I am so pleased to be leading Bridges to Belonging, and so excited about what lies ahead. With lots of enthusiasm and a short attention span, I have worked and studied many places. I have studied at Wilfrid Laurier University, Aarhus University in Denmark, and Nipissing University, I’ve been a teacher here in Kitchener and in South Korea, an Employment Counsellor, Job Developer, and Workplace Language Coach for Newcomers to Canada through The Working Centre in downtown Kitchener, and Coordinator and Community Developer at The Family Centre.
As an institutional entrepreneur, I was the lead developer of The Waterloo Region Internationally Educated Teachers Pilot Project, the FC Community Hub, and I have contributed to many groups and organizations throughout the community. I am so excited to bring these experiences into my work with Bridges to Belonging.
Opportunity, inclusion, engagement, community, empathy, and earnestness are some of my favorite words. I am driven by my values, which makes Bridges to Belonging, with values of Inclusion, Choice, Respect, Full Citizenship, Collaboration, and Relationships, a great fit for me. I live in downtown Kitchener with my partner Jenny, our daughter Edith, and our beloved hound, Sammy.
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I’m Carmen Sutherland and I’m so excited to be joining Bridges to Belonging as the Community Presenter.
I have a background in Rehabilitation Counselling and have been involved in disability communities in both the United States and Canada, and if you want to see me cry, ask me what these experiences meant to me! I love to help people with disabilities build meaningful relationships and have fun in their communities. I love the feeling of belonging I have in Waterloo region, and I want to help others feel the same in any way I can. Besides these topics, I love to talk about books, food and television.
Please get in touch if you would like to have me join your group to talk about Bridges to Belonging!
I was thrilled to accept the opportunity to join this fantastic team of Independent Facilitators with Bridges to Belonging! I am eager to help motivate and encourage the people I work with to go after their dreams and find a greater sense of belonging in our community – whether they want to join a choir, learn to knit, go stargazing or live independently. I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures the people I work with will take us on.
For the past ten years I have worked as an employment advisor with a local not-for-profit agency. There I supported those I worked with in identifying and setting their goals, and assisting them in achieving them – whether that was to find a new job, better opportunities, completing their grade twelve education or obtaining post secondary education.
Beyond my employment, I work with several organizations including the KW Parents of Multiple Births Association, Preemie Parents of Waterloo-Wellington Region, Multiple Births Canada and the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation.
I am married and have three wonderful children including identical twin boys. I enjoy blogging, tinkering with social media, scrapbooking, taking photos of anything and everything, and hanging out with my family.
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It is truly a privilege for me to work as a facilitator and to be part of this wonderful team at Bridges to Belonging. I am excited as we all join hands and embark on this journey to build stronger community. Having travelled from around half of the world, I consider myself fortunate to call this beautiful country Canada as our home. I have done a Masters in Nutrition and have had the privilege of working in Community Health Programs in USA, UK and here in Canada. At present I work with House of Friendship and Extend-A-Family. In the past I have worked as a facilitator in Childhood Obesity Program known as MEND in UK, with Alzheimers’ Association in USA and several community nutrition programs in UK and Canada.
I look forward to build new and stronger bonds with community members as a facilitator and I will feel happy to help someone in defining and achieving their goal. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a smiling face and it is more satisfying when you know that you are one of the reasons in bringing about such a smile.
I live in Waterloo with my husband Atul and our techie son Advait. I also lead a Nordic Pole Walking group. We walk over the weekends exploring various beautiful trails in our region.
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I am a facilitator, educator, trainer, and consultant working within the Waterloo Region. In my own busy life I have been blessed with an amazing family, a great old house, a growing garden, and lots and lots of travelling. I have chaired and participated in multiple boards from non-profits to local community groups. I love to see good things happening with such amazing people!
Often we can lose sight of those things within us that cause a spark, create joy, and success. We live our lives in a comfortable manner but never really thrive. I see my facilitation work as transformative; it is about helping you to return to a mental state where your goals and actions reflect your dreams, talents, and aspirations. It is a catalyst to successfully move you forward in your own unique individual life using assessment, planning and action.
I am a Maps and Paths Facilitator, and have participated in Facilitation Leadership group Training. I am a member of the Independent Facilitators Network, and the Ontario College of Teachers. Some of my past jobs have been through the Ontario Arts Council (Innovation and Visual Linguistics), the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, the Granta Housing Society UK., the Kingston Association for Community Living, and the St. Catharines Association for Community Living.
