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Dr. Mariana Brussoni

Keynote Address
Dr. Mariana Brussoni is the Director of the Human Early Learning Partnership and Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. She is an investigator with the British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute and BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit. Mariana is a founding member and current board member of Outdoor Play Canada. Her research investigates child injury prevention and children’s risky play, focusing on parents’ and educators’ perceptions of risk, and design of outdoor play-friendly environments. Details can be seen at https://PlayOutsideUBC.ca

Laura Molyneux

Panelist on licensing of outdoor early childhood education (ECE)

Laura Molyneux (she/her) is the co-founder of Cloudberry Forest School in St John’s NL. Cloudberry is a place-based early years program with programs for children and families 18 months to adult as well as a teaching site for ECE students and in-service educators and has been operating since 2014. Over the past 2 years Cloudberry has been working alongside the provincial department of education creating a pilot program and research space to explore the barriers and benefits to licensing outdoor play programs and “outside the fence” policies to support risky play, natural and loose parts but more importantly informing policy makers to consider reflective policy making that benefits children, adults, inspectors and policy makers.

Mary Lee

Panelist on licensing of outdoor early childhood education (ECE)

Mary Lee is currently manager of the Policy and Program Coordination in the Child Care Quality Assurance and Licensing Branch with the Ministry of Education. With a Bachelors of Education from OISE, Mary started her Ontario Public Service career at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in 2007 and subsequently moved to the Ministry of Education as a policy advisor in the then newly created Early Years and Child Care Division when Full Day Kindergarten was introduced in Ontario. Since joining, she has supported the ministry’s multi-year strategy on child care modernization including the new Child Care and Early Years Act in 2014. She is excited to see the implementation of a Canada Wide Early Learning and Child Care system that aims to provide affordable quality child care across the country and further support an integrated system of early learning and education from birth through to school and higher education.

Kim Hiscott

Panelist on licensing of outdoor early childhood education (ECE)

Kim Hiscott is a registered Early Childhood Educator living in Ottawa, Canada and the Executive Director of Andrew Fleck Children’s Services, a large not-for-profit multi-service, multi-site organization that includes licensed early learning and care, special needs resourcing and support for parents. She is passionate about outdoor play, learning about intergenerational programming, inspired by collaborative, reflective Educators and keen to investigate non-traditional partnerships for system building that respects all children and families. 

Stephanie Watt

Panelist on outdoor natural play spaces and urban development

Stephanie Watt is an urban geographer and the cofounder and codirector of Metalude, a non-profit that supports cities designed for and with children. From 2017 to 2021, Stephanie was a city councillor in Montreal, where she piloted parks, play and mobility projects rooted in children’s rights. Stephanie is a board member of International Play Association Canada.

Raktim Mitra, PhD

Panelist on outdoor natural play spaces and urban development

Dr. Raktim Mitra is an Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and co-Director of TransForm Research Laboratory at the Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly known as Ryerson University). He completed his PhD in Urban Planning in 2011 from the University of Toronto, and is currently affiliated with the Department of Geography and Programs in Environment at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) as an Associate Professor (status only). Raktim’s teaching and research explores the intersection between the neighbourhood environment, mobility behaviour and wellbeing. His current research programs and publications focus more specifically on walking, cycling and playing in urban neighbourhoods. Raktim is the co-editor of a recently published book titled Transport and Children’s Wellbeing, which summarizes 10+ years of his research on this topic. In recent years, he has collaborated with school boards and community-based organizations in delivering and evaluating play-based programming at schools and within Toronto’s neighbourhoods. Raktim is also leading a major multi-institutional collaboration called StudentMoveTO – a partnership between 10 universities and colleges in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area- that focuses on transportation behaviour, mobility challenges and wellbeing of post-secondary students.

Hilary Caldwell, PhD

Panelist on outdoor natural play spaces and urban development

Hilary Caldwell, PhD is a researcher who studies physical activity and health in children and youth. Hilary has partnered with schools, public health departments, recreation departments, and sport and community organizations to conduct applied research that aims to get kids moving in the places they live, learn, and play. She is a currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University and an embedded researcher with the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Hilary is currently conducting research about movement behaviors in the early years, Health Promoting Schools, health equity, and outdoor play. Hilary completed her MSc and PhD degrees in Kinesiology at McMaster University where she contributed to projects about physical activity and physical literacy from the preschool to school-age years in laboratory, school, and community settings. Hilary currently lives in Halifax and can often be found biking and running around the city with her family, dreaming of better cycling infrastructure and more play spaces.

Dr. Frank Welsh

Panelist on the future of outdoor play
Frank Welsh recently retired from his post as the Director of Policy for the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) where he was responsible for developing policy alternatives and supporting advocacy on public health issues. Prior to joining CPHA, Frank held managerial and Director-level positions with the Federal government, and worked in science-based regulatory and policy development, business and strategic planning, emergency preparedness and response, and management of science-based organizations. He began his career as a research scientist.

