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IFCO 2020 - Peers are doing it for themselves

Start Date:11/18/2020

Start Time:11:00 AM EST

Duration:60 minutes


Peers are doing it for themselves: Conversations with leaders from care about the different ways of doing youth engagement & empowerment

Around the world, young people in and from care are leading movements for change. This peer facilitated and led panel highlights the young leaders who are building a movement for change in Canada’s child welfare system. Join us for a frank and enlightening conversation with young leaders from care on the ways they practice youth engagement and empowerment within their communities, from grassroots community-based organizing and formalized networks to advising government from within. You’ll learn about the strengths they rely on, challenges they face in their advocacy work, youth engagement
and empowerment best practices, and the lessons these young leaders have learned along the way.

IFCO 2020 Organizing Partners:

International Foster Care Organisation
Child Welfare League of Canada
Youth in Care Canada
Canadian Association of Social Workers
Centre for Research on Children and Families
Canadian Foster Family Association
Équipe de recherche sur le placement et l’adoption

If you're already registered for the IFCO 2020 - Peers are doing it for themselves webcast, click below:


First Name
Last Name
Email Address


Melanie Doucet

Dr. Melanie Doucet is French Acadian and originally from unceded traditional Mi'kmaq territory (Tracadie). She currently resides in the unceded Indigenous lands of the traditional territory of both the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) and the Anishinabeg (Algonquin) peoples (Tiohtià:ke/Montréal). A former youth in care, she has dedicated her work to improving the lives of youth in care for over 15 years. Melanie is a recent PhD graduate and Sessional Instructor at McGill University's School of Social Work, a member of the Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF), Part-Time Faculty at Concordia's Department of Applied Human Sciences, and co-founder of the Montreal Youth in Care Alumni Student Association (MYCASA). Together with her lived experience in care, Melanie’s exceptional leadership and research skills make her an expert champion in the child welfare policy-shaping process. She continues to work as part of the provincial and national youth in care advocacy community on child protection policy reform initiatives, and is currently working with the National Council of Youth in Care Advocates on the development of national standards for the transition to adulthood of youth in care.

Zo Bourgeois

Zo Bourgeois (she/her) lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, which is in the traditional unceded territory of the Wəlastəkwiyik (Maliseet) and Mi’kmaq Peoples. Zo has been the Program Coordinator for the New Brunswick Youth in Care Network (NBYICN) since 2016 and a voice for the New Brunswick Adoption Foundation since 2007 for foster children and older child adoptions. Zoe grew up in the foster care system and was eventually adopted at the age of 15. Zo’s passion and dedication are fundamental in making the lives of children and youth in the foster care system in New Brunswick and in Canada better.

Ashley Dawn Louise Bach

Ashley (she/they) is a queer, 2S youth from care who grew up on Katzie, Kwantlen, and Matsqui territory in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. She now lives on unceded Algonquin territory in Ottawa, Ontario. Ashley is Ojibway and a member of the Mishkeegogamang First Nation located in Northwestern Ontario, as well as Cantonese and white. Ashley recently served as the President and Secretary of Youth in Care Canada, and is currently a member of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation's Oshkaatisak (All Young Peoples') Council. In her leadership positions and personal life, Ashley works to address issues related to youth in and from care, in particular the challenges faced by Indigenous youth. Ashley is committed to uplifting fellow youth in and from care as well as advocating for child welfare reform across Canada that is guided by those with lived experience.

Dylan Cohen

Dylan Cohen (he/him) is a former youth in care and community organizer who grew up on Treaty One territory, in Winnipeg. As a Métis young person, Dylan grew up in a system plagued by inadequate resources, irresponsible outcomes, and a serious need for change. As a change-maker, Dylan brings contemporary organizing principles to the longstanding foster kid advocacy present across Turtle Island, joining peers across the country in provincial and federal child welfare policy conversations. Dylan seeks to bring justice to youth who’ve left care through creative policy organizing and has led campaigns to support youth with guaranteed, comprehensive supports after leaving care. Dylan’s cutting his teeth as the Senior Community Engagement Specialist with United Way of the Lower Mainland and was recently a lead on the Fostering Change policy campaign. He lives in East Vancouver on the unceded traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Wautuh peoples. His work with Fostering Change innovatively brought hundreds of young people to the public policy process and directly to decision makers through creative direct action, public relations and media strategy, and attentive engagement of allies in the work. Dylan’s supported in his work with youth from care across the province through mentors, community organizers, and teams of youth leaders seeking to change outcomes for all youth from care. Before Fostering Change, Dylan founded and led public policy campaigns, notably25not21, which challenged provincial policy through creative direct action and strategic storytelling. Since leaving Manitoba, he’s worked with youth in various capacities and was’s Project Coordinator. Dylan is a trained facilitator, researcher, a public speaker, and an advocate.

Jennifer Dupuis

Jennifer Dupuis is a cis female, bi-racial member of the African-Canadian community of descendants of the Black Loyalists, and an alumnus of care from Quebec. She currently resides on the unceded traditional territories of the St. Lawrence Iroquois, Haudenosaunee and Mohawk peoples. She holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Social Work from McGill University. Jennifer is the co-founder and current President of CARE Jeunesse, Quebec’s youth in care network and is a board member of the Child Welfare League of Canada. Jennifer is passionate about empowering youth in/from care and providing them with a platform to share their voices on issues that affect them. In her professional role, she has helped to develop the Youth Empowerment Program at Batshaw Youth and Family Centres, has worked in residential care and as a frontline Youth Protection Social Worker; she is currently a Clinical Activity Specialist in the Montreal youth protection system. In recognition of her work, Jennifer was the recipient of the 2018 “Prix de Leviers” from the Quebec National Assembly and the 2019 “Montreal Community Cares” award.

Meredith Graham

Meredith (she/her) is a grateful visitor on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded lands of the Coast Salish Peoples – most specifically the qiqéyt (Qayqayt), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish). She is a person of colour, proudly, from government care, a spoken word artist, a youth transition conference (YTC) facilitator with the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, and an advocate for change inside our child welfare, mental health, and educational systems. Meredith holds a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care Counselling and an extended Diploma in Performing Arts. She is a survivor of many adversities and journeys with five mental illnesses; she weaves those stories into her keynote presenting, workshop facilitating, and consulting. She is a recipient of the Coast Mental Health’s 2016 Courage to Come Back Award. Meredith believes in the possibility and responsibility of community in becoming instruments in a person's symphony of resiliency.

Cheyanne Ratnam

Cheyanne is Jaffna Thamizh (Tamil), Dravidian, and is a Child Advocate who has lived expertise and professional experience in child welfare and homelessness. She currently resides in Scarborough, Ontario, which is in the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples (Treaty 9). Among her many roles, Cheyanne is the Co-founder and Executive Lead of the Ontario Children's Advancement Coalition (OCAC), and a provincial representative on the National Council of Youth in Care Advocates. Cheyanne is highly passionate about youth homelessness, young people in/from the child welfare system, educational outcomes of marginalized and oppressed populations, childhood sexual abuse, youth development, mobilization and ethical engagement, equity issues and human rights issues.

Rachel Gouin

Rachel holds a PhD in Education from McGill University and a Masters in Political Management from Carleton University. An entrepreneurial non-profit leader, Rachel is known for rallying people to a common cause. She most recently served as Director of Research and Public Policy with Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, where she advocated for the health and well-being of children and youth and raised millions for innovative programs. Rachel has extensive experience in government relations, fundraising, and partnerships.