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Rene Boucher is an Indigenous man Living with HIV/AIDS (IPHA) for over 28 years and has been a strong advocate for other IPHAs just as long. He believes that in order to see change happen in the disproportionately high rates among Indigenous peoples, we need to address the HIV stigma that continues to create barriers to treatment, testing, as well as misinformation about HIV. He looks forward to continuing to create solutions from a GIPA (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS) perspective and support our Indigenous communities with more awareness from an Indigenous perspective.
Chris Leonard brings experience from her work in the HIV sector that started at Black CAP 30 years ago and also from her work supporting communities impacted by grief and trauma related community violence, the overdose crisis, sexual violence, and other traumatic losses. Her process facilitation and trainings are grounded in wholistic, anti-oppressive, transformative resistance, and restorative approaches that aims to build capacity and strengthen individual and collective well-being. Chris brings mindful awareness from her training as a Zen Shiatsu therapist into her work of holding space for workers impacted the weight of these extraordinary times.
Sheila Berry has been a therapist and bereavement counsellor since 1990. She completed a BHA in Psychology at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay after which she worked as a Support Coordinator at the AIDS Committee of Thunder Bay for 12 years. In 1994, she was introduced to the AIDS Bereavement and Resiliency Program of Ontario, and trained as a regional consultant. In 2002 she moved to Toronto and completed Expressive Arts Therapy. While living in Toronto, she provided home hospice support to families in North York and facilitated grief support groups introducing expressive arts. Currently Sheila resides in Thunder Bay and continues to serve as a member of the ABRPO consultant team. Her connection to nature is well reflected in her artwork, song writing, and poetry. Her philosophy stems from the belief that nurturing the strengths in people leads to self-growth and increased self-empowerment.
Eno has worked with community for the last 2 decades. Through her work, she connects with Peers and Workers seeking to heal together in acknowledging our shared losses, unprocessed grief by using tools expressly developed for this purpose. Her practice is centred on African ways of knowing and inclusive of other authentic ways developed by different cultures. The ultimate goal in her mind is community healing and wellness.
To help her process and ensure continuity, she lifts very heavy things and sets them down as a powerlifter!
While Martin grew up and completed his education at Western University in London Ontario, he spent much of his adult life living and working abroad in England and in Toronto in the fast paced world of advertising. Since his return to London in 2012, he has devoted a huge share of his time and passion to the HIV/AIDS sector. He currently holds a role as a member of the leadership team of London's Regional HIV/AIDS Connection, where he has worked for over a decade. He also has over eight years combined experience working as a facilitator within community for both the Ontario AIDS Networks ( since 2014) and his role here at ABRPO (since 2019 ). Additionally, served as OCS Governance Committee Co-chair (2020-2022). When it comes to balancing things out, hot yoga and local theatre are two of his top 'go to' wellness activities – loving all the twists that both bring! However, his number passion remains showing up for, and also allowing himself to be held by, the various communities of people with whom he shares vital and powerful lived experience.
Aara is a dedicated and passionate Harm Reduction professional and a Social Justice Warrior. Aara has worked in the Social Services Sector for the last 33 years. Aara was the Co-Chair of the Harm Reduction Coalition of York Region and a member of the Opioid Response Education and Anti-Stigma Groups of Public Health York Region, providing leadership and training in comprehensive Harm Reduction strategies. Aara is the Co-Founder of the People Who Use Drugs Alliance of York Region. Aara has spoken at The National (US) Harm Reduction Conference and has developed many workplace policies supporting this model. Aara is a vocal advocate for people who use drug and health promotion services. Aara has provided services such as HR training, design, packing and distribution of HR Safer Drug Using Kits, Naloxone distribution, Client support in Safer Consumption Rooms, support to people with Safer Opioid Drug Supply and the advocacy of dignified services for People Who Use Drugs. Additionally, Aara has worked extensively with people in conflict with the law. Aara founded the first Youth Mental Health Court in York Region. Aara also provided harm reduction counselling to people imprisoned in jails and prisons. Aara co-founded an Imprisoned Women’s Provincial Advocacy Group. Aara is a Queer parent of five children and lives in Kensington Market with her wife. Aara also identifies as an active drug user and a person living with a mental illness.