Our family advisory council (the Family council) builds on the capacity of family members to improve child and youth mental health across Ontario as active decision makers and partners in our work. The Family council reflects our commitment to meaningful family engagement; we rely on family members' perspectives as well as integral input, expertise and guidance to ensure our policies, approaches, initiatives and other work are responsive to the evolving needs of families.

Member responsibilities

The purpose of the Family council includes:

  • advising on our strategic directions and activities
  • empowering family representatives to lead and inform key decisions in the development, implementation and evaluation of our initiatives
  • building meaningful, professional relationships between council members
  • augmenting the capacity of our family engagement team by acting as a mechanism for project support, when needed
  • ensuring alignment with our strategic advisory council through consistent family liaison representing both councils

Meet the Family council

The Family council consists of diverse family members from across the province.

Portrait of Ahnika Bruetsch

Ahnika Bruetsch

Ahnika is a life-long resident of Treaty #3, a program supervisor with the provincial government and mom to one human and one dog. She has lived experience supporting her sisters with navigating the child and youth mental health system in a rural and remote context. Ahnika is dedicated to advocating for access for young people in Northern Ontario and promoting equitable opportunities. She is vice-president of the Kenora Rainy-River Districts Child and Family Services Board and president of her wrestling club.

 

Portrait of Damion K. Nurse

Damion K. Nurse

Damion Nurse is a cake artist, owner of the award-winning Toronto-based bakery, Cinnabean cakes and former executive producer of the Canadian television series, ‘da Kink in my Hair. As the father of a teenage son who has experienced mental health challenges since early childhood, Damion has been closely connected with many mental health agencies and has previously served on several advisory committees devoted to child and youth mental health.

 

Portrait of Erica Schumacher

Erica Schumacher

Erica Shumacher is a senior policy analyst with the federal government and devoted mom to three boys. Her involvement was born of her own experiences seeking mental health services for her family and her firm belief that all children and young people deserve timely access to appropriate mental health care. Erica has also served on the board of Parents Lifeline of Eastern Ontario and she was a member of the Kids Come First mental health working group in 2019.

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Erin Legary

Erin Legary is a busy adoptive mom to twin boys who’ve required a variety of services within the school system and the community. She’s had to advocate to ensure her boys receive the services that best meet their needs, and now she’s enthusiastic about supporting other families’ mental health journeys. Erin is an early childhood educator and contributes to research projects on developmental trauma. In her spare time, she loves taking walks and spending time with her boys.

 

Portrait of Joe Holubowich

Joe Holubowich

Joe Holubowich works as a peer support facilitator for Parents’ Lifelines of Eastern Ontario (PLEO), does contract work for Able2 and is on his way to becoming a counsellor and psychotherapist. As a foster parent for two children who came into his care with undiagnosed mental health challenges, Joe has first-hand experience of navigating the mental healthcare system and advocating for services through the education system. He also currently sits as a board member for the Royal Ottawa Volunteer Association.

Portrait of Kelly-Lynn Musico

Kelly-Lynn Musico

Kelly-Lynn Musico is a physiotherapist, yoga teacher and mom to three young adults. Along with her lived experience as a family member in the child and youth mental health sector, Kelly-Lynn brings extensive experience in the hospital, home care, school and private sectors and a long track record as a dedicated volunteer. She currently contributes her voice to a national mental health research project and several family advisory councils at both the local and provincial levels.

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Kristy Allen

Kristy is a young caregiver and a knowledge equity specialist with Frayme. She holds a Master of Public Health with a concentration in social inequities in health. Kristy is passionate about knowledge mobilization and believes that community engagement is key to creating sustainable programs and services. She advocates for young people and caregivers to be key stakeholders in youth mental health system transformation. Based near Muskoka, Kristy is an avid hiker, skier and yogi. She’s often found with her sidekick, Moose the dog.​

 

Portrait of Leslie Kulperger

Leslie Kulperger

Leslie Kulperger has more than 20 years of experience in research, evaluation and management systems. She personally experienced significant gaps in mental health services while trying to access appropriate supports for her 11-year-old son at school and in the community. After he died by suicide in 2018, Leslie founded Myles Ahead in his memory, with the goal of leveraging her professional skills to create meaningful and measurable changes in the mental health and education sectors across Canada.

Portrait of Louise Murray-Leung

Louise Murray-Leung

Louise Murray-Leung is the family engagement lead at the Lynwood Charlton Centre. With a passion born of lived experience caring for loved ones with mental health challenges, Louise has played an important role in amplifying the family voice in child and youth mental health in Ontario. Notably, she was part of the advisory group that helped develop the quality standard for family engagement. She is also a volunteer peer leader with her local chapter of Parents for Children’s Mental Health.

Portrait of Sarah Hudson

Sarah Hudson

Sarah is a single mother of two young girls. She became passionate about advocating for children’s mental health when her eldest daughter received a diagnosis at a young age. In her extensive journey through the mental health system, Sarah has encountered many obstacles and barriers, especially after moving from a large city to a small town. She now sits on various committees through many provincial mental health organizations and is a parent support group leader through Parents for Children’s Mental Health (PCMH).

 

Portrait of Shannon McGavin

Shannon McGavin

Shannon McGavin is a system change leader dedicated to increasing wellness in rural communities across Canada. She has worked to enhance outcomes for children, young people and families in education for over 25 years. Throughout her own mental health challenges and supporting those she cares for, Shannon shamelessly advocates for mental health and substance use transformation on several local and provincial advisory boards, community health organizations, local integrated youth service organizations and in her own organization, The Well Community Collective.

 

Portrait of Stephen Sliwa

Stephen Sliwa

Stephen is an adjunct professor and faculty advisor with the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University. He recently completed his term as Director of Education and CEO at the Upper Canada District School Board, and is a former superintendent of Instruction, high school principal, special education teacher, guidance counsellor and teacher of Indigenous studies. Along with his experience working with students and families, Stephen brings experience seeking support for some of his children to the family advisory council.

 

Portrait of Vicki Cochrane

Vicki Cochrane

Vicki Cochrane is a busy mom of two sons with exceptions that require constant advocacy, resourcefulness and the ability to ask for support when needed. She is driven by the desire to bring a voice of families trying to navigate the child and youth mental health system and the hope of improving it. Vicki is passionate about community development and volunteerism. She also happens to be a child and youth worker with over 20 years of experience working for the Children's Aid Society.