KEYNOTE: Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.

Jordan’s Principle: Achieving Equity for First Nations Children and Families

A member of the Gitksan First Nation, Cindy has 25 years of social work experience specializing in child protection and Indigenous children’s rights.

An author of over 50 publications and a widely sought after public speaker, Cindy has collaborated with other Indigenous leaders to assist the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in the development and adoption of a General Comment on the Rights of Indigenous children.

Her promotion of culturally based and evidence informed solutions has been recognized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Frontline Defenders and many others.

KEYNOTE: Fred Penner, Award-Winning Canadian Entertainer

Never Underestimate Your Ability to Make a Difference in the Life of Another Person

Fred Penner is gentle man with an undeniable ability to make you feel good about yourself. This musical master brings more than 40 years of commitment, consistency and depth to a career that blends the many genres of performing and communication. Fred continues to grow and create music for his generations of “Fred Heads”. From hosting the United Way National conference in Saskatoon to emceeing the renowned Polaris Music Awards and being part of the C3 Legacy Expedition supporting the truth and reconciliation process in remote parts of Canada, apparently retirement is not in the cards for our Fred. The phone is still ringing! And his concert touring continues. His latest Juno Award / Canadian Folk Music Award / Western Canadian Music Award winning CD project, Hear The Music is dedicated to all who have travelled with him on his musical journey. He is thankful to the generations for allowing him into their lives, listening and singing along.

In his career Fred has delivered a prolific 13 CDs to families across North America and countless energetic live shows for eager audiences. In his television life Fred composed the music for YTV’s Tipi Tales and is especially known for over 900 episodes in 13 seasons of acclaimed Fred Penner’s Place TV series – CBC (Canada) and Nick. Jr. (USA). Fred’s visibility has allowed him the privilege and joy of using his voice to support organizations like UNESCO, World Vision, UNICEF and the Canadian Down Syndrome Society.

In 2005, Fred journeyed to Zambia, Africa with World Vision to host a program for Child Sponsorship in the Western World. Expanding his connection to dedicated teachers, as keynote presenter at numerous early childhood conferences, he has, without a doubt, established himself as a fundamental part of the North American family educational/entertainment scene. Fred has received two honorary doctorates and received the Order of Canada for his life’s work. Whether it’s through CDs, concerts, videos, books or television, his cornerstone philosophy remains the same:” Never underestimate your ability to make a difference in the life of a person”.

KEYNOTE: Zofia Dove, Speaker & Humourist

It is too Serious to be Serious 

It seems like not long ago that Zofia was a new immigrant with little to no ability to speak English. Today, you can’t stop her talking!  In a career that has ranged from being a physiotherapist in Poland to becoming a health professional in Canada, Zofia has fine-tuned her unique talent for adding humour into the most difficult of circumstances.

Zofia is also the author of a local bestseller book called “Unexpected Gifts” and is known for her uplifting Keynote speeches, “It is too serious to be serious”, “The Power of You” and “Humour as a Universal Language for Leaders”.

Zofia is now a professional speaker who shares her passion with her audiences and shows them that humour is the power behind personal and professional transformations.


KEYNOTE: River Christie-White, Hoop Dancer & Speaker

Hoops for Hope: A Journey of Acceptance Over Inclusion

River Christie-White is a First Nations Youth from Oneida Nation Of The Thames. He is a hoop dancer, fancy dancer, flute player, singer, presenter and motivational speaker.

River has spent the last eight years traveling the pow wow trail and spreading awareness for autism and disability. After tragically losing a friend to suicide, due to bullying because she was autistic, River then too experienced bullying due to his own autism. Since that time, River decided to travel to more First Nations communities to talk to people and educate them on autism, bullying, suicide prevention and the importance of fostering inclusion in communities everywhere.

River’s main message is, “Just because someone is different, it doesn’t mean they don’t belong!”

 Carolyn Klassen, Family Therapist 

Honouring the Loneliness of the Journey

Vulnerability & Shame: Mentioning the Never Mentioned

Carolyn O. Klassen has completed a Master of Arts degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counselling in Fresno, California.  She also has a degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Manitoba. She is a therapist and director at Conexus Counselling in Winnipeg.

She believes that fundamentally, all of us are wired for connection, and that meaningful relationships have tremendous healing power. Carolyn taught for many years at the University of Manitoba, speaks widely and writes about aspects of connection, including a book and a weekly conversation with Hal Anderson on 680CJOB. She loves lattés, family suppers, sun porches, and watching her sons play sports.

Debbie Cielen, Elder & Mentor

Miikana Pimatiziwin, Life’s Journey: Path to Healing and Reconciliation

Debbie Cielen “Good Talking Turtle” has been involved in cultural teachings and practices since the early 90’s. Debbie has been the the Elder-in-residence at Life’s Journey since June 2016.

