Brian completed his B.Ed. at the U of A in 1985 - and his Masters of Counselling Psychology in 2008.

Brian's educational career, which now spans over 35 years, includes roles as:

  • a middle and high school teacher,

  • a high school counsellor,

  • a Department lead (Physical Education, English, Humanities and Counselling)

  • a coach, in a number of school and community sports,

  • and most recently as the Red Deer Public School District’s first Student Services Coordinator - Valuing Mental Health - which focuses on mental health & wellness, physical health & wellness, staff wellness, staff training and parent education. In this role, Brian was able to implement a Mental Health Literacy program within the RDPSD.

Brian apologizes in advance if his passion for the support of students, staff and families leaks out in this session.

Brian wants you to know, from the start, that he does not consider himself an expert in any of the things we are about to discuss, but hopes to do the same thing everyone else hopes to do... and that's to learn just a bit more about some best practices, tips and guidelines for supporting others through the implementation of a mental health literacy program in your school jurisdiction.


John B. Fletcher was born and raised in Miramichi, New Brunswick, where he currently resides with his wife Natalie and their four children, Kellan, Kylie, Khloe, and Kyron.

John's passion to help others has taken him and his family across Canada and back. He started his career working as a group-home support worker with inner-city youth back in 2008. In 2011, John and his wife moved to an isolated northern Quebec community for three years, where John worked as a high school teacher and a guidance counsellor. Needing a break from isolation-living and little work in New Brunswick, in 2014, John and his family put their sights on Fort McMurray, Alberta. While there, John worked as a school-based mental health therapist at a public high school and at an alternative therapeutic school.

In 2018, John joined the team at Anglophone School District North as a District Mental Health Mentor. John leads the Suicide Intervention Protocol established with all four provincial departments: Health, Public Safety, Social Development and Education. John oversees the rollout of the Mental Health Literacy Project for high schools, and a resilience-focused program for middle schools. In January 2021, John launched the podcast, Fishing for Mental Health, where he interviews prominent mental health figures across North America. John also works part-time in private practice at Campbell's Cognitive Therapy Clinic.

John has a Bachelor of Arts with a major in psychology and English from St. Thomas University, a Bachelor of Education from Crandall University, and a Master's in Counselling Psychology from the University of New Brunswick. John is a Licensed Counselling Therapist with the New Brunswick College of Counselling Therapists and a Certified Canadian Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. John also has a keen interest in using animals in the therapeutic environment and is currently in the process of pursuing post-graduate training in Animal-Assisted Therapy and Equine Facilitated Wellness.

Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and four children, eight goats and two alpacas on his small hobby farm in Nelson-Miramichi.


Connie Easton is the Coordinator for Mental Health, Social Emotional Learning and Counselling at the Richmond School District in Richmond, BC. She holds an MA in Counselling Psychology from UBC and was a Secondary School Counsellor for 23 years prior to working at the District Level. Connie is a passionate advocate for child and youth mental health, social emotional learning and trauma informed practice in schools and believes that blending these three pillars is the foundation of compassionate learning communities and classrooms. Currently, Connie is actively involved in supporting schoolwide SEL and Mental Health Literacy implementation in schools, as well as creating opportunities for youth voice and advocacy in areas of Mental Health and SOGI within the District and with community partners.


Katherine Jarrell MSW, RSW joined the Alberta School Mental Health Literacy Project in 2019. She has been with Alberta Health Services in a mental health capacity building role since 2013, serving as an Education Consultant and Clinical Consultant to support rural educators, physicians, clinicians and other direct service providers in their work with children and youth. In her work at Mount Royal University, Kathy served as a subject matter expert for the Children’s Mental Health Certificate program, and has taught clinical courses primarily in the Social Work program. In 2011, Kathy was recognized with a Distinguished Teaching Award. Within AHS, Kathy has partnered with the Provincial Mental Health Promotion and Injury Prevention team to deliver training in Disaster Preparedness, including facilitating School-based Psychological First Aid. In addition, Kathy continues to provide counselling in private practice, primarily using a CBT approach.


Catharine McFee BA, BSW, MSW, RSW is currently employed with Alberta Health Services-Provincial Addiction and Mental Health as an Education Consultant. In previous clinical, community, and health promotion roles, she assisted in developing and delivering community psychosocial disaster response and recovery supports/resources in High River following the 2013 Southern Alberta floods, in Fort McMurray following the 2016 wildfire, and most recently with COVID-19. Catharine is part of the psychosocial disaster network and provides ongoing education and training in the areas of disaster preparedness, response and recovery. She is a master trainer for Psychological First Aid(PFA), and –Emergency Preparedness,(E-Prep),) and trainer for Skills for Psychological Recovery(SPR) and HeartMath. Catharine brings 35 years of experience in the field of social work, across social profit, provincial government, health care and post-secondary education sectors.


