VRA Canada is pleased to announce that our annual conference will be held in person at the DoubleTree Hotel in Downtown Toronto, this June 1 – 3. We hope you are as excited as we are to be able to gather again to CONNECT with our colleagues, LEARN from some of the profession’s best and SHARE some good times together again.
That’s why this year’s conference theme is CELEBRATE! We look forward to celebrating with each other again. Let’s celebrate what the pandemic taught us and make sure we take those lessons forward as we build and expand our profession – return-to-work and disabilities take on a much broader meaning with the new lens we bring to our work from our own experiences, observations and techniques developed during COVID.
To book your hotel room at the DoubleTree Downtown Toronto, please click here.
Breakfast and Registration
Track 1, Track 2: Keynote - Dr. Chika Oriuwa - Diversity and Inclusion
Track 1: Remote Services in VR CAVEWAS (Fran Smith)
Track 2: Tumover Tsunami, (Sylvie Desjardins VRA)
Track 1: Future of Voc Eval panel (CAVEWAS)
Track 2: Living with Mental Illness: a Personal Journey (Nikki Langdon)
Track 1: CAVEWAS AGM
2:30 - 3:00 PM
3:00 - 3:45
Track 1: New Veteran's Affairs VR Program (speaker(s) TBC VRA)
Track 2: CAPS- CAVEWAS
Track 1, Track 2: CAVEWAS Board Meeting
Breakfast and Registration
Track 1, Track 2: Keynote (Danielle Campo)
Track 1, Track 2: Changing RTW Panel (Tracey Kibble, Moderator with Steve Ogden, Renee Daudlin-lacobelli, other panelists TBC-VRA)
Track 1, Track 2: Mental Health Commission - cultural sensitivity to LGBTQSI
NEW CEU and Member Portal Demo
VRA Annual General Meeting
Breakfast and Networking
Track 1: Guided Meditation/ Mindfulness (Kim Davies)
Track 2: Yoga (Rebecca Rodgers)
Track 1: Life Care Planning (Warren Comeau and Sean FitzGerald CAVEWAS)
Track 2: Working with Gen Z VRA (Tara Beaton)
Final wrap up
Meeting of VRA Board –
½ hr over lunch
Keynote - Diversity and Inclusion: The Evolution of a Black Female Doctor and Advocate
Dr. Chika Oriuwa
9:00 - 10:30 AM ET
One of Time magazine’s “2021 Next Generational Leaders”, Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa is an accomplished physician, spoken word poet, and advocate for racialized and marginalized populations. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, where she was named valedictorian of her graduating class — the first Black woman to be recognized as sole valedictorian within the faculty. Dedicated to the mentorship of racialized youth and the advancement of the Black community and beyond, she speaks to addressing inequities and advancing efforts in wellness and mental health, diversity and inclusion, and women empowerment.
Currently, Oriuwa is a resident doctor in psychiatry at U of T, where she's aiming to complete further specialist training in neuro-psychiatry and neuro-inflammatory diseases. As a first-generation Nigerian-Canadian woman, and the only Black medical student in her cohort, Oriuwa has become a vocal advocate for improving disparities in Black health and confronting institutional discrimination. She has been invited to give national and international keynotes, seminars, lectures, and panelist contributions on the topic of advancing equity in medicine, women’s empowerment, mental health and wellness, global health, and her journey as an underrepresented minority in medicine.
As an ambassador and educator of the Black Student Application Program (BSAP) at U of T, Oriuwa has had the privilege to speak on national and international platforms, through various media syndications, as a champion of inclusion, diversity, and empowerment of marginalized voices. In 2020, the Temerty Faculty of Medicine admitted the largest group of Black medical students in Canadian history, a reflection of the success of the BSAP and the power of Oriuwa’s narrative to create paradigm shifts in powerful spaces.