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I grew up in K-W, then went to Ottawa for University. I worked at the Canadian Red Cross Society and with the Canadian Life Saving Society for 17 years where I gained my love for working with people, the community, solving problems and how to best handle stressful and crises situations.
I have spent the last decade heavily involved in volunteering as a soccer coach, involved with Music for Young Children, and at Northlake Woods P.S. as a Strong Start coach in both regular classrooms and the Developmental Education Classrooms, along with a variety of other community involvements.
I would now like to turn my career in a direction that encompasses my love of working with folks with challenges who don’t always fit into the norm and my love for the community. I believe this combination results in an excellent fit for a facilitator at Bridges to Belonging.
My family is priority for me (including our dog Max), and we stay very active while having fun! I learn from my kids everyday and have become well versed in kung fu knowledge and can almost tell you when a hockey puck is offside now in a game!
I am so very lucky to be able to say I love what I do! You never know what will cross your path on any given day and I love that challenge and variety. I am grateful to work and learn alongside my fellow facilitators who inspire me at every turn.
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Toronto is my home town but I have lived in Waterloo for the majority of my adult life. I worked for a number of years at The Regional Municipality of Waterloo in office admin. After the birth of my first daughter I was a stay at home mom for a couple of years. Manulife was my next job where I began in office admin and ended as an underwriter in Group Benefits. After 16 years I took time off to care for my teenaged daughter (girl # 3!) with Cerebral Palsy and other special needs. When I returned to work it was as a PSW with The Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region.
Some of my passions include traveling all over the world with my husband, discovering new cultures, reading and going to the movies. We also try to travel with our youngest daughter as our goal is to have her experience as much of the world as possible. She has been bumped up stairs and carried over rivers in her manual wheelchair in our attempt to make every place accessible to her!
As the parent of an adult facing many challenges, the work that Bridges to Belonging does is both inspiring and invigorating. I am excited and proud to become a team member of the Bridges to Belonging family.
Email – 519-886-8886 ext. 2427
Creative Housing Coordinatormore
I’m very excited to be part of the Bridges to Belonging team as Creative Housing Coordinator!
I have lived, worked and volunteered in several countries which enriched my perception and awareness of the barriers and challenges people face when they move to a new country/home and what it means to belong.
I first experienced this when I lived in a developing country where I met my life partner. He opened my eyes to the harsh realities of living in extreme poverty and inspired me to pursue a path in social services. For the last 14 years, I have had the privilege of working with people from all walks of life in health and social service agencies building relationships to help people achieve their goals and potential for success.
As a social justice, environmental and human rights activist, I volunteer to help educate others on the protection and preservation of our natural environment. As a recent member of Waterloo Region Cohousing Ecovillage; a pilot for an intentional community open to all that aims to create a sustainable lifestyle for multiple generations to be adaptable to environmental changes. I hope this will lead to more creative solutions to current affordable housing issues.
Now, as I begin this new chapter as Creative Housing Coordinator- I am eager to help build a more sustainable, inclusive community that provides a choice and a voice by helping support individuals with their housing goals in Waterloo Region.
In the words of Naguib Mahfouz; a home is not where you are born, home is where all your attempts to escape cease.
I have been happily connecting people over the past 25 or so years. I started by working in a group home with Community Living London while taking the Developmental Services Worker program at Fanshawe College. Since then, I have enjoyed many experiences from managing a theatre company to working at the Development Services Access Centre. I am building my craft of Independent Facilitation and planning by applying what I am learning through the Toronto Summer Institute, Maps and Paths Training, and training with the Facilitation Leadership Group. I believe we can all be included and that Independent Facilitation assists people in building a life in community. I am honoured to be working with incredible people who share a vision of belonging, participation, and purpose.
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A bit about me – I am excited to be part of the Bridges to Belonging team of Independent Facilitators. I love meeting new people, hearing their stories and finding common ground. I believe deeply that everyone has value and gifts to enrich our communities. It’s just a matter of helping others to see and appreciate those gifts.
According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book, The Tipping Point, I am a Connector – a person who knows lots of people and is in the habit of making introductions. Connectors know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles. That’s me! Through my continuing work as the Networks Coordinator for Planned Lifetime Networks, I have gained experience working with people of all abilities and families, particularly in the area of relationships and social support networks. I truly believe that relationships are at the centre of a meaningful, rich life for all of us.
I have been volunteering for most of my adult life – Girl Guides, Down syndrome organizations, Association for Community Living, Special Education Advisory Committee, local and national conferences, fundraisers, church committees and Sunday School. In my early career, I worked in finance. I am a fun-loving optimist with a ready smile and a can-do attitude. I have an unquenchable thirst for learning about community, humanity, peace, diversity, etc. through reading, workshops and first-hand experience. I enjoy cooking, gardening, reading, walks in the woods, kayaking and travel. I am a parent of three amazing adult children, one of whom lives with a developmental challenge, and a passionate grandparent of two beautiful children.