Debbie has worked in the social services field for over 30 years. Before coming to Life’s Journey Inc. Debbie spent nine years managing one of the first Insight Mentoring Programs in 1998 and 10 years managing the Indian Residential Schools Health Support Program located at Neeginan Centre.

Debbie is a pipe carrier, lodge keeper, and has sundanced for over 17 years. Debbie was mentored by the late Elders North Standing Wind, Little Turtle, Medicine White Wolf and Crow Feather.

Dr. Janet Twyman, Educational Innovator 

Life in the Fast Lane: The Intersection of Education, Technology, & Behaviour Analysis

Dr. Janet Twyman is an education innovator, thought leader, and founder of blast: a learning sciences company. She’s also the Director of Innovation and Technology for the Center on Innovations in Learning, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Univ. of Mass. Medical School, and formerly the Vice President of Instructional Development, Research, & Implementation at Headsprout. Her numerous articles, book chapters, and presentations cover behavior analysis, instructional design, technology, and educational systems; she also co-edited two books on educational innovation and personalized learning. She has presented to and worked with education systems, organizations, and institutions over 40 states and countries, including speaking about technologies for diverse learners and settings at the United Nations.

Dr. Twyman serves on several boards and committees, and co-chairs the education group for the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. In 2007-08 she served as the President of the Association for Behavior Analysis and in 2014 was named an ABAI Fellow. For her distinguished contributions to educational research and practice she received the 2015 Wing Award for Evidence-Based Education and the 2017 American Psychological Association Division 25 Fred S. Keller Behavioral Education Award.

Lesley Eblie Trudel, Educator

Seeking Mino-Pimatisiwin (Seeking The Good Life)

Lesley Eblie Trudel has been successfully involved in public education in Manitoba for over thirty years. She has held positions ranging from instructional to administrative, working with diverse populations in both urban and rural settings.  Lesley is a retired Assistant Superintendent of Schools and currently Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg.   She holds a PhD (Inclusive Education) from the University of Manitoba (2010).

Lesley has a keen interest in organizational learning and systemic change, as it pertains to diverse and inclusive educational communities.

Linton Sellen, Leadership Development Consultant & Trainer 

Linton Sellen is an experienced and award-winning manager, trainer, and trainer of leaders. For the last 18 years, Linton has conducted on-site and classroom training of managers and supervisors and provided leadership consultation to businesses and other organizations through the company Training Plus. He is noted for his unique, original, yet practical insights into leadership. He specializes in the area of leadership development and has developed the Workplace Leader Course to address the issues faced by the leader in the modern workplace. The training has earned rave reviews from leaders in organizations across Canada.

Marie Antaya, Author & Speaker 

Take Charge of Your Time and Priorities

Marie Antaya is an international speaker, author of four books, and educator in a variety of subjects including business communication. Marie has shared her expertise with clients in private, non-profit and public sector organizations leading numerous program and course development projects. Using her combined experiences, Marie designs and delivers informative, practical workshops tailored to the audience’s needs. Presently, Marie is a board member with Plain Language Association International. Also, she is a Certified Training and Development Professional.

Michael Jacques, Author & Self Advocate

The Journey of “Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book”

Michael is a young adult who lives and works in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. He is a determined, compassionate and talented individual who has written his first book titled Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book. Michael has autism and an intellectual disability and is a passionate public speaker. He has presented to students at the secondary, college, and university levels, and to parents and teachers about the importance of belonging and inclusion. He sits on the board of Community Living Ontario, through which he advocates for individuals like himself. Michael hopes to write many more books and continue to change the world through his stories.

Michael J. Kendrick, PhD.

Understanding and Addressing Vulnerability in Adult Home Sharing Arrangements 

Michael J. Kendrick PhD. is known for his extensive work for more than forty years as an independent international consultant in human services and community work. His work as an advocate, activist, teacher, evaluator, consultant, writer and advisor has involved him in many of the key leadership issues of the day. He has worked with governments, service organizations, advocacy groups, professional bodies, service providers and small community groups in many countries. He has an interest in ethical leadership, service quality, the creation of safeguards for vulnerable persons, change strategies, social integration, innovation, advocacy, social ethics, alternatives to bureaucracy, personalized support, and reforms in human services.

Andrée Huberdeau, Winnipeg Police Service Training Academy


Patrol Sergeant Andrée Huberdeau has been a police officer for over 20 years. She is currently a supervisor at the Winnipeg Police Service Training Academy and deeply values education, whether it be for new recruits or experienced police officers.   Andrée has an eighteen year old son on the autism spectrum and is particularly passionate about mental health and disabilities training.

