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Programming 2021

Meet the Speakers

Sandra Yuen MacKay is a visual artist and author of My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness, Chop Shtick, and From New York to Vancouver: Stories on the Fly. She was diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia at age fifteen. She earned a Fine Arts Diploma from Langara College and a Bachelor of Arts in art history from the University of British Columbia. She received the Courage to Come Back award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. She’s worked in acrylic painting for over two decades. Creativity is her salvation. Her florals are large and beautiful with colour. Her cityscapes are about anonymity, the disappearing city, and document local Vancouver architecture. For more info, visit

Marn Norwich has been facilitating writing workshops since 1994. She’s taught in schools, prisons, treatment centres and through Continuing Studies at Langara College and Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She worked as a writer, editor and consultant for 25 years. As a journalist, she’s written for publications including the Globe and Mail, CBC and Georgia Straight. Marn is the author of an award-winning poetry collection, Wildflowers at my doorstep (Karma press). She also works as an intuitive energy-work therapist. Marn runs Women’s Writing as Healing workshops and coaches writers through her business, Vancouver Women’s Writing Courses. Join the Vancouver Writing Courses Meetup to keep informed about Free Intros and other writing events. Or contact her to be on her newsletter list:

Toronto Arts Council Community Arts Program Manager Kevin Reigh has 15+ years of experience in the arts/not for profit sector having previously worked at dance Immersion, the Canadian Music Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) and Unity Charity. 

Kevin also founded Mosiah Grant Writing + Creative Communications to help independent artists and smaller not-for-profit organizations navigate the world of grant writing and proposal development. 

As a writer and spoken-word artist, Kevin has released one album (Ground Provisions) and two volumes of poetry (Love Universes All Things and Bedroom Bully) and has collaborated with numerous musicians and dancers throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Kevin’s work was included in T-Dot Griots: An Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers and he also contributed spoken-word to Paranoid Jack’s The Last of the Funky Cyborgs.

Kelly Straughan is currently the Executive Artistic Director of Workman Arts, which is a multidisciplinary arts organization that promotes a greater understanding of mental health and addiction issues through creation and presentation. She is also the Vice President of the board for the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA). Kelly is the former Executive Director of the Toronto Fringe Festival and President of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals. She previously held the position of Associate Artistic Director at Nightwood Theatre and was the Assistant Artistic Director at Tarragon Theatre for three seasons. She holds a Masters in Theatre Directing from the University of British Columbia.

Lacey Hill is Oneida of Six Nations, Wolf Clan. She is a singer/songwriter and inspirational speaker. Lacey went solo launching her debut album titled 528, independently, in 2013, which put her in the music scene and opened up the stage to perform her original songs. 2017 Her sophomore album 528 Volume II M has taken Lacey across Canada and on to international stages. 2018-19 Lacey traveled to New Zealand, Australia and UK, stage managing and providing original compositions for Tara Beagans’ theatre production DeerWoman. 2020 Lacey released and premiered “The Shiner” as a single for APTN’s Amplify series.

Moyra Bell, often called “Joyra” by her high school students and friends- radiates fun and joy everywhere she goes. Her mission is to inspire deeper connection to self, others, and the natural world through meditation, movement, and nature-based activities. Joyra is a positive Psychology Practitioner, yoga instructor, and mindfulness facilitator. She works with High School students, one-on-one sessions with adults, and with all ages in various studios on Vancouver Island.

You can find out more about her and her work on her website (coming Spring 2021) at

IG: joyra360

Stephen Legari is Program Officer for Art Therapy at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This comprehensive museum-based mental health program includes art therapy groups in partnership with community and clinical stakeholders, a master’s level training program, a community art studio, and research collaborations with several universities and clinical centres.

Jessica Houghton is a Registered Psychotherapist, Dance Movement Psychotherapist, Educator, and Dance Artist, currently working in private practice in Toronto where she offers individual and group therapy, as well as educational and personal development workshops. She completed her MA in Dance Movement Psychotherapy in the UK, where she researched the benefits of DMT for survivors of sexual trauma, and worked in adult and childhood mental health in hospital, community, and school settings. Jessica’s passion is to create supportive spaces where clients can access their embodied intuition and explore the richness of their internal world through creative movement. She is a firm believer in the transformative power of dance and movement, and is committed to supporting the development of DMT as a profession in Canada.

Gloria C. Swain is a multidisciplinary artist, activist, and Black mental health advocate working out of Toronto. She works within the mediums of installation, painting, performance, and photography to challenge systemic oppression against Black women and trans people. Her work examines ongoing colonial violence and Black mental health and centers her experiences as an older Black feminist artist navigating through youth-oriented art spaces.She holds a certificate in Community Arts Practice and a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from York University. Her work has shown in Toronto, Manitoba, and Montreal. Her writings on disability arts activism have been published in Cultivate Feminism and the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies.

Chris Enns is a financial planner and opera singer. He has spent the last 10 years as a performing artist and learned the hard way that ignoring money doesn’t really work. He is the founder of Rags to Reasonable – an advice only financial planning & money coaching firm that specializes in working with creatives and people with other non-traditional financial situations.

Combining expertise in neuroplasticity with 25+ years of musical training and performance experience, Dr. Jackie Obermeyer has developed a unique strategy for optimizing energetic health and wellbeing. Using specific frequencies and combinations of sounds, she works with individuals to disrupt limiting subconscious programming and implement new neuro-architecture to support the growth and evolution of their consciousness. Jackie believes that we all have the capacity to thrive in this world, and that all it takes is finding the right frequencies to support the life experience we want to have.