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I am thrilled to be joining Bridges to Belonging as an Independent Facilitator. For over thirty years I have had the privilege of supporting people in a variety of roles: as a Family Home Provider, Support Worker, Educational Assistant, Speech and Language Assistant, and for the past eight years, as an Assistive Technology Specialist, providing training and support on assistive technology for students with special needs. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from those who share in the belief that everyone has the capacity to become active and valued participants in their community. I am passionate about inclusion for all and look forward to playing an active role in supporting people’s gifts and dreams and building meaningful relationships. I live in Kitchener with my husband, Jerry, and we have three grown children, Ryan, Leanne and Joel.
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When I first came to live in Kitchener-Waterloo, it wasn’t long before the community that was growing and developing here had made an impression on me. Everyday I continue to be amazed by the people I meet here and the work they do to create connections and foster a sense of belonging in this place. This is the kind of work that gives me energy and makes me feel alive – which is why it is so thrilling to find myself a part of the Bridges to Belonging team!
I graduated from Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Waterloo, where I first began to explore questions of how our society can be more inclusive and just through classes and a field study year in Ghana. After graduation, I worked in University recruitment and learned about effective communication and the importance of listening to people as they considered their goals and what opportunities would help them achieve those dreams. In Mexico, I volunteered and lived in a Catholic Worker called Casa Colibri and was privileged to experience the daily life of people living in community and attempting to live justly with their neighbours and in the world. Most recently, I joined an accompaniment organization in Colombia that walked along farming communities at risk of being driven off their lands by palm oil corporations and advocated for their rights by shining an international spotlight on the struggles they faced. These travel experiences have given me unique opportunities to learn about what it means to be an outsider, and the barriers that exist to keep people out of the way or to separate them from others. But what I have loved most is meeting with the people who organize and work for inclusion and to break down those barriers.
I believe there is a space for everyone in our community, and am excited to be a part of creating those spaces in the Waterloo region.
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It is truly a privilege for me to be working as an Independent Facilitator with Bridges to Belonging.
I started my career in Developmental Services in 1986 and have worked in various roles at KW Habilitation, DSRC, Family and Children’s Services, and Planned Lifetime Networks. After staying home with my three boys for seven years, I returned to work as an Educational Assistant for the Waterloo Region District School Board, where I have been for the last three years. For over 20 years I have also been a certified Red Cross First Aid Instructor, and have enjoyed providing staff training at two local Developmental Service agencies. I am also a potter and have loved facilitating creative clay experiences for people of all ages and capabilities over the past 15 years. Supporting individuals with varying abilities has been a very natural part of my life’s work and I am thrilled to be able to continue to make it center stage in my daily life. I look forward to getting to know many new people and helping to facilitate goals, dreams and continue to build an inclusive community.
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Since I fell unwittingly into the world of person-centred facilitation in 2006, I have felt blessed to be working in a way that calls on both practicality and creativity in order to follow what makes deep sense. In fact, I have been calling this work, and work like it, “context artistry”, because it attends to what is actually happening and what is most important to people, looking through a lens that nurtures the beautiful, complex web of relationships in a community, and sees each person as a vital, intricate ecosystem within that larger living network. With a background in dance, theatre and visual art, particularly interactive, dialogue-based, community-building forms, I am curious how the arts can enrich facilitation and create change in fun and fundamental ways. When I trained in MAPS and PATHS Facilitation, I fell in love with graphic facilitation, where, through deep listening and drawing pictures, a process is visually recorded, so everyone can literally be on the “same page”. I live with my intimate learning partner and other context artists in an intentional learning community, exploring “relationship economics” and what it means to embody a systems understanding in everyday life.
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It is an honor for me to be able to work as a facilitator with Bridges to Belonging. As a young adult, I worked as a counsellor, sexuality educator, child welfare worker and group facilitator – I enjoyed all these roles. However, life really got interesting for me when I became a parent! With this experience, I was drawn into the “diffability” (a word my daughter created that combines different and ability) community. I learned so much about my own values, about creative thinking, about what it means to belong, and about the value of living in diverse neighbourhoods where everyone is valued and everyone contributes. I look forward to getting to know many new people through Bridges to Belonging and to working with others to build a stronger, more inclusive community. I live in Kitchener with my husband Doug, two daughters, Evie and Clare, and our menagerie.
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