This event took place on February 7th 2015 at Lakeside Hope House in Guelph. 

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To view the photos from this event, click here! 

Building Bridges (2015) Speakers 

Dr. Barbara LeBlanc

Dr. Barbara LeBlanc (MD, FRCS(C)) is a General Surgeon based in Guelph, Ontario.  She completed her medical and surgical training in London Ontario, followed by a Hand Surgery Fellowship in Louisville Kentucky.  She practiced for 19 years as a General Surgeon in Guelph, and closed her practice in late 2004 to work on short term missions in Africa.  She has completed 18 missions with MSF, and has worked in Northern Uganda in a clinical and teaching capacity.  Most recently she worked with the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) in South Sudan as part of a mobile surgical team.

Owen Bjorgan

If there was anything that could slither, crawl, leap, swim, fly, or dig, Owen was right there with it since day one. Growing up along the Niagara Escarpment, a World Biosphere Reserve that runs through Niagara On The Lake, ON, Owen was surrounded by nature at a young age. Not only was he surrounded, but he felt a part of it. Owen now in his third year of study fell easily into the University of Guelph's biodiversity program. After experiencing many of the world's natural wonders Owen decided to create a non-profit called The Biophilic World in order to help find the missing link between modern society and the natural world.

Dr. Stephen Lewis

Dr. Lewis' research examines non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and related mental health difficulties among youth and emerging adults. Central to his research approach is the use of the Internet as a research platform and tool. In this regard, his research investigates: a) online NSSI communication, b) ways to increase youth’s access to online NSSI resources, c) youth mental health literacy, and d) NSSI recovery experiences. His research has been featured in national and international media outlets, including The New York Times, Time, USA Today, ABC, CBS, The Globe and Mail, and the BBC and has resulted in policy changes on YouTube in an effort to promote online safety for adolescents. Dr. Lewis is co-author of the book Non-Suicidal Self-injury, which is part of the Advances in Psychotherapy series by the Society of Clinical Psychology (APA Division 12). He is an invited member of the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury (ISSS), where he currently sits on the Executive Board. He is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Self-injury Outreach and Support (SiOS), an international outreach organization providing current information and helpful resources about self-injury to individuals who self-injure, those who have recovered, as well as their caregivers and families, friends, teachers and the health professionals who work with the.

Emily Bremner

Innately curious and undoubtedly contemplative, Emily has always known herself to be an introspective thinker. She seeks inspiration with the hope of provoking thought and conversation. In recent years she has come to know the intimacies and intricacies of her own human experience. Since graduating with a B.Comm from the University of Guelph in 2010, her intense desire to understand the world and her place in it has taken her from the far off cityscapes of Nepal, where she worked with street children, to the B.C. coast, where she studied the practice of yoga. Finding herself back in Guelph, Emily took on a role working with university youth in the fields of entrepreneurship and community engagement through the Centre for Business and Social Entrepreneurship (CBaSE). Building strong and resilient communities continues to drive Emily as she embarks on a new chapter in Toronto, where she hopes to synthesize her experiences and intrigues into meaningful work. More than anything, Emily is in search of the fabled state of a balanced being and is moving through the world at a contemplative pace.

Jay Reid

Jay is the founder of The Making-Box and a Regional Director with the Canadian Improv Games (CIG), a nationally recognized non-profit that gives high school students a platform to explore theatrical improvisation in a fun and supportive environment. Jay has had the absolute pleasure of teaching and studying improv across Canada, as a National Trainer for the CIG and through The Making-Box’s Improv For Business program (a program he designed to help organizations apply improv skills in the workplace to foster productive collaboration and forward-thinking leadership). While getting a degree in Marketing and Biotechnology from the University of Guelph, Jay worked at an insurance agency, toured Canada in a rock band, opened a comedy theatre and ate a few meals. Jay once did stand-up comedy for the mayor of Guelph and twice wondered if she liked it

Dr. Kenneth Dorter

Dr. Kenneth Dorter received his BA from Queens College of the City University of New York, and his MA (on Descartes) and PhD (on Plato) from Pennsylvania State University. Since 1966, he has been a member of the Philosophy Department at the University of Guelph, where he has taught courses primarily in the history of philosophy, both western and eastern, as well as courses on ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of art, and philosophy of music (in the Music Department). He has published about 55 articles and chapters on these subjects, and three books on Plato. In the Summer of 2014 he completed a book on East-West comparative philosophy.


Dr. Vern Osborne

Dr. Vern Osborne (MSc, PhD, University of Guelph) was born and raised on a Holstein- Master Breeder dairy farm near Rockwood, Ontario. He joined the faculty of Ridgetown College in 1986 as a Senior Lecturer/Dairy Researcher and later served as a College Professor in the Animal Science department. In January 1990 he was seconded from Ridgetown to Semex Canada, where as Marketing Director for computer systems, he developed the current genetic mating program. In January 2002, he joined the Animal and Poultry Science department at Guelph as a Professor in ruminant nutrition. His research has concentrated on nutritional management strategies that enhance early heifer growth, and the delivery of extra nutrients using drinking water, and water and feed combinations during times of physiological needs of the dairy cow and horse. Dr. Osborne is internationally known for his expertise in water nutrition of dairy animals and has been an invited speaker in many countries. He is also an internationally recognized designer of dairy facilities. Dr. Osborne is currently the Science and Design Lead for the Mission 2050 project, a conceptual framework plan that would replace Guelph’s/OMAFRA’s dairy, swine and poultry research facilities. Dr. Osborne has taught in the diploma and degree programs at Ridgetown and Guelph for 25 years. He was recently awarded the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Teaching Award of Merit. He currently lives on a 300 acre farm with his wife and three children and cash crops with his father.