Oriuwa is also a professional spoken word artist. Working under the Hamilton Youth Poets, she has earned her place as a national slam poetry finalist twice. In 2017, she released her renowned slam poem “Woman, Black” and in 2018 published her seminal article In My White Coat, I am More Black than Ever for FLARE magazine’s Black History Month campaign. She has also been featured on CBC’s The National, CTV News, CP24, Toronto Star, Time magazine, and TODAY, amongst others. She is slated to release her first memoir with HarperCollins in 2023.
A recipient of numerous prestigious awards and honours, Oriuwa was named on Maclean’s Power 50 List in 2022 and was recognized as one of Best Health Magazine's“2020 Women of the Year”. She was also recently honoured in Mattel’s #ThankYouHeroes campaign alongside five other women with a one-of-a-kind Barbie doll made in her image to commemorate her contributions as a frontline healthcare worker. Oriuwa also serves on Indigo's board of directors, using her expertise to inform their efforts in advancing equity and curating spaces of wellness and inclusion.
There is a disparity in healthcare, one that Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa experienced firsthand as the only Black medical student in her cohort at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine.
In this eye-opening keynote, Oriuwa shares her evolution as an advocate for diversity and inclusion in medicine. She will explore the historic barriers in place; the differential experiences of Black medical trainees; the important role diversity plays in healthcare and in addressing Black mental health issues; and how to be an effective ally for the black community.
CAVEWAS - Remote Services in VR: Designing for Inclusivity
Dr. Fran Smith
10:45 AM - 12:15 PM ET
Expanded opportunities to deliver remote services in VR are on the horizon. Understanding how to assure that these services are designed for accessibility and inclusivity are necessary for consumer access and employment success. This presentation will focus on exploring some of the core opportunities and challenges that have evolved in remote learning and how considering best practices for inclusive and accessible design can be employed for greater success. Participants learn about best practices in designing for accessibility across a range of disabilities and choosing online tools that promote inclusivity and learning for all.
Frances Smith, Ed.D, is an educator and consultant based in Richmond, VA, USA. She has taught as an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University since the late 1980’s including coursework in vocational evaluation, report development, work sample design, technology and disabilities and universal design for learning (UDL). Dr. Smith holds an M.A in Collaborative Vocational Evaluation, Ed.S in Transition Special Education, and Ed.D in Higher Education Administration, all from GW University. Dr. Smith is a former UDL Fellow (2011-12), member of the CAST National Faculty cadre and, provides training nationally and internationally on universal design for learning. She is a past Board Member-at-Large and Past-President (2010) of the Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment Professionals Association (VECAP) and has also held numerous national leadership positions in VEWAA. She was a prior Chair and Commissioner with the former Commission on Certification of Work Adjustment and Vocational Evaluation Specialists and co-founder of the former Interdisciplinary Council on Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment. More details can be found at http://www.recognizingdifferences.com
10:45 AM - 12:15 PM ET
You’ve heard it and now you’re noticing it: since the beginning of the pandemic, the job market has tremendously changed. Job losses, popularity increase of remote work sectors seriously affected, unprepared and discouraged employers, and a new rise for online training. We are experiencing a massive wave of changes called the turnover tsunami.
More than ever, people on the job market need our support. As vocational rehabilitation professionals, how can we adapt to this new reality? What do you think will be the impact of the pandemic on the job market over the next few years? And what does it mean for our clients?
Sylvie Desjardins is the owner of NxCareer, a Career Specialist and Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Professional (CVRP).
With more than 12 years of experience in career development, she developed her expertise by completing a master's degree in career counselling at the Université de Moncton and by participating in several training courses and networking events over the years. This has allowed her to better support adults in career transition and help organizations find the employees who best meet their needs.
Sylvie has also been a Canadian Certified Counselor (CCC) since 2011 and a Licensed Counseling Therapist (LCT) since 2017. Finally, she became a VRA member and a Vocational Rehabilitation Professional (CVRP) in 2018 after passing the national exam. Sylvie loves sharing her expertise and knowledge through coaching, mentoring and guest speaking engagements. As a trainer and speaker, she is recognized for developing instructive, practical workshops tainted with a bit of humour. After all, her personality type is ESTJ and she thrives on the energy she gets from being on stage! In fact, you may have seen her on a stage across New Brunswick, Prince-Edouard-Island or Quebec.