Dr. Wendy Carr is a Professor of Teaching in the UBC Faculty of Education. She has had a long career in K-12 education as a teacher and district level consultant and in post-secondary as a teacher educator and administrator, having recently served as Associate Dean of Teacher Education. Her work in mental health literacy education has included the co-creation of a curriculum for pre-service teachers to develop their understanding and skills related to youth mental health; completion of a number of research studies that have been published nationally; mobilization of BC school district leaders to build staff professional capacity in mental health literacy; and collaboration on projects with a number of partners including BC ministries in health and education as well as the BC School Mental Health Coalition. She is currently collaborating with groups in AB, NB, NS and NT to co-develop a mental health literacy curriculum for Indigenous youth.


Karen Filewych has twenty-five years of educational experience as an elementary teacher, school administrator, and language arts consultant. In 2007, she completed her Master of Education degree in the area of literacy. Karen's first book - How Do I Get Them to Write? - was published by Pembroke Publishers in May of 2017. Her second book - Freewriting with Purpose - was published in January of 2019. Karen passionately believes in the power of words: to connect us with others, to understand ourselves, to inspire, to cope, to heal.

Over the last few years, Karen has presented many professional development sessions for teachers at conferences such as: the Greater Edmonton Teachers’ Convention, the Calgary City Teachers’ Convention, the English as a Second Language Conference, the English Language Arts Council Conference, the North Central Teachers’ Convention, the Central East Alberta Teachers’ Convention, the South Eastern Alberta Teachers’ Convention, and with the Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium. In February 2020, Karen presented at the Reading For the Love of It conference in Toronto.

Karen enjoys working with students through school-based writing residencies to demonstrate how writing can transform their work and their lives in the classroom and beyond. She also offers parent literacy evenings providing simple, effective ways to engage children in literacy-rich activities in the home. For more information visit:


Dr. Tanya Mudry is a registered psychologist and assistant professor of counselling psychology in the University of Calgary's Werklund School of Education. She supervises and trains counselling psychology students, practices family therapy at the Calgary Family Therapy Centre, and has a small private practice. She has specialized clinical training in child and adolescent mental health and family therapy. Tanya’s research and writing have focused on family therapy, excessive behaviours, addiction and recovery, and relational recovery of critical care survivors and their families.


Marwa Fadol is a Registered Psychologist in Alberta and holds a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. She is a Mental Health Therapist with Alberta Health Services, providing triage and assessment to people struggling with addiction and mental health concerns. Marwa has been a Core Trainer with the Alberta Mental Health Literacy Project since 2014 and has over a decade of experience in school-based and community mental health. She also has a private practice where she works with individuals and families around various issues including anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, and attachment and family relationships. Additionally, Marwa consults with community and faith-based organizations on topics related to mental health. As a clinician she believes that people are the experts in their own lives and have within them the strength and capacity to enact change. Marwa approaches her work through an attachment and developmental lens and sees that her role as a therapist is to help empower people to write their own life stories, explore their own values and beliefs about how the world works, and develop authentic, fulfilling relationships.

Marwa is also a Training and Development Specialist with the Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute (CTRI) where she facilitates trainings on a variety of topics related to mental health, trauma, and crisis response. As a trainer, she brings warmth and humour, and draws on her varied experiences to make for an engaging, relevant training experience. Marwa also provides support to other trainers and helps to ensure that our training material reflects the current research in the field and is consistent with CTRI’s core beliefs. Marwa is also a contributing author of CTRI’s book, Counselling in Relationships where she authored a chapter on counselling immigrant and refugee families; she is the author or editor of several of CTRI’s training materials, including those on the topics of attachment and counselling in relationships.


Cheryl Houtekamer has been working with children, youth, families and communities for over 35 years. Cheryl began her professional career working in adolescent group homes in Red Deer and Calgary. In 1989, she began working as an Adolescent Addiction Counsellor at the then Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission’s new Youth Day Treatment Program. Since that time, Cheryl has served in a variety of treatment, prevention, and health promotion roles, including Adolescent Day Program Supervisor, Tobacco Reduction Counsellor, and provincial Addiction Prevention Unit Program Consultant. In 2014, Cheryl graduated from the University of Alberta with a Master’s degree in Public Health. She is currently a Health Promotion Facilitator under AHS Child and Adolescent Addiction and Mental Health, where she supervises and coordinates the work of the Community Health Promotion Services team in Calgary and the surrounding area.