Randy Antonio, Winnipeg Police Service

Sergeant Randy Antonio has over 30 years of experience in the field of law enforcement, the last 25 with Winnipeg Police where he is currently the Supervisor of Research and Development Unit, Organizational Development and Support Division. In addition to his full time role, Randy is also the Ground Search and Rescue Coordinator for the City of Winnipeg and a member of the Disaster Management Response Team (MIRT). Involved in volunteer SAR for 20 years, he is the founder of both Winnipeg Search and Rescue Volunteer Association and Project Lifesaver Manitoba. Randy also serves as the Manitoba Coordinator for the AdventureSmart SAR programs and is the SARVAC representative to the SAR Incident Prevention Working Group.

Dr. Reece Malone, Sexologist

Dr. Reece Malone is the CEO and Lead Trainer and Supervisor of Diversity Essentials. He is a certified sexologist and holds a Masters of Public Health and Doctorate of Human Sexuality. Dr. Malone is a certified sexuality educator and supervisor through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, and a Florida State certified sex therapist.  As a sexual health educator and advocate, he provides sexuality consultation and education to service providers and the public.

Rosalyn Howard, Consultant & Educator

Navigating Change: Awareness and Action

Rosalyn Howard, MA is a seasoned facilitator, consultant, speaker, and adult educator, with wide and deep experience. She takes a positive, collaborative, strengths-based approach through her business hct Howard Consulting & Training. She works with local and national organizations including governments, universities, professional associations, and NGOs, focusing on change management, strategic planning, leadership skills, facilitation skills, and team effectiveness. She also is a municipal councillor in her lakeside community of Dunnottar, Manitoba.

Shane T. Spiker, Applied Behaviour Analyst & Educator 

A Casual Review of All the Behaviour We’re Afraid to See

Self-Care in a Behavior Analytic World

Shane T. Spiker is a board certified behaviour analyst in Ormond Beach, Florida. Shane received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2011 and his Master of Science of Psychology in 2012 from the University of Phoenix. At present time, he is a PhD candidate through Walden University. He has been deeply immersed in the field of behavior analysis for eight years, with the majority of his experience working with adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Shane specifically specializes in working with teens and adults with significant and dangerous problem behavior, and medically complex individuals.

Primarily, Shane serves as the Director of Training and Dissemination at PBS, Corp. Currently, Shane is serving as the secretary of the Sexual Behavior: Research and Practice special interest group through the Association for Behavior Analysis International. He has written and published several articles related to behavior analysis and practice. Additionally, he services as a co-instructor at Florida Institute of Technology and Arizona State University, where he teaches graduate level behavior analytic coursework for those seeking certification.

Baden Gaeke Franz and 


Baden Gaeke Franz is an autistic self-advocate and Manitoba chapter president of Autistics United Canada: a grassroots organization by and for autistic people. Their advocacy work has lead to exciting opportunities, including giving presentations to clinical staff at the Manitoba government, traveling to Ottawa to consult on upcoming accessibility legislation, and writing documents for the United Nations. They are a graduate of the University of Winnipeg.

Tamar Heller

Healthy Lifestyles for Adults Aging with Intellectual and Development Disabilities

Tamar Heller, PH.D. Distinguished Professor, heads the Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and its University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. She also directed the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Developmental Disabilities and Health and the Family Support Research and Training Center. Her research focuses on health and long-term services and supports for individuals with disabilities and their families. She serves on the executive council, directs is publication committee, and is Vice President of the Americas for the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD), was President of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) board, a delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging, and co-founder of the national Sibling Leadership Network. Her awards include the 2009 Arc of Illinois Autism Ally for Public Policy Award; the 2008 Lifetime Research Achievement Award, IASSIDD, Interest Group on Aging; the 2009 Community Support Services Community Partner Award, the 2010 College of Applied Health Sciences, UIC Outstanding Researcher Award, and the AUCD 2012 International Award.

Katarina Lee

Changing The Lens: The Value of Suffering in the Disability Context

Katarina Lee received her BA in Philosophy from the University of Dallas, her MA in Bioethics from New York University, her JD with a concentration in Health Law and Bioethics from the University of Minnesota and her post-doctoral clinical ethics fellowship from Baylor College of Medicine and Houston Methodist Hospital. Katarina is currently a Clinical Ethicist at St. Boniface Hospital and the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba’s communities of service as well as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Manitoba.

Allison Hay & Jenny-Lynn Reid

Virtual Music Instrument: Unleash Your Creativity with the VMI

Shahin Shooshtari

Quality of Life of Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Health of Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Transitioning into Community Settings



Roger Stancliffe

End of Life Research and People with Intellectual and Developmental Disability


Rosalyn Howard