Previous OCDSB Speaker Series Events

These are the Speaker Series events held in the 2022-2023 school year and earlier.

The Parent Network: Social Media and Your Kids Workshop - Media Smarts
April 19th, 2023

Understanding the connected world of kids and teens can be challenging for parents because adults don’t communicate online in the same way and are not necessarily using the same social media. Even more challenging is the reality that there’s always something new coming around the corner.

This virtual workshop helped parents and caregivers better understand how their kids are using social networking and provided them with tips and tools they can use to help them minimize negative experiences and maximize the positive opportunities that social media has to offer. Post-workshop activities provided in the workshop guide gave parents a chance to reflect and build on what they’ve learned in the presentation.

Supporting your Child's Mental Health and Well-Being: OCDSB Mental Health Team

January 23rd, 2023  

Click here to watch the recording

The last few years have created a new parenting landscape for everyone. This workshop helped identify what is mental health, what might be signs that your child is struggling with emerging or escalating mental health concerns and how you can communicate effectively with your child about their mental health and well being. 

Presenters provided concrete strategies to support parents and caregivers in engaging in these conversations from a place of empathy, validation, and compassion. This workshop also provided information on mental health services available to parents and  caregivers, and children both within and outside of the OCDSB.

Explore Digital Parenting: MediaSmarts

October 25, 2022
Click here to watch the recording

In this workshop, Matthew Johnson from MediaSmarts provided parents and guardians with information about managing kids’ screen time, helping to keep children safe online, and setting household internet rules.

MediaSmarts is a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and media literacy. MediaSmarts has been developing digital and media literacy programs and resources for Canadian homes, schools and communities since 1996. Their work provides adults with information and tools to help children and teens develop the necessary critical thinking skills for interacting with the media they love.

Love Builds Brains: Bringing Joy Back to Learning - Dr. Jean Clinton

August 31, 2022

Click here to watch the recording

Preparing for a new school year can bring a wide variety of emotions for parents, guardians, and children. As we looked to the year ahead, we wondered what we can do to support and nurture our children, and to help them to regain their joy and love of learning. In this virtual workshop, Dr Clinton shared her knowledge and expertise with families on how through compassion, connection, and hope, we can create conditions for our children to flourish and thrive.

About the Speaker

Dr. Jean Clinton is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster, division of Child Psychiatry. She is on staff at McMaster Children’s Hospital with cross appointments in Pediatrics and Family Medicine, and an Associate in the Department of Child Psychiatry at Sick Children’s Hospital. She is a member on the MindUP Scientific Advisory Board as well as a MindUP for Families Advisor.

She was a Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy, and is a Zero to Three Academy Fellow since 2013. She has been a consultant to children and youth mental health programs, child welfare, and primary care for over 30 years. Dr. Clinton is renowned nationally and internationally as an advocate for children’s issues and was appointed as an education advisor to the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Education 2014 - 2018. Her special interest lies in brain development, and the crucial role relationships and connectedness play. Jean champions the development of a national, comprehensive child well-being strategy including a system of early learning and care for all young children and their families, and is equally committed to ensuring that children’s and youths’ needs and voices are heard and respected.

What to Say When Nothing Seems to Work: Communication through Connection, with Guest Speaker Dr. Adele Lafrance

On June 9, 2022, this evidence-based virtual workshop provided parents and guardians with concrete strategies to encourage cooperation, support transitions, and respond to difficult emotions like worry, anger, hopelessness, and boredom, all while ensuring the relationships remain at the forefront.Watch the recording here

About the Speaker

Adele Lafrance, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, author, research scientist, and developer of emotion-focused treatment modalities, including Emotion-Focused School Support. She is a renowned speaker and has published extensively in the field of psychotherapy, emotion and health, including a clinical manual on Emotion-Focused Family Therapy published by the American Psychological Association and a popular parenting book titled: What to Say to Kids When Nothing Seems to Work. Dr. Lafrance also provides practical resources to parents and adult influencers at no cost at www.mentalhealth

Recognizing and Responding to Stress and Anxiety

On May 17, 2022, Dr. Kristin Schaub and Jennifer Glassman provided an informative webinar about recognizing and responding to stress and anxiety. In a time when many are discussing the levels of stress and anxiety felt in children, the session provided an opportunity for parents and caregivers to better understand the differences between stress, fear, and anxiety, and offered practical strategies for parents and caregivers to support their children with feelings of stress and worry. Watch the webinar recording here.