Georgia Fullerton is a practising visual artist, an Expressive Arts Therapist, arts-educator and public speaker. Earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts at York University, she is the former Vice-President of the Ontario Expressive Arts Therapy Association, and sits on the Program Advisory Committee for the School of Media Art and Design at Durham College’s Oshawa campus. She is also a board member of the largest contemporary art museum in Durham Region, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery. Engaging all sides of her creative prowess, Georgia deepens her understanding and practise of the arts in the mental health sector as a counsellor and expressive arts therapist for The Insight Clinic in Whitby, Ontario and strives to engage all people in the acceptance of art making as a core life skill. Contact:

Elizabeth Hurly has worked in the investment industry all her working career. She started in the bond cage…three floors underground and managed to work her way up to daylight! She has been a portfolio manager with a major pension fund and while there, Liz worked first on the fixed income desk and then was part of a three-person team that managed the equity portfolio. Liz was also a pro trader for a major bank. That is a job akin to going to the casino everyday- and after three years figured out, she was a much better portfolio manager than day trader.  With the knowledge and experience Liz accumulated in her 20 years of institutional investing, she felt individual investors were not being truly served and in 2009 became an investment advisor.

Today, Liz leads Hurly Wealth Advisory at Raymond James. Hurly Wealth Advisory of Raymond James Ltd., offers a boutique style service for select clients in Canada and the U.S., with a focus on cross border and responsible investment management. In her spare time Liz likes to cycle, go to the cottage, and hang out with Max, the wonder dog.

Special Performance by Beatrice Deer

Beatrice Deer, Canadian Aboriginal Music Award-Winning and Canadian Folk Music Award Winning singer-songwriter, is from Nunavik. Half Inuit and half Mohawk, Deer left her small  village of Quaqtaq, QC. in 2007. She has five albums to her credit. This is a body of work in  which she uniquely blends Traditional Inuit Throat Singing and Contemporary Indie Rock. “My  All to You”, her fifth album, marks a milestone in the history of ‘Inuindi’ music (a genre  pioneered by Deer), as for the first time, she composed all of the original music and lyrics. The  themes covered encompass classic Inuit folk tales and legends, and also deal with personal  growth as an important tool in the search for understanding and the search for meaning. She has  won over audiences around the world and her songs are particularly loved in the Canadian  Arctic, where audiences sing her songs during the many concerts she performs there. She sings  in three languages: Inuktitut, English and French. As a role model for her community and a  healthy lifestyle activist, Deer is often invited to speak. Her main message is that each of us must  take control of our own life. “No one else can do it for us. It is impossible to change what has  happened. You can only adopt new ways of dealing with the past.”

Air Inuit’s 40th Anniversary Gala – August 29, 2018
Photos by
Watch the music video for Beatrice Deer’s “My All To You”

Day 1 Schedule

Wednesday March 3, 2021

*All programming is in Eastern Standard Time (EST)

10:00 AM– Registration

Personalized sign in, Icebreakers, Poll

10:30 AM – Welcome

Welcome and Introductions, Land Acknowledgement, by Arts Ahead Co-Chairs Ciragh Lyons and Raeburn Ferguson

10:45 AM – Break/Vibrational Moment

With Moyra Bell, Positive Psychology Practitioner

10:55 AM – Panel: The Balancing Act


  • Kelly Straughan, Workman Arts
  • Stephen Legari, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
  • Josh Vettivelu, Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des Artistes Canadiens (CARFAC)
  • Kevin Reigh, Toronto Arts Council

Moderated by Patty Jarvis

11:45 AM – Break/Vibrational Moment

With Moyra Bell, Positive Psychology Practitioner

12:00 PM – Workshop: Financials for Creatives

Participants choose to join one of the following speakers in this workshop:

  1. Chris Enns, Rags to Reasonable
  2. Elizabeth Hurly, Raymond James

1:00 PM – Lunch Break /Optional Networking

Informal and optional network opportunity

1:30 PM – Break/Vibrational Moment

With Moyra Bell, Positive Psychology Practitioner

1:45 PM – Writing Workshop: Creative Togetherness

Facilitated by Marn Norwich, Vancouver Women’s Writing Courses

Using writing as a tool for healing, the workshop will begin with a meditation and then offer writing prompts to the group. The attendees can choose to share their writings.

2 :45 PM – Closing Remarks

By Arts Ahead Co-Chairs

Day 2 Schedule

Thursday March 4, 2021

*All programming is in Eastern Standard Time (EST)

4:00 PM– Registration

Personalized sign in, icebreakers

4:30 PM – Welcome (Back)

Welcome and Introductions, Land Acknowledgement, from Arts Ahead Co-Chairs Ciragh Lyons and Raeburn Ferguson

4:45 PM – Panel Talk: Wellness, Identity & Culture

  • Sandra Yuen MacKay, Author and Visual Artist
  • Gloria Swain, Multidisciplinary Artist, Activist, & Black Mental Health Advocate
  • Lacey Hill, Professional Musician

Moderated by Patty Jarvis

5:30 PM – Break/Vibrational Moment

With Moyra Bell, Positive Psychology Practitioner

5:45 PM – Workshop: Art Therapy

Participants choose to join one of the following speakers in this workshop:

  • Dance Therapy Jess Houghton, Registered Psychotherapist, Dance Movement Psychotherapist, Educator
  • Sound Therapy Dr. Jackie Obermeyer, Tuned Sound Therapy
  • Visual Art Expression Georgia Fullerton

6:45PM – Dinner Break/ Vibrational Moment

7:15 PM– Musical Performance

Beatrice Deer Band pre-recorded performance

7:30PM – Social Hour/Networking

Led by Arts Ahead Co-Chairs

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