Family Conference 2023

The 2023 Family Conference was held on November 4, 2023, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Brookfield High School. The theme was Educate, Engage, Empower - Enhancing Learning Together. This event was organized by OCDSB's Parent Involvement Committee (PIC) and OCDSB’s Family and Community Engagement (FACE).

We were pleased to have Ontario’s first Poet Laureate, noted author, arts educator, and community leader Randell Adjei as the inspirational keynote speaker. Following the keynote, we hosted 15 workshops, including several offered in multiple languages. 

We had around 230 participants, including parents, caregivers, students, staff and community partners and it was wonderful to see everyone connecting with each other. We thank you for attending this event.  

We owe a huge thanks to all our presenters for taking the time out and making this event a huge success! We also thankful to the community partners who participated in the Community Marketplace and provided participants with information and resources.  

This event would not have been possible without the support of OCDSB staff and student volunteers. We thank you for making this event a great experience for the participants.

Please find below the details of the keynote, the individual workshops and their presentations where available. 

Keynote Speaker - Randell Adjei 

Randell Adjei is an entrepreneur, speaker and spoken word practitioner who uses his gifts to empower the message of alchemy. He was recently appointed Poet Laureate of Ontario and is the founder of one of Toronto's largest youth-led initiatives: Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (R.I.S.E Edutainment). In 2018, R.I.S.E received the Toronto Arts Foundation, Mayor’s Youth Arts Award. He is also the author of I Am Not My Struggles, a powerful anthology released in 2018. Randell was named CBC’s Metro Morning’s Torontonian of the Year in 2015 and NOW Magazines Local Hero in May 2017. In 2020 Randell introduced President Barack Obama at the Economic Club of Canada.


Supporting Your Child's Mental Health and Well-Being

OCDSB Mental Health Team

The demands of parenting have changed in the last few years since the global pandemic. This workshop, through the lens of equity, anti-oppression and anti-Black racism and discrimination, explained the components of mental health; identified the warning signs which indicate a child may be struggling with emerging or escalating mental health concerns; offered strategies to effectively communicate with children about their mental health and well-being using empathy, validation and compassion; and shared information on supportive mental health services for parents and children within and outside the OCDSB. 


Recognizing and Responding to Stress and Anxiety

OCDSB Mental Health Team

At a time when many children are reporting higher levels of stress and anxiety, this workshop provided an opportunity for parents and caregivers to learn about the differences between stress, fear, and anxiety, and the ways in which they can support children experiencing these feelings.


The Parent/Caregiver-Child Connection

OCDSB Mental Health Team

Parenting today can be a wonderful and exhausting journey. As parents and caregivers, we often feel pressured to ensure that our children are prepared for everyday challenges.Traditional approaches to parenting, however, can often leave us (and our children) feeling disconnected and discouraged. This presentation presented new approaches to parenting that are centered on building strength and fortitude in our children by focusing on the parent-child connection.


Empowering Parents and Caregivers as Advocates

Parents for Diversity

This workshop empowered parents and caregivers to become effective advocates for their children's education. Presenters focused on understanding educational rights, navigating the school system, accessing resources and support, and building partnerships with school staff. 


Building Resilience in Children

Dr. Aisha Sherazi

This workshop provided parents and caregivers with strategies to help their children develop resilience and coping skills. Presenters shared information and resources on fostering a growth mindset, teaching problem-solving and decision-making skills, promoting self-esteem and positive self-image, and nurturing emotional intelligence.


Supporting Kindergarten Success (Arabic: 10:25 a.m. - 11:10 a.m. & 11:20 a.m. - 12:05 p.m., English: 12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.)

OCDSB Mental Health Team

This workshop was designed to support parents and caregivers of kindergarten children in gaining a deeper understanding of the factors that contribute to a successful kindergarten experience. It emphasized the crucial partnership between the school and home in a child's educational journey. Parents explored the concept of self-regulation and its significance; there was a particular focus on understanding co-regulation skills. The topics included an in-depth look at the learning environment, the importance of routines and expectations, the intricate link between language and emotions, and practical strategies to effectively support kindergarten students in these critical areas. By fostering this understanding and collaboration between parents and educators, the workshop empowered parents with the knowledge and tools needed to enhance their child's kindergarten success. This session was provided in English and Arabic and was accessible for parents who are English Language Learners.

Presentation (English)

Supporting English Language Learners (Somali: 10:25 a.m. - 11:10 a.m., Arabic: 11:20 a.m. - 12:05 p.m., Pashto: 12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.) 

OCDSB Program and Learning Innovation

This workshop provided strategies and resources to support parents of English language learners (ELLs). It covered topics such as language acquisition, bilingualism, cultural integration, and accessing language support services in the school and community.

Presentation (English)

Special Education and Inclusion 

OCDSB Learning Support Services

This workshop educated families about special education programs, services, and resources available within the OCDSB. Presenters shared information on inclusive practices, individualized education plans (IEPs), and strategies to support children with diverse learning needs.

Engaging In Your Child's Learning


This workshop provided parents and caregivers with tools to support their children's growth and academic success. Practical strategies and tips, including building partnerships with educators through effective communication, empowered parents and caregivers to actively participate in their child's educational journey and foster a love for learning.



Problematic Use of Gaming and Technology: Prevention and Caregiver Guidance

(English and Somali)

Rideauwood Addictions and Family Services

This workshop provided parents and caregivers with an understanding of addiction and problematic behaviors related to gaming and technology use in youth. Counsellors shared risk factors, warning signs, and helpful tips and protective factors to support your child’s healthy use of technology. Presenters reviewed programs and resources that parents and caregivers can access to support their child.  

Multicultural Liaison Officers (English, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Farsi, Hindi, Urdu, Somali, Pashto)

Ottawa Community Immigrant Services (OCISO) 

This workshop provided attendees with information on Multicultural Liaison Officers (i.e., settlement workers in schools, also known as MLOs), and how they support newcomers adapting to the Ontario education system by addressing school-related barriers and providing services in 20 different languages. Participants learnt about the wide range of specific services and supports available through MLOs, including needs assessments, referrals, settlement plans, case management, orientation about life in Canada and services available, language and cultural interpretation, conflict resolution, advocacy, and building community connections. Presenters also shared about the Youth OCISO program, which works to set high school students up for success by promoting essential settlement skills and positive mindsets. 

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