Technology and Youth - What Parents Need to Know

On November 25, 2021, the OCDSB hosted a Speaker Series Event with staff from Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services. The discussion was focused on helping youth maintain a balanced use of technology, and on what can be done if any problems arise. Watch the recording here.

About the Speakers

Sophie McNeil is a Registered Psychotherapist with a background in the criminal justice system. She has been counselling youth for the past 12 years, and has been with Rideauwood for 5 years. She currently works as a School-Based Counsellor and provides support to high school students and their parents.

Vanessa Turner has been working in the Family program at Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services since July of 2021. Vanessa is an experienced social service worker and counsellor with a demonstrated history of working with various community agencies. She obtained a Bachelor’s in Criminology from the University of Ottawa and is currently pursuing a graduate diploma in mental health and addiction counselling practices at Algonquin College.

OCDSB Indigenous Speakers Series - Gabrielle Fayant

Date: Tuesday, February 16th, 2021
11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. 

The OCDSB Indigenous Speakers Series proudly presented a webinar with Gabrielle Fayant for OCDSB staff and grade 7 to 12 students.

Gabrielle is an award-winning woman for her work in her community, her dedication to supporting young people, and amplifying grassroots efforts. Gabrielle is passionate about cultural resurgence, revitalization and restitution for all Indigenous peoples.  Gabrielle is the co-founder and co-CEO of an Indigenous youth-led and driven non-profit, Assembly of Seven Generations (A7G).

Emily Marie Seguin

Dates: Tuesday, January 12 and Tuesday, January 26, 2021
9:30 p.m.

The OCDSB Indigenous Speakers Series presented two webinars with Emily Marie Seguin, for OCDSB staff and students in JK to grade 6.

Emily Marie Seguin is an emerging performer, writer, theatre creator and visual artist. Hailing from the Oji-Algonquin Nations surrounding Golden Lake, she is a mixed two-spirit Anishinaabekwe, creating work to honor her ancestors and reclaim artistic spaces.

Additional Resources:

The Story of Sound Workshop Breakdown (English)

The Story of Sound Workshop Breakdown (French)

Screen Time with Dr. Michael Cheng

We would like to thank everyone who joined us on January 21st for our Speaker Series session on Screen Time During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Information for Parents and Caregivers with Dr. Michael Cheng.

For those who were unable to attend, the session was recorded and is available on our YouTube channel.


OCDSB Indigenous Speaker Series: Kanahus Manuel - December 11, 2020

This rare and special live stream featured Kanahus Manuel from the west coast (Secwepemc and Ktunaxa) who spoke to OCDSB students grades 9 to 12 and staff on current events taking place on Indigenous lands in British Columbia.

This session was moderated by Isaac Murdoch (Serpent River First Nation) and together they highlighted the connections between colonialism and climate change, resource extraction and violence against Indigenous peoples, and how students can play an important role in solidarity and action movements. Watch the recording here.

About the speaker: Kanahus Manuel, or Kanahus Freedom, is an Indigenous activist, birth keeper, and a member of the activist group Tiny House Warriors. Manuel is a Secwepemc and Ktunaxa mother of four Freedom Babies, children raised in the spirit of decolonization and free from the regulations of the Canadian federal and provincial governments.

Manuel decided to do this as an Indigenous woman to raise questions about the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples of Canada.  Manuel's grandfather George Manuel was the president of the National Indian Brotherhood, now the Assembly of First Nations and one of the co-founders of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, dedicated to the recognition of Indigenous rights worldwide. Manuel's father, Arthur Manuel wrote The Reconciliation Manifesto and Unsettling Canada and started the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade organization.

Resilience with Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 7:00 PM

The OCDSB was thrilled to present a Speaker Series on Resilience with Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe on December 9th.

Transformational, engaging, and thought-provoking, Dr. Robyne’s session provided practical strategies grounded in global research and case studies that help foster resiliency within others and ourselves. Dr. Robyne discussed the core traits of resilience, steps to take when faced with a difficult situation, barriers and facilitators, work and productivity, and more.