Mallory Donaldson

Panelist on the future of outdoor play
Mallory Donaldson recently graduated from the Bachelor or Early Learning and Community Development (BELCD) honours degree program at Algonquin College. She is a soon-to-be Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) and has an advanced diploma in pre-health science. Mallory was delighted to accepted a one year Fellowship opportunity with the Canadian Centre for Outdoor Play (CCOP). Her role is to build capacity and thought-leadership for outdoor play stakeholders as well as lead advocacy initiatives for the promotion of outdoor play in the early years. She is excited to share her practical experiences and deepen her understandings regarding research, policy, practice, and how the themes shape the future of outdoor play in Canada and abroad.

Dr. Eun-Young Lee

Panelist on the future of outdoor play
Dr. Eun-Young Lee (they/them) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University. In their free time, Eun-Young enjoys spending time outdoors.

Marnie Power

Workshop lead, Outdoor play and children's mental health
Marnie Power is renowned for her work in outdoor, play-based learning. She’s a passionate speaker and thought leader who founded and led several ground-breaking organizations in recent years, including Carp Ridge Forest Preschool (the first Forest School in Canada!), the Ottawa Forest and Nature School (now a program of Andrew Fleck Children’s Services), Forest School Canada (now led by the Child Nature Alliance of Canada), and most recently, Playful Mindset, a not-for-profit organization committed to advancing children’s mental health through outdoor play.

Norma Peltier

Land acknowledgement welcome and workshop lead

Norma Peltier is a member of the Wiikwemkoong First Nations on beautiful M’nidoo M’nising.

Norma is an energetic, passionate Anishnaabe kwe who brings a leadership style characterized by enthusiasm, visionary thinking, and a pragmatic approach to her passion for the Anishinaawbe culture and teachings. Norma has devoted her time in studying, practicing, and teaching using a spiritual energy perspective and applied knowledge of the ceremonial practices in Sundance, Raindance and Waterwalks. Norma is fluent in Anishnaabemowin.

Norma is actively involved with the Land Based Program with the Wiikwemkoong Board of Education and is the Traditional Advisor for Ocean Wise – Ocean Bridge Great Lakes Regions as well as the Ottawa Forest and Nature School by instructing children and youth about the value of honouring the water. 

Norma continues to share her knowledge of cultural teachings and language to her three beautiful grandchildren and as a Zigoos of a great legacy of nieces and nephews.

Louise Zimanyi

Speaker Session - Walking Together: Transforming Early Childhood Education Practice and Research through Two-Eyed Land-Based Play and Co-Learning

Louise Zimanyi: French-Canadian and Hungarian descent, living in Tkaronto/Toronto, Treaty 13 territory; Professor, Early Childhood Education, Humber College; Co-Lead, Two-Eyed Land-Based Play and Co-Learning in Early Learning and Care Ecosystems, Outdoor Play Strategy 2.0; co-author of Walking Together (Annick Press, 2023).

Elder Albert Marshall

Speaker Session - Walking Together: Transforming Early Childhood Education Practice and Research through Two-Eyed Land-Based Play and Co-Learning

Elder Albert Marshall: Moose Clan of the Mi’kmaw Nation from Eskasoni in Unama’ki – Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He is a co-creator Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing, a guiding principle, which serves to integrate traditional Indigenous ways of knowing with other systems of thought for the benefit of all; co-author of Walking Together (Annick Press, 2023).

Lynn Short

Speaker Session - Walking Together: Transforming Early Childhood Education Practice and Research through Two-Eyed Land-Based Play and Co-Learning

Lynn Short: Mixed heritage – Ojibway, Irish, English and German living in Tkaronto/Toronto, Treaty 13 territory; Co-Lead, Two-Eyed Land-Based Play and Co-Learning in Early Learning and Care Ecosystems, Outdoor Play Strategy 2.0; Former Environmental Stewardship Coordinator, Humber Arboretum and Indigenous Curriculum Specialist for Land and Culture Based Programs, Humber College.

Greg Taylor, RECE

Fireside Sing-Along Lead

Greg has worked with children in a variety of capacities most of his adult life, including music lessons, summer camps, and driving a school bus.  From 2005-2007, he worked at a childcare centre in Toronto while attending Seneca College.  He completed his ECE Diploma in 2007 and relocated to Eastern Ontario with his family in the fall of 2008.  Shortly after, he joined the Andrew Fleck Children’s Services Team. 

Music has been an important part of his life for as long as he can remember.  He sings, plays guitar, and has spent time studying and working in music.  One of the things he likes most about music is when everyone has a great time singing a favourite song together.

When he’s away from work, he enjoys playing guitar, singing and writing music, playing and watching soccer, and following the Maple Leafs.  Even more than these things, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Haley, and their three young boys, Evan, Austin, and Owen.

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