Cheryl successfully raised and launched two daughters. She is currently an instructor of Addiction Prevention and Advanced Public Health at Mount Royal University and the University of Lethbridge, and is studying to become a certified Personal Trainer. Over the course of her career, she has presented at local, national, and international conferences, and she is excited to have the opportunity to present to us today.


Tannis Niziol, M.Ed, is currently supporting Alberta teachers as a Professional Learning Facilitator with the Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium. She recently served as a curriculum consultant for the Edmonton Catholic School Division. Throughout her 30-year career as an educator, in both Edmonton and Winnipeg, Tannis remains passionate about teaching and learning, and the need for explicit literacy apprenticeship at all levels in all subject areas. Tannis is a voracious reader who believes all students deserve access to rich, diverse reading experiences and to a safe equitable space to talk about what they see, hear, think and feel. She is on a journey to disrupt and bring clarity to the conversations that drive our planning and assessment practice.


Adelee Penner BHEc, BEd, MEd, is a highly sought after consulting professional who has demonstrated her ability to realize system improvement and change disruption. She brings her practical experience of working with teachers, school-based and district leaders to her project consultation/work. She has been an educator and leader in school authorities in both Manitoba and Alberta. Most recently, Adelee has leadership experience as an ABED Field Manager and an Assistant Superintendent of Schools. She is also the CEO and owner of her own consulting business, Elk Willow Consulting (

Adelee is able to create remarkable outcomes through her unshakable optimism. She enjoys working alongside leaders as she believes we have an ability to shape an innovative future together. Adelee’s strengths lie in her ability to inspire and motivate people to achieve meaningful improvement; to see possibilities and create opportunities; she is a systems thinker; and her ability to craft meaningful processes through which remarkable outcomes are possible. Through her visionary leadership, ability to analyze and assess multiple data sources she is able to coach teams into actioning their potential.

As an IAP2 certified trainer Adelee enjoys working with organizations to inspire new ways to engage with their stakeholders and consider their communication strategies. Adelee inspires others to be their best while keeping focus on goals that the system is working towards.

She is a disruptor who challenges thinking and makes you realize you can shift/refine your practice for your well-being, your practice and your clients.


Heather Woodward is currently an Alberta Health Services employee managing a Mental Health Capacity Building Program in the rural southeast corner of Alberta. She has had a passion for the curriculum since her introduction to it and has been teaching it in junior and senior high school classrooms for the last 4 years.

Heather holds a Bachelor degree of Health Science (Public Health) with a focus in Health Policy and Promotion. Her love of travel and health promotion led her to initially working in international program development in the nonprofit sector. Becoming a mom led her to pursue interests closer to home and she says she landed in mental health promotion work accidentally or serendipitously, but it is truly a wonderful place to land.

Outside of work, Heather is a mom to one little guy, a wife, and overall adventure lover. Heather is boisterous and spunky and hopes that won’t deter you from joining her session and getting excited about mental health literacy!


Heather Rootsaert is the Physical Education, Health and Wellness Consultant for Edmonton Catholic Schools. In her 23 years of teaching, Heather has been blessed with the opportunity to teach K-12 in various schools and subject areas but always physical education and health. In her current role, Heather works to support administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and students of all ages. Heather has been actively involved at the provincial and national level in all things physical literacy for the majority of her career, making life long friends and fostering her love for learning. She has presented countless sessions at conferences throughout the province and across the country in everything from curriculum to assessment to engaging recess to team building to student leadership. At the end of the day, Heather has a true passion for being active and a love for finding a place for everyone.


Dr. Kelly Dean Schwartz is Associate Professor, School and Applied Child Psychology, at the University of Calgary. He holds a PhD in Social Psychology (2002) and an MSc in School and Community Psychology (1992) from the University of Calgary. His research and teaching interests include the psychosocial factors contributing to child, adolescent, and family development, particularly how developmental assets contribute to both risk and thriving in individual and social contexts. Dr. Schwartz is a full member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI), the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education, the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research, and the Canadian Institute of Public Safety Personnel Research and Treatment

Dr. Schwartz’s work has been published as articles and chapters in numerous academic and common publications, and he has presented symposia and invited lectures at over 70 national and international conferences.