Alison is part of Canada Bridges’ program team, with a specialized skill set in employment readiness and capacity building for the workplace setting. Alison’s background in the arts, formalized through her completion of a BFA with distinction, enables her to share her strengths in unique and creative ways, and empower creativity in others. Alison has pursued opportunities to engage her love for creative arts by starting a small illustration business, writing and illustrating children’s books for her nieces, and volunteering in Cambodia to run art programs for local children. Alison believes strongly in the importance of youth to a community: a belief that was encouraged in her by her grandparents from the time she was young. She demonstrates this belief in her approach to Canada Bridges work, whether through facilitation or engaging in relationships with the many youths we serve.
As Executive Director with Canada Bridges, Alyssa draws on her experience in systems thinking and collaborative facilitation to support change leaders in the communities of Calgary, Morley, Siksika and Tsuu T’ina. Alyssa was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario where, from a young age, she was actively involved in serving her community through various organizations, including leadership positions in the Girl Guides of Canada and St. James United Church. Alyssa graduated from the University of Guelph with a B.Sc. in Engineering and continued on with several programs including a Certificate in Communication Processes focusing on intercultural and interpersonal communication, human development, adult education, organizational development and leadership. Prior to joining Canada Bridges, she spent four years working with Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) in Malawi, where she supported the coordination, learning and leadership role of district government offices providing water and sanitation to rural communities. Her work involved the co-development of management tools and learning resources to strengthen connections between government staff and civil society organizations and improve the collaborative planning and efficiency of long term, sustainable service delivery. Alyssa has also helped to build local chapters of EWB in three different communities across the country, including leading the development of Member Learning, Public Outreach, and High School Outreach programs.
Anna-Marie joined Canada Bridges in April 2019 as our Operations Manager. She loves singing, dancing, making jewelry, and taking care of business. Anna-Marie was born and raised in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. She was lucky to learn about small business as part of the management team at the Bean Scene Coffee House in Vernon. Next came a year-long internship in arts administration at the Takitimu Maori performing arts centre in Hastings, New Zealand - a life changing adventure. On return, Anna-Marie joined the WestJet team, working as an analyst for methods and standards and eventually as manager of the Strategic Project Office. Her curiosity about collaboration, conflict, resilience and persistence eventually pulled her into the field of leadership development, and she is delighted to be applying her skills in an organization that works so meaningfully with youth.
Ike is a Program Manager with Canada Bridges, and is currently working in the community of Morley. Prior to working with Canada Bridges, Ike earned a BA in Political Science with a Minor in History, he is also pursuing a graduate degree in International and Intercultural Communication from Royal Roads University. Ike’s passion is in developing capacities within communities through fostering a sense of pride within the people. Having worked within Calgary’s Afro Caribbean community for the past ten years, he has helped to nurture competencies related to relationship-based development initiatives. Ike is very excited to now be working in Morley with Canada Bridges as the role really speaks to who he is. Aside from work, Ike enjoys drumming, playing sports and traveling.
Pelletier is a super fan of Brene Brown and was inspired by her Ted talk on vulnerability and belonging to practice these insights for herself and support others in doing so. Prior to joining Canada Bridges Pelletier developed her passion for youth empowerment and storytelling over 9 years, mentoring youth with different organizations all over Alberta and BC. Pelletier also has experience in the renewable energy industry and strives to incorporate and pursue environmental advocacy. She is looking forward to the creative and personal development this role will bring. Pelletier says, “as a youth who has performed in the past, coordinating such a life changing event is an incredible honour. With my youth planning committee, I hope to bring this year’s event to new levels of creativity, awareness and empowerment. A Youth Explosion will be an inclusive platform for powerful stories to be seen, heard and valued."
Russ Baker is the new Program Manager for the Urban Transitions Mentorship Program. Russ is originally from Prince George, BC. His family is Lheidli Tenneh (Klet’Leh Tenn eh) (Carrier) Woodland and Plains Nehiyaw (Cree), Irish/Norwegian. He has worked in Indigenous communities, with youth and family, on and off reserve for over 20 years. Russ has an educational background in Indigenous Child and Youth Care Counselling from Douglas College, which he draws on along with other healing and wellness practices both traditional and western. Russ worked closely with families in Hull Services' Braiding the Sweetgrass Program. He helped parents, young adults and children address intergeneration trauma while connecting back to land, ceremony, culture, games and traditions, showing that positive change can happen with positive supports, behaviours and repetition. Russ has travelled around the world for dance and rugby. During this time has seen the importance of knowing one's cultures and teachings: each culture holds gifts that need to be shared.
Sandis Twoyoungmen first got introduced to Canada Bridges when he was a High School student at the Morley Community School. He was a regular at the Tuesday night youth nights that Canada Bridges ran in the community. Sandis would come to the youth nights even if he had to walk home afterwards. Many times he would prefer to walk for two and half hours home instead of getting a ride. Canada Bridges has been fortunate to continue to journey with Sandis’ as he graduated high school and started to attend Mount Royal University.
Sandis continues to be part of the Canada Bridges mentorship program and also worked with us as a Coordinator for the AYE (A Youth Explosion) 2018 event. Sandis is now in Morley full time and will be working with us as a Program Assistant. He has already started to do facilitation with the graduating class at the Morley Community School, and he has also started to mentor some of the youth that are part of the Music Academy.
Sandis hopes to encourage youth to find projects that inspire them to set goals beyond their comfort zone. He also hopes to be a positive influence on youth in his community. We’re really excited to have Sandis on the team and look forward to seeing how he grows into this new role.
Born and raised in New Brunswick on Mi’kmaq territory, Sarah’s first teachings in aboriginal culture arrived at the age of 20 from members of the Paqtnkek First Nation community while she was an undergraduate student at St.FX University in Nova Scotia. Sarah’s passionate exploration of the human role and responsibility to care for the environment led her to pursue a B.A. Hon in Sociology with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies in Aquatic Resources. Upon graduation, she spent the next 13 years working across the non-profit sector, which included a pilot program for youth in the criminal justice system, the coordination of a national environmental internship program for university grads ; the management of the volunteer department at the Mustard Seed in Calgary; and the coordination of youth biking expeditions across Canada and Argentina for Two Wheel View. She has also volunteered her time with the Human Venture Institute (formerly Leadership Calgary), the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women (ANIW) and has biked in many of the 15 countries around the world that she has been fortunate enough to visit.
Tyra was born and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta and represents the Kainai Nation. Tyra is our summer student and works alongside Alison in Siksika as a program assistant. Tyra primarily works with the Meaningful Futures Program, and Girls group at the high school. She enjoys guitar, music, films, and reading. Tyra attends the University of Calgary and recently finished her first year in the Aboriginal Student Access Program. In the future, Tyra hopes to pursue a career in social work and work in Siksika Nation. Tyra loves to engage with her community and with youth. Upon working with Canada Bridges, she hopes to gain knowledge on facilitating and being a role model for youth.
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