As a business owner and career specialist, Sylvie has appeared in a few special bulletins for Acadie Nouvelle (provincial journal) and has been invited on several occasions to the CBC / Radio-Canada station as a career expert. In 2020, she also received a 20 under 40 award presented by the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce. Sylvie also sits on the board of directors of the New-Brunswick Economic Council, on the membership committee of VRA Canada and is a proud mentor for CARDE, a mentoring program for New Brunswick entrepreneurs.
CAVEWAS - Panel Discussion- Future of Vocational Evaluation
Marg Smith, Sean FitzGerald, Lisa Blakeney and Jennifer Chladny
1:00 - 2:30 PM ET
What is the future of Vocational Evaluation?
Members of this panel will discuss the future of vocational evaluation and the critical need to provide evidence of its importance and benefits. At this time, both Canada and the United States are faced with challenges to meet this need in a variety of settings. There are persons and organizations that feel vocational evaluation and career assessment services can be accomplished effectively by using one assessment tool, survey, test, kit, etc. Also, the uninformed do not understand that vocational evaluation aids successful job placement and acquisition of vocational goals, and past research is mixed, or often misunderstood, regarding how vocational evaluation benefits consumers and local economies. Vocational Evaluators know the expertise and skills required to provide vocational evaluation, such as assessing the whole person, individualizing assessment to clients’ specific needs and abilities, providing accommodations, researching needed resources, interpreting and synthesizing assessment data into reports to form realistic recommendations. However, we have not done an effective job of sharing this information along with efficacy evidence to others, particularly to policy makers. This panel of professional vocational evaluators will discuss issues and potential solutions to the big question: “What is the future of vocational evaluation?”
Panel Presenters: Lisa Blakeney, M.A. CVE, ICVE (United States)
Marg Smith, B.A. RRP, CVRP, CCVE, ICVE (Canada)
Jennifer Chladny, B.A., RRP, CVRP, CCVE, ICVE (Canada)
Sean FitzGerald, CLCP, CVRP, CCVE, ICVE
Living with Mental Illness - A Personal Journey
1:00 - 2:30 PM ET
Nikki has had mental illness all her life. She was ill through a time when mental illness was not understood, discussed or even acknowledged. She was diagnosed over 30 years ago in a time when the illness was severely stigmatized, so she did what she believed she had to do. Hide it. Feel shame. Feel Weak. Feel broken.
Through her work with people with disabilities she began to share her story and noticed that in her sharing, she connected her with her clients in a meaningful way. She realized that every time she told her story while sitting in her professional chair, appearing successful and ‘together’, with someone enduring the same war with their brain as she did everyday, she ripped a tiny hole in the stigma attached to mental illness.
COVID exacerbated Nikki’s symptoms to the point where all past interventions had stopped working for her. She was forced to really look into her illness, examine it, dissect it and fully address it on a deep level, as she simply wasn’t able to ‘just manage’ any longer.
Her deepening work in this area brought her to the place of sharing the story of her journey more widespread to tear at the stigma of mental illness in our society. As she worked through her illness, battling it every day, she began to write and in October of 2021 she published her book, Shades, Living with Mental Illness and now speaks publicly about her continual journey, Living with Mental Illness.
(For more information see nikkilangdon.com)
Nikki Langdon is a long standing VRA member, past president of the Saskatchewan chapter and a past national board member – and Nikki also has a diagnosed mental illness that she has lived with and battled for well over 50 years. She has worked with people with disabilities for over 23 years including many with her own diagnosis.
Nikki holds a Bachelor’s degree with great distinction in Adapted Physical Activity Studies (Kinesiology) and has been awarded the YWCA Woman of Distinction award in Leadership and Management. She holds the Registered Rehabilitation Professional Certification from the Vocational Rehabilitation Society of Canada and the Certified Vocational Professional and Return to Work Disability Manager designations from the College of Vocational Professionals.
