across Ontario as well as participated in the development of numerous Medical Education resources about child development, neurodiversity and childhood adversity.

Dr. Johnson is a standing member of the CPS Early Years Task Force. Dr. Johnson worked as a consultant to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences as they developed the National Autism Strategy to provide a broader diversity lens to the report that will be presented to the Federal Government. In the future, Dr. Johnson will continue to work to dismantle the structural and institutional racism that impacts the health and wellbeing of our communities.


Raissa Amany

Raissa Amany (she/her/elle)
Co-Executive Director of Young Canadians Roundtable on Health
Health Sciences Student at University of Ottawa

Twitter / Linkedin

Raissa Amany (she/her/elle) is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa and is an aspiring healthcare provider. She is passionate about health equity, mental health, and youth engagement. Having personally seen how health inequity affects marginalized populations, Raissa continues to advocate for the improvement of accessibility and youth engagement within the pediatric healthcare sector. With her own experience navigating the complex medical system for her chronic illness, she is also passionate about disability inclusion practices in health policy and academia.

At the University of Ottawa, she is a research assistant with the Resilience and High-Risk Population Lab and a research member with the LIFE Research Institute. Raissa is also a youth advisory council member with the Knowledge Institute for Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions, a research partner with the Mental Health International Youth Advisory Committee (G1G) and CAMH, and a Groundbreaker with Frayme.

She is also the Co-Executive Director and project lead for multiple projects about child and youth health with the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health. Raissa is also the founder of ConnectSTEM and has held various leadership positions within the Ottawa community and beyond. Besides her advocacy work, she is also a public speaker at numerous events and conferences; providing her expertise and lived experience in child and youth health.

Sterling Renzoni

Sterling Renzoni (he/him)
Mental Health Advocate
Community / Campus Liaison,
Trent Active Minds

Sterling is currently a 3rd year biochemistry major at Trent University. He has always battled anxiety and perfectionism for as long as he can remember. In grade 9 of high school, these traits, combined with toxic fitness culture morphed into an eating disorder. Abrupt transitions, and superficial care, led Sterling to spend his high school years in and out of hospitals and outpatient treatment battling an eating disorder. When he finally received the intensive treatment he needed, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and he was forced to recover from his eating disorder with the added mental health challenges associated with the pandemic.

Throughout Sterling’s experience as a patient in the Ontario healthcare system, he was able to appreciate its strengths and where there was need for growth. Sterling knows firsthand the pain of battling debilitating mental illnesses, stigma and fighting to access the appropriate care. After recovering from his eating disorder, Sterling has channeled this pain into passion and became an established mental health advocate.

Sterling has continued to raise awareness about and advocate for those with mental illness, through Trent Active Minds, EDify Talks, The Stigma-Free Society, The Patient Advisory and Recovery Committee at Ontario Shores, Ontario Health, The Cleverly Lab, The Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Committee, The SickKids Foundation, The Yellow Tulip Project as well as various media outlets.

Sterling is committed to shaping the healthcare system and society in a direction where patients don’t need to battle the healthcare system and societal stigma in addition to their illness to get the supports, they need.

Sterling is a member of:

  • Patient Advisory and Recovery Committee – Ontario Shores
  • Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Council
  • Transitions from Youth to Adult Care Quality Standard Committee
  • Eating Disorder Quality Standard Committee