Who Are we?
We are artists, educators, and mental health advocates.
Michelle Peek, Founder + Creative Director
As a community‐engaged educator and photographer, I am passionate about the role of art in mental health struggles, and community‐based social justice projects. My family has been involved in mental health advocacy work from the time we lost my brother to suicide 18 years ago. Since then, I have completed a PhD dissertation about love and belonging, and what it means to exist alongside one another in this global world; facilitated art‐based workshops with the intention of honouring participants' voices and individual stories; honed my own professional practice as a portrait photographer; and taught at the university level always with an eye toward social justice and empowering young people.
Having witnessed, lived through, and experienced the negative effects of shame (the belief that one is unworthy of voice and connection) on a person's well‐being and livelihood, and given how ubiquitous shame is in so many struggles young people face today (perfectionism, anxiety, depression, body image, addiction, bullying, racism, sexism, and oppression of many kinds, etc.), I feel quite passionately that a space where young people are given the tools and support to create in community will help build resilience and better prepare them to be engaged and creative citizens and innovators.
Jamie Ashforth, co-Founder + Advisory Board member
As a visual artist, I believe that art making is a language like none other; a powerful storytelling medium that harnesses an unparalleled capacity for self-reflection and self-acceptance. I hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia University and have exhibited in a number of group and solo exhibitions in Central and Eastern Canada. Further experiences include leading in‐school children’s arts‐based education, adult cross‐disciplinary workshop facilitation and management experience in the film and television industry. My interest in mental health advocacy emerged out my own personal growth work and its intersection with my art practice. I now know that nuances in creation have potent and important ways of abstracting meaning and experience so that it can be released and shared.
Liz Jackson, co-Founder + Advisory Board member
I am a community-engaged teacher and researcher, and a facilitator - and advocate - of art based community-making. In personal and professional contexts, I have witnessed and experienced the profound and powerful ways in which creative practice can nurture connection, enable expression, and increase self-confidence and acceptance of others. My work is informed by a deep commitment to ethical and sustained collaboration and to justice-oriented program design and implementation. I have extensive experience in university teaching and research, arts-based research methods, and curriculum and program design. I am a lover of song and story, and find great inspiration in the work of Art Not Shame to support participants' self-expression and creative exploration.
GEORGIA SIMMS, Facilitation, program design, strategic direction
I was instantly drawn to this work and believe that our mental health deserves attention, compassion, and new kinds of conversations. I am passionate about supporting wellness by creating learning spaces that invite inquiry, discovery, and reflection about the relationships that we have with ourselves and others. As a dancer, movement to music has always offered healing, joy, an incredible sensation of physical empowerment and an opportunity for embodied self-expression. The dance that I have learned, in artistic apprenticeships and ongoing professional development, and that I continue to teach is a language that promotes physical and emotional understanding through a combination of technical, improvisational, and choreographic methods. It is a world of powerful storytelling capacity that begins where words end. I have experience with facilitation in different realms, from the governance of natural resources to arts-based research methodologies, and continue to offer workshops at the university level that promote interdisciplinary thinking and ways of generating engagement that is active, critical, and energized.
LISA BELLON, ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST, GUELPH GENERAL HOSPITAL, RSW, CPCC
Lisa is a coach, consultant, educator and workshop facilitator passionate about assisting individuals, teams and organizations in reaching their potential and leading healthier, more productive and fulfilling lives.
- She has over 20 years of experience in healthcare and community-based organizations, specializing in the areas of Mental Health and Addictions, Organizational Development, Conflict Resolution and Effective Communication, Leadership and Team Development and Wellness Promotion.
- Lisa holds a Master of Education specializing in Workplace, Learning and Change from the University of Toronto along with a Bachelor of Social Work from McMaster University; and she holds a professional coaching certification through the Coaches Training Institute.
KATIE MAJOR, EDUCATOR
- Katie obtained a Bachelor of Education from Nipissing University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance Dance from Ryerson University.
- She has been a teacher with the York Region District School Board for the last 8 years. She is very grateful to have her dream job; combining her love of learning and her passion for the arts, teaching dance at the secondary school level. One of Katie's favourite components of the work is observing how her students become empathetic story-tellers as they find their voice and confidence in the creative classroom.
- Katie is so honoured and excited to be a small part of Art Not Shame; an initiative that (in her professional opinion) is so desperately needed in the school systems.
Christine McCormack, Psychotherapist + Artist
Christine works with people experiencing a range of difficulties including anxiety, mood, depression, trauma, suicidal ideation, and personality disorders.
- Christine is dedicated to lifelong learning: Christine holds an undergraduate degree in psychology; a Master's degree in counselling; a Diplomate in Logotherapy; is a Clinical Trauma Professional; a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist; is trained in suicide intervention; is an internationally accredited member of the Viktor Frankl Institute in Vienna, Austria, Logotherapy Center in Ottawa Canada; and holds several advanced training certifications in the therapy modalities such as Family of Origin work, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Emotion Regulation Therapy (ERG).
- Christine is also an artist.
Chantelle Quesnelle, Registered Psychotherapist
Chantelle is a mental health professional who currently works in schools to support children and school teams with childhood mental, emotional, and behavioural health.
- Chantelle has dedicated her career to supporting children and youth mental wellness in a variety of capacities including individual and family counselling, workshops, and mental health advocacy work. Chantelle was a guest speaker for the last two years of the James Peek Memorial Golf Classic.
- Chantelle is a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. She completed her Master of Science in Counselling Psychology from the University of Calgary and has an Undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Guelph. Chantelle has special interest in Mindfulness and Emotion Focused approaches.
- As a mental health advocate, Chantelle is constantly normalizing and promoting mental health through art, photography, and outdoor pursuits. She is active in the outdoor industry and uses her art to raise money for both local and national mental health initiatives.
Zoe Warne, Co-Founder & Director, August
- Zoë is Co-Founder of August, an award-winning, BCorp Certified, technology-led creative company.
- A fast-moving, quick-thinking creative with a deep communications background, Zoë chooses to meld her business nous with her philanthropic heart.
- She has a particular focus on the Arts, Education and Government sectors, working with clients such as Engineers Without Borders Canada, Australian National Academy of Music, RSPCA, Anglicare Victoria, Yarra Valley Water, Major Projects Victoria, Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Arts Mental Health Wellbeing Collective, and Pantera Press.
- Vice-President of Australia’s Interactive Media Industry Assoc. for 4 years, she moved to Canada in 2016 to establish August’s first international office in Toronto.
Lisa Weaver, PhD, psychologist
- For over 15 years, Lisa has been helping children, adolescents and families to overcome serious difficulties and move forward with confidence.
- Her skills were developed through formal education at Queen’s University (BScH in psychology) and McGill University (PhD in Clinical Psychology), and internships at children’s hospitals in Hamilton, Ottawa, and Montreal. She has experience working in public school boards and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
- Lisa is currently working exclusively in private practice at the Chancellors Way Medical Arts Centre in Guelph. She has a special interest in helping clients with anxiety, shame issues, and other mental health concerns.