Ethical and Insurance Risk Management Session for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals
Jody Hawley, Terena Delaney and Andrew Spencer
2:45 - 3:45 PM ET
This panel discussion session will provide an interactive forum to review ethics based case studies, address frequently asked questions, allow for member discussion and to education members on specific insurance add-ons that are available. This session will discuss the most pertinent sources of claims for VR professionals these days and risk management techniques members can employ to stay out of trouble or be well positioned to address if trouble finds them.
The Career Ability Placement Survey in Vocational Rehab (CAPS)
3:45 - 5:15 PM ET
The Career Ability Placement Survey (CAPS) is a comprehensive, multi-dimensional battery designed to measure vocationally relevant abilities. First published in 1976 and regularly updated since, the CAPS is an effective way to measure current levels of ability, and explore potential career and work pathways. This interactive presentation will cover the history and development of the CAPS assessment, the important validity and reliability data, and the best practices for using it with clients. Participants will also have the opportunity to try it out part of the assessment to see what it’s like from the client’s perspective, and score their own results. Plenty of time will be available for questions and discussion.
PCVRS- A Multidisciplinary approach to Vocational Rehabilitation Services for Canadian Veterans & their Families
Amber Lavigne, Mathieu Pinault and James Young
3:45 - 5:15 PM ET
Veterans Affairs Canada in collaboration with Partners in Canadian Veterans Rehabilitation Services (PCVRS) is launching a new and innovative vocational rehabilitation service delivery model for Canadian Veterans & their families. The program is built on best-in-class rehabilitation services, with the goal to enrich the health and well being of Canadian Veterans through comprehensive national rehabilitation care, providing access to quality services close to home. An interprofessional collaborative practice model has been demonstrated to provide the most optimal, participant-centered quality of care. Participant and organizational outcomes continue to be a focus of study; however, a large body of evidence supports this approach in effective rehabilitation. Through integrating vocational rehabilitative services with medical and psycho-social interventions, program participants will experience a holistic approach to support their efforts to increase employability and secure suitable employment after their military service. As labour force participation is recognized as an important dimension of a successful transition to life after military service, this will be a core objective of the PCVRS program. PCVRS is a partnership between WCG International Consultants and Lifemark Health Group, two leading edge organizations well known in the industry for their forward-thinking approach to rehabilitation, quality programming and positive outcomes. Join us as we present the overall framework of the program, which includes the delivery of medical, psycho-social, and vocational rehabilitation services to Veterans across the nation.
Keynote Speaker - Celebrate the Fight
9:00 - 10:30 AM ET
Life doesn’t always go as we plan and sometimes moments that are meant to give us pure joy will be stolen. However, we have the ability to connect and collect joy in every situation and celebrate.
Danielle is a dynamic motivational speaker. She shares her journey of struggles and pain and how she has overcome every obstacle to reach her goals and truly knows how to define and achieve success. Danielle will not only motivate and inspire you to be your best. She will give you the tools to discover how to connect before you collect.
Danielle wears many hats and is a powerhouse of success. Her proudest accomplishment is that she is a mother to three children and stepmother to two teenagers. Who encourage and teach her every day to be her best.
Danielle is a former Paralympic swimmer who represented Canada at two Paralympic Games, winning a total of three gold medals, two silvers and one bronze. She held a total of eight world records overall in her career. As a result, she knows what it takes to achieve goals. Her story is about succeeding against the odds. It’s about the challenges she has faced and the determination it took for her to persevere and succeed.
