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Friday, October 4, 2019

Holistic Healing Conference:
Theories, Practices and Social Change


Registration is Closed

Sponsored by:
Department of Applied Psychology & Human Development, OISE

OISE, University of Toronto
Ground Floor, Library
252 Bloor St. West, Toronto

(at St. George subway station, Bedford Rd. exit)
Green P Parking available underground, access from Prince Arthur Ave.

Conference Program (pdf)

Holistic healing is transforming human services in Canada. Many of these dynamic practices are ancient or based on traditional healing practices, while others are new. Research has shown that the majority of the population use natural health care supplements, alternative medicine and/or cultural healing practices. Mindfulness and yoga are increasingly used in health and mental health services. Traditional healing practices from the Global South are increasingly being utilized by immigrants and refugees in Canada. At the same time Indigenous peoples throughout Turtle Island (North America) are reclaiming their holistic practices as part of decolonization. These approaches promote inclusion and connection, rather than separation and isolation. The movement towards a holistic healing approach is gaining ground. In a world that is divisive, oppressive, and dehumanizing, holistic practices and ideas bring ways of healing our own lives, working for social change, and promoting equality, human rights, decolonization, peace, and sustainability.

This conference is based upon a new book entitled, Holistic Healing: Theories, Practices and Social Change in which over 30 diverse contributors described individual, family, community, national, and global holistic healing. The book links together a wide range of progressive theories, research and practices to create an alternative paradigm of healing and social change. The conference will include a wide diversity of speakers who will discuss and demonstrate a range of holistic practices. This thought provoking and experiential event will include a discussion of how holistic healing approaches can be used in human services for individual and community change. We will also discuss ways of changing post-secondary education to be more inclusive of these theories and practices. The conference is an opportunity to meet and network with faculty, students, practitioners, researchers, community people and/or many others who have an interest in holistic healing theories and practices.

Friday, 4th October 2019.  OISE Library, Ground Floor

8:30-9:00                    Arrival (meet and greet)

9:00-9:30                    Welcome and Recognitions

Peter Dunn                   Recognition of the Indigenous Lands and the National Day of Action for
                                   Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman, Girls and Two-Spirit People

Earl Woodruff                Welcome by Chair, APHD, OISE, University of Toronto

Indigenous Singers        Indigenous Welcome Song

Morning Moderator        Roy Moodley


9:30-10:15              Presentation  

A Growing Transformative Field: W/holistic Healing Theories, Practices and Social Action

Peter Dunn

A revolution is taking place in the field of holistic healing. The range of available holistic healing practices, practitioners, and theoretical perspectives has grown dramatically in recent years. Many of these practices are ancient or based on tra­ditional healing, while others are new. This presentation will provide an overview of holistic healing, its strengths and challenges based upon a new book entitled Holistic Healing: Theories, Practices and Social Change. This book draws together the voices of over 30 diverse contributors and offers different holistic ways of viewing issues and alternative solutions to our problems in a world in crisis. A new model is proposed linking together different approaches to individual, community, national and global healing. In a world that is divisive, oppressive, and dehumanizing, holistic practices and ideas emphasize interdependence, social justice, and awareness of our environment. These approaches promote inclusion and connection, rather than separation and isolation. They bring ways of healing our own lives, working for social change, and promoting equality, human rights, decolonization, peace, and sustainability.

10:15–11:00            Panel Presentation  

Indigenous/Anishinaabek Wholistic Healing and Change

Kathy Absolon, Jo- Anne Absolon & Lana Brasher

On this panel Kathy, Jo-Anne and Lana will share their experiences of what constitutes wholistic healing practices from their Indigenous lens.  Through their sharing they will bring their unique contexts of practice and offer examples and stories.  Their own personal journeys of healing deepen the context and well of knowledge about wholistic healing practices in relation to self and others.

11:00-11:15            Break

11:15-12:00            Panel Presentation  

Integrating Global South Holistic Healing Practices into Mental Health Care: A Toronto Case Study 

Roy Moodley, Ted Lo & Martha O’Campo

This presentation panel will discuss the integration of Global South Holistic Healing Practices into Mental Health care. Unlike Western psychologies of healing, Global South Traditional Healing Practices are holistic and anti-Cartesian. Practices such as the use of the Indigenous medicine wheel and sweat lodge; African Animism; Caribbean Voodoo and Orisha; South American Santeria; Asian and Eastern cultural practices of Ayurveda, Yogic meditation, Qigong, Tai Chi, Acupuncture, Morita and many others have been used by minoritized, marginalized and racialized communities in Toronto. These communities have been accessing these cultural practices to alleviate certain types of psychological distress which they deem to be outside the healing framework of conventional Western mental health care; they do this by visiting cultural and traditional healers in their locality. This presentation will discuss some of these healing processes and share some of the current research findings in this area of service provision in the GTA.

12:00-1:00              Lunch Break and Networking (A chance to meet other people interested in this field and ask about their interests)

1:00-2:30                Parallel Workshops

Holistic Practices, Issues, Applications and Social Change

(Please kindly select one of these workshops.  Each workshop will have two speakers)

Workshop 1:          OISE Library. Moderator:  Deone Curling

Indigenous Wholistic Well-Being and Healing (1:00-1:45)

Banakonda Kennedy-Kish Bell

This workshop explores Indigenous perspectives wholistic healing and wellness practice and processes promote and facilitate personal, family, and commu­nity wellness. Indigenous perspectives are introspective, inward, subjective, and relational in the seeking to live with and be in harmony and balance; engaging the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical as a way of coming to see, to relate, to know and activate that relationality in the living of life. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (1:45-2:30)

Enwei Li

One of the key principles in Traditional Chinese Medicine is that prevention is the best cure. This is the primary goal for all TCM practitioners. Different TCM modalities have been used in order to stimulate the natural healing abilities within ourselves, to heal our bodies as whole and also to reconnect our bodies with nature. In our workshop, we will explore Traditional Chinese Medicine, different modalities and how we can use it for disease prevention. 

Workshop 2:          Room 5-230, 5th Floor. Moderator: David Smith

Naturopathy, Homeopathy, and Natural Medicine (1:00-1:45)

Iva Lloyd

The strengths of the naturopathic approach to healthcare include the treatment of the