For those who were unable to attend, the recording of the event will be available on our YouTube channel until January 9th, 2021.

Additional Resources

Guide to Resilient Children
Balancing and Enjoying Life with Work

From Worried to Well: Supporting Your Child at Home and at School

Monday, Aug 24, 2020 at 7:00 PM

In his engaging presentation Dr. David Tranter discussed critical strategies to promote student and parent well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. He provided strategies for both parents and educators, and emphasized the importance of listening to your child's feelings, establishing a routine, and setting a good example. Video Recording

Additional Resources: Pre-Transition: Letting Go

Technology Misuse and Mental Health

Thursday, March 12, 2020, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Henry Larsen Elementary School, 1750 Sunview Dr., Gloucester, On, K1C5B3

Speaker Dr. Michael Cheng, a child and family psychiatrist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), discussed the many things that we can do as families, communities and a society in order to reduce our screen addiction, and reconnect to sleep, nature and one another. Watch the recording here

Resources: Presentation (Slides)

UNSTOPPABLE YOU with Unstoppable Tracy Schmitt

Thursday, March 5th, 2020
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Gloucester High School - 2060 Ogilvie Road

In an engaging presentation Unstoppable Tracy reminded us about the need to set high expectations and to take extraordinary action to achieve success. Some important take away thoughts were:

  • The difference between failure and success is one more try
  • Find your mutual connection when communicating with others
  • Nothing will change if you never take a chance.

Vaping - What it is and How to Parent It

Thursday, February 6th, 2020
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sir Robert Borden High School - 131 Greenbank Road

About 52 participants attended this information session. Krista Oswald from Ottawa Public Health provided parents with facts on vaping, vape products, health effects and what is being seen every day in schools. She also discussed strategies and tips to help parents have an open talk at home. 


Parenting in Ottawa

Protecting Your Child: Reducing the Risk of Sexual Abuse

Karyn Kibsey, Canadian Centre for Child Protection
Thursday, 10 October 2019, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Earl of March Secondary School
4 The Pkwy, Kanata, ON K2K 1Y4

This informative session, that had close to 100 participants, focussed on helping parents/guardians better understand the issue of child sexual abuse. The topics covered included the scope of child sexual abuse, personal boundaries, adult supervision; children’s use of internet-enabled devices, concerning sexual behavior in children, what to talk to your child about, and reporting. 

Given below are resources for this topic:

PDFs: 1. Commit to Kids at the OCDSB 

             2. Protecting Your Child (Canadian Centre for Child Protection)

Websites: Canadian Centre for Child Protection, Commit2kids, Protect Kids Online, Kids in the Know, Billy Buddy, Cyber Tip, Need Help Now, Missing Kids.

Concussion Management  - Dr. Andree-Anne Ledoux

Wednesday, 25 September 2019, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School

149 Berrigan Dr, Nepean, ON K2J 5C6

Attendees had the opportunity to learn the causes of a concussion, how to recognize a concussion, neurobiology of a concussion, symptoms, recovery trajectory and concussion management protocols on return to learn and play. You will find the presentation here.

When Technology Takes Over: Navigating Through the Teen Years

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sir Robert Borden High School - 131 Greenbank Road

This session offered parents practical strategies to encourage healthy use of technology in teens. It was led by Liz Parsons and Matt Young, Youth Service Managers from Rideauwood Addiction & Family Services.

Liz and Matt emphasized that technology addiction' is a general term that can include excessive behaviours related to playing video games; accessing social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat; watching videos on YouTube; excessive texting; smartphone overuse, and more.

They encouraged parents to try to acknowledge the good as well as the bad in conversations with their kids, so that the conversations aren't only about the negative. It's also best to set an example for the kids; if they see their parents on their phone constantly, then it will be harder to reinforce boundaries on the kids' phone use.

Another important point was that there is no set time limit for overexposure; it differs from person to person. However it is best to monitor the behaviour and routine of the youth, and see if there are any changes from their time spent online. If they continue a healthy routine of social activity, sports, and school, then their use of technology is likely not altering their behaviour.