Danielle has received numerous awards to honour her significant contributions and achievements, including her commitment to the highest ideals and qualities of citizenship and humanitarian service. Danielle is a multi-dimensional powerhouse with numerous accolades in both her personal and professional lives. A world-record-holding swimmer, top organizational executive, and an inspiring community leader and advocate, she has been awarded the Order of Ontario (2001, the youngest person ever so honoured); the Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year (2000); the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award (2005); Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002); and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)
The Changing Nature of Return to Work - Panel Discussion
Tracey Kibble, Steve Ogden, Lisa Yassein and Addie Greco-Sanchez
2:45 - 4:15 PM EST
Over the last few years, the pandemic has changed the way we define and talk about return to work. Join our panel, led by VRA Canada President Tracey Kibble, for a discussion around the way we, as VR professionals, can guide clients as they face uncharted territory in the return to work post-pandemic and how the pandemic has affected and shaped the employment landscape.
Cultural Competence and Unconscious Bias
1:00 - 2:30 PM ET
Renee Daudlin-Iacobelli, M.Ed, CCRC, CCVE, ICVE, CVRP, RRP, RTWDM
Renee started her career in vocational rehabilitation over 30 years ago. She has worked in various aspects of the vocational rehabilitation and assessment field. Since 2011, Renee has owned and operated Insight Advantage Inc, a full-service employment, training, and vocational rehabilitation company.
Renee is skilled in Corporate Training and Adult Learning, Vocational and Employment Counselling, Employee Assistance Counselling, Transferable Skills Analysis, Vocational Rehabilitation, Job Placement, and Disability Management Consulting. She holds a Master of Education in Adult Education, Undergraduate Degree in Sociology and a Post Degree Diploma in Art Therapy.
Renee is a Certified Instructor for MHFA and both Cultural Competence and Unconscious Bias. As a previous Human Rights Coordinator for CUPE 1715, Renee gained front line experience and training within Human Rights, Workplace Harassment and Duty to Accommodate. Renee has designed and delivered sensitivity training to over 600 education administrators and has recently developed a Diversity and Equity training module for the Toronto Conservation Authority.
This session will be an interactive session designed to increase awareness of how bias within our daily lives and within our organizations presents and how one can learn to manage it. Participants will learn about individual biases and the systemic bias present in common organizational practices, process, and policies. Through effective and intentional actions, participants will learn to manage the application of bias in decision making and individual behaviour.
Everyone has unconscious bias. This is a natural fact of being human. This session will help participants improve self-awareness and cultural competency to reduce the likelihood of acting on bias.
- Recognize types of unconscious bias
- Identify bias in our organizations
- Learn how cultural competency can be used to mange unconscious bias
- Practice strategies to disrupt bias
New CEU and Member Portal Demonstration
CEU AdHoc Committee
2:30 - 3:45 PM ET
The CEU AdHoc Committee will be showcasing the new and improved CEU submission portal, launching in June 2022.
8:30 - 9:30 AM ET
Start your day with a guided meditation session to reflect on the last two days. Learn some tips and tricks to bring stillness to your day.
Developing Your Personal Brand
8:30 - 9:30 AM ET
An interactive and collaborative networking session where attendees will break off into smaller groups and complete exercises to improve their networking skills. This session will be run by VRA Board President Tracey Kibble.
Assessing Extra-Ordinary Care Needs in Children with Cerebral Palsy
Warren Comeau and Sean FitzGerald
10:15 - 11:45 AM ET
In addressing the methodology used in preparing life care plans, through case examples, the presenters will examine the following:
· what goods and services fall within the category of "extra-ordinary" in a life care plan
· what is typical care as this differs from extra-ordinary care, according to the tenets of life care planning
· when will extra-ordinary care typically end
· what is the impact of attending school on recommendations
· costing of recommendations
· ethical considerations and practices in life care planning
They’re Here! Vocational Rehabilitation and Generation Z
10:15 - 11:45 AM ET
A growing number of people born between 1997-2012 – known as Generation Z or “Gen Z” – have reached the age of 18 to 25, meaning that vocational rehabilitation professionals can expect to see more of these folks as they engage with the labour market. A multi-generational workforce means a mix of experiences, work values, attributes, preferences, and motivators, and knowing about some key generational differences will equip the VR practitioner to provide more informed, better tailored services. In this session, we’ll look at some unique considerations when working with Gen Z clients, along with some practical strategies to support their vocational rehabilitation.