CTRA BOD/STAFF 2023-2024

Tanea Goncalves Forward

Executive Director

Tanea Goncalves Forward is the Executive Director for the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association. Tanea completed her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Alberta. She was a Recreation Therapist with Alberta Health Services (Lakeland Regional Health Authority and East Central Health Region) for twelve years. In September 2006, Tanea decided to pursue her Master degree because she felt that research needed to be conducted to advance  the profession of Therapeutic Recreation in Canada. In August 2012, Tanea completed her Master Degree from Dalhousie University. Tanea has always been interested in the advancement of the TR profession and has served on various committees that have worked to achieve this goal. Tanea is very aware of the accomplishments of Therapeutic Recreation in Canada and hopes to assist in the future growth of the profession.

Glenn Skimming

Past President

Glenn Skimming works as a Recreation Therapist II in Edson and Hinton, and coordinates two Adult Day Programs. Glenn also supports clients living in a lodge setting in Edson by supporting them to connect with their community. Glenn is an active member of his provincial organization and considers his being a Recreation Therapist an honor and continues to encourage individuals to make informed leisure choices. Glenn was a Transit Operator for almost 24 years, and during this time went to the University of Alberta and Graduated with a BPE in 2001. Glenn has worked in Adult Day Support programs, worked in Supportive Living and Long Term Care, has worked and continues to work in the community building partnerships with community organizations and clients he supports. Glenn loves to cook for family and friends, enjoys camping, and spending time with family and friends. He and his wife have 3 Grandchildren they love to spoil, and have two cats and two dogs that keeps them very busy.

Heather Baker

President

Heather Baker is a Recreation Therapist at Capital District Health Authority in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She has worked in a variety of service delivery areas and is currently the Consult Recreation Therapist for the Therapeutic Assistant Service where her work is focused on managing responsive behaviors in an acute care setting. Heather graduated from Dalhousie University in 2005 with a BSc in Therapeutic Recreation. Prior to her introduction to  therapeutic recreation she was pursuing a career in the field of nursing. She is currently serving a term as the Vice President of the Therapeutic Recreation
Association of Atlantic Canada (TRAAC) and has previously held TRAAC board positions as a student director, treasurer, advocacy chair, and president. Heather is also the Chair of TRAAC’s Licensure Committee. She recently joined the CTRA Board of Directors, serving a term as the treasurer and is the Chair of CTRA’s Regulation Committee. Heather has presented provincially and nationally on a variety of topics including licensure, managing responsive behaviors and working with individuals with cognitive impairments. For those who don’t know her, Heather thoroughly  enjoys her work and although it appears that she has little time to engage in leisure she manages to enjoy a variety of leisure activities between her work life and volunteer commitments. She thoroughly enjoys reading, spending time in the kitchen, playing the piano, enjoying nature, spending time with family and friends, scrapbooking and travel to name just a few.

Lauren Cripps

President Elect

Lauren Cripps is a recent graduate of Brock University’s PhD Program, where she has been teaching Therapeutic Recreation for the past 8 years. Lauren has a B.RLS in Therapeutic Recreation, a Master’s in Leisure Studies and a PhD in Social and Cultural Health Studies from Brock University. Lauren is a community engaged scholar who focuses on creating effective and meaningful interventions using a collaborative approach to program design, implantation and evaluation. Lauren has completed several major projects in partnership with Canadian Mental Health Association, Pathstone Mental Health, Niagara Health and the Niagara Catholic District School Board.

Lauren’s areas of interest include strengths-based practice in mental health initiatives; the integration of an evidence-informed process in mental health programming; recovery-oriented practice; animal-assisted interventions and innovative mental health program design. She travels throughout North America speaking about the value of evidence-informed practice in Therapeutic Recreation.

Outside of her professional pursuits, Lauren is a proud mother to Nyla, Emma, Willa and Luca and spends her free time championing (taxiing) their many pursuits. She is also well known for her love of animals and spent the first decade of her ‘adult’ life as a registered veterinary technician. Lauren’s passion for animals continues to help her blur the lines between work and play with the Cripps household population nearly tripled by the dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits that also share their home.

Lauren is a long-time member of the NCTRC and a recent applicant to the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.

 

Heather Baker

Treasurer

Heather Baker is a Recreation Therapist at Capital District Health Authority in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She has worked in a variety of service delivery areas and is currently the Consult Recreation Therapist for the Therapeutic Assistant Service where her work is focused on managing responsive behaviors in an acute care setting. Heather graduated from Dalhousie University in 2005 with a BSc in Therapeutic Recreation. Prior to her introduction to  therapeutic recreation she was pursuing a career in the field of nursing. She is currently serving a term as the Vice President of the Therapeutic Recreation
Association of Atlantic Canada (TRAAC) and has previously held TRAAC board positions as a student director, treasurer, advocacy chair, and president. Heather is also the Chair of TRAAC’s Licensure Committee. She recently joined the CTRA Board of Directors, serving a term as the treasurer and is the Chair of CTRA’s Regulation Committee. Heather has presented provincially and nationally on a variety of topics including licensure, managing responsive behaviors and working with individuals with cognitive impairments. For those who don’t know her, Heather thoroughly  enjoys her work and although it appears that she has little time to engage in leisure she manages to enjoy a variety of leisure activities between her work life and volunteer commitments. She thoroughly enjoys reading, spending time in the kitchen, playing the piano, enjoying nature, spending time with family and friends, scrapbooking and travel to name just a few.

Vallyn Sielski

Secretary

Vallyn Sielski is a Recreation Therapist with the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Vallyn completed a B.Sc. in Sport and Exercise Studies at the University of Saskatchewan in 2011 and went on to complete a Bachelor’s in Therapeutic Recreation at Douglas College in 2014. Vallyn received her CTRS certification in 2014 and is currently working at Parkridge Centre with residents needing long term and complex care. Vallyn is a mom to one human and one pup, avid gardener and outdoor enthusiast, spending most of her leisure time with family and at the lake.

Lauren Cripps

Education Director

Lauren Cripps is a recent graduate of Brock University’s PhD Program, where she has been teaching Therapeutic Recreation for the past 8 years. Lauren has a B.RLS in Therapeutic Recreation, a Master’s in Leisure Studies and a PhD in Social and Cultural Health Studies from Brock University. Lauren is a community engaged scholar who focuses on creating effective and meaningful interventions using a collaborative approach to program design, implantation and evaluation. Lauren has completed several major projects in partnership with Canadian Mental Health Association, Pathstone Mental Health, Niagara Health and the Niagara Catholic District School Board.

Lauren’s areas of interest include strengths-based practice in mental health initiatives; the integration of an evidence-informed process in mental health programming; recovery-oriented practice; animal-assisted interventions and innovative mental health program design. She travels throughout North America speaking about the value of evidence-informed practice in Therapeutic Recreation.

Outside of her professional pursuits, Lauren is a proud mother to Nyla, Emma, Willa and Luca and spends her free time championing (taxiing) their many pursuits. She is also well known for her love of animals and spent the first decade of her ‘adult’ life as a registered veterinary technician. Lauren’s passion for animals continues to help her blur the lines between work and play with the Cripps household population nearly tripled by the dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits that also share their home.

Lauren is a long-time member of the NCTRC and a recent applicant to the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.

Crystal Toth

Marketing Director

Crystal Toth is a Recreation Therapist with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, as well as Recreation Therapist and owner of Flourish YXE – Recreation Therapy Services. She graduated from the University of Regina with a Bachelors of Sport and Recreation Studies in 2019, and obtained her CTRS certification in 2021. Crystal holds multiple certifications in the fitness and yoga industries, with a focus on inclusivity and trauma-informed fitness leadership. Previous to completing her degree, Crystal worked with the YMCA of Regina where she developed community relationships with ABI groups, and advocated for inclusive physical programming.

Crystal is an advocate for mental health services, with a focus on disordered eating and maternal mental health, and the link that recreation and leisure has to our mental wellbeing. She continues to build relationships in the Saskatoon community to create advocacy for the recreation therapy field.

Crystal’s leisure time is spent with her spouse and daughter, going for walks by the river, taking in various cultural events around the city, and coffee.

 

Melissa D'Souza

Western Director

I was born in Mumbai, India, and moved to Halifax when I was 10 years old.  I grew up in Halifax City (HRM) and graduated from Dalhousie University in therapeutic recreation in 2013.  I obtained my CTRS in 2013 in Halifax, NS.  After graduation, I moved to Alberta with an employment opportunity as the lead recreation therapist/manager at a long-term care home.  With this opportunity I was able to network in the community with the PCN (Primary Care Network) and present in Newfoundland at the CTRA conference with the Happiness Basics Workshop program in mental health and addictions in 2015.  Researching programs that are inclusive of an individual’s participation has always been a keen interest and I currently work with my team to develop new programs on site. I also teach at Bow Valley College in Calgary, Alberta, as a clinical instructor for two courses that include recreation program and design and practicum placements.  My current role includes supervising 10 recreation assistants, and 1 volunteer coordinator, 1 pastoral coordinator and overseeing 70 volunteers in the community.  Every year I supervise student placements in recreation therapy from either Dalhousie University or the University of Lethbridge.  In my leisure time, I keep busy with running, catching up with friends all over the world and in the Maritimes, I love animals and have a 2 year old labradoodle dog that just loves to go outside even in -30 weather.  My biggest passion is travelling, and I have been to over 10 countries and hope to see more to share stories and learn from many cultures. 

Faith Jasper

Prairie Director

Faith Jasper is a Recreation Therapist at Misericordia Health Centre (Misericordia Place and PRIME Day Hospital) working with responsive behaviours related to dementia as well as quality of life initiatives. Faith completed her Bachelors of Sport and Recreation Studies through the University of Regina, majoring in Therapeutic Recreation and minoring in Psychology. Graduating in 2022, Faith then passed her certification exam to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist in July 2022.

Faith is passionate about advocating for the influence of recreation therapy on all aspects of people with varying abilities and diagnosis. As well as encouraging for therapeutic recreation to become more recognized among the interdisciplinary teams. She is looking forward to advocating for this through her role as Prairie director, as well as the community of practice lead.

Outside of professional areas, Faith also coaches competitive and developmental soccer through Bonivital SC in Winnipeg. She is currently completing her Canada Soccer National B-diploma, which is a 2 year program. She enjoys playing recreation sports with her friends, hanging out with her pup and going for walks to explore.

Megan Buckland

Central Director

Megan is a Recreation Therapist who resides in Ontario. Megan started her Therapeutic Recreation journey completing a diploma in Recreation Therapy from Canadore College. While working as a recreation aide in Long Term Care, she continued her education by completing a Bachelor’s of Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Lethbridge. Megan became a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist in 2021. She currently works in the field of pediatrics. Megan is passionate about advocating for the power of Therapeutic Recreation interventions to help people of all abilities achieve their goals and live a better quality of life. She is looking forward to working with the CTRA team to help bring a more standardized understanding of Therapeutic Recreation across Canada. Megan enjoys spending her leisure time with family, outdoors, walking and reading a good book.

Anne Mack

Atlantic Director

Anne is presently working part-time as a Recreation Specialist with the Centre for Pain and Disability Management at the Miller Centre, St. John’s, NL. Participants in the program attend a 5 week intensive self-management program for people with chronic pain. Anne also has extensive experience working in Mental Health.  She attended Memorial University and earned a M.P.E. from this University in 1992. She also attended Concordia University and received a Graduate Diploma in Sports Administration. In 2011 Anne was certified as a CTRS with NCTRC. Anne enjoys running, biking, skiing and spending time outside with her family and friends. She lived in Nepal with her husband and four children on two separate occasions (2012-13 and 2017-18) and had the opportunity to volunteer and see the value of Therapeutic Recreation in a developing country.

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