Autism: An Information Night for Parents

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sir Robert Borden High School - 131 Greenbank Road

Supporting the Mental Health of Students with Autism - Jonathan A. Weiss, Ph.D., C.Psych

Individuals with autism often struggle with managing anxiety, anger, or depression, and increasingly, interventions are being used to help address these difficulties. However, these treatments are best provided within a context of promoting thriving and positive growth more generally in people across the spectrum.

How can we promote positive outcomes in youth with autism? We can promote positive outcomes by focusing on indicators such as happiness, satisfaction and resilience on the school level, parent/ family level and individual level.

  • At the school level: support the development of a school culture, policy and practice that promotes school connectedness. A focus on making the school feel inclusive regardless of label.  
  • At the family level: connectedness and affect regulation. Parent efficacy in managing emotional reactivity. Promote adolescents capacity for regulation. Improve parent-adolescent attachment.
  • At the individual/student level: participating with other positive peers (ie: mentorship programs). 

Additional presentations were given on the following:

ABA in Schools
Planning for Successful Transitions
Social Emotional Learning Programs
First Steps to School Success
; and
OCDSB Autism Team

UNSTOPPABLE YOU with Unstoppable Tracy Schmitt

Thursday, February 28th, 2019 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Earl of March Secondary School
4 The Parkway, Kanata

Tracy Schmitt, appropriately known as Unstoppable Tracy is four way amputee from birth, brings "inspirational" to a whole new level!

In a very dynamic presentation, she shared with us the 3 keys to becoming an unstoppable you - her "Limb-it-less" Secret:

  • Exceed uncertainty
  • Embrace possibility
  • Earn independence

Tracy reminded us about the need to set high expectations and to take extraordinary action to achieve success. Some top take away thoughts from her presentation:

  • Who you surround yourself with is who you become;
  • We are never alone, there are lifelines all around us, we just need to use them.
  • Don't avoid failure;
  • What you focus on grows (positively or negatively);
  • A good excuse limits you; when you have no excuses you have no limits;
  • When people see you in action; they act!
  • The kinds of questions you ask determines the kinds of answers you find!

Cannabis Parent Information Nights

Recreational cannabis was legalized on October 17, 2018 by the Federal Government. Ontario’s Government for the People has put rules in place to keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, keep our roads safe and combat the illegal market. You must be 19 and older to buy, use, possess and grow recreational cannabis. This is the same as the minimum age for the sale of tobacco and alcohol in Ontario.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board remains committed to maintaining school and work environments smoke-free. Recreational cannabis possession and/or use is not and will not be permitted anywhere on OCDSB property.

For answers to common questions, check out this  Facebook Live video or visit the Ottawa Public Health - Parenting website.

Cannabis Resources

Concussion Management

In honour of the first Rowan’s Law Day, we were extremely privileged to have Gordon & Kathleen Stringer and Dr. Vassilyadi; Pediatric Neurosurgeon, CHEO; Founder, CHEO Concussion Clinic; Ottawa Chapter Director for ThinkFirst/ Parachute; join us for our first Speakers Series of the school year. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from Rowan’s parents, who have driven Ontario to take the lead in concussion awareness and prevention, and to learn about concussion management, causes, symptoms, and recovery from Dr. Vassilyadi. We'd like to thank everyone who came out and made our first session of the year successful.

Please click here for Dr. Vassilyadi's presentation and here for the Stringer's presentation. 

Self-regulation for Children and Parents 

April 19, 2018 and November 30, 2017

Dr. Susan Hopkins of The MEHRIT Centre

Equity in Action - Chris D’souza

April 5, 2018

Understanding Mental Health and Addiction in Youth – Coping and Resilience

March 1, 2018
Mary Alexandrou from
CHEO’s YouthNet and Natalie Markoff from PLEO

Social Networking & Online Safety - Paul Davis

October 5, 2017

Speaking out against Racism and Intolerance - Eva Olsson

April 12, 2017

DJ Cunningham, Learnstyle Technology

April 7, 2016

Understanding Concussions — Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms: Dr. Michael Vassilyadi

October 29, 2015

Talk With Our Kids About Money - Canadian Foundation for Economic Education

April 15, 2015.

Developing Self-Regulation in Children: D Stuart Shanker

March 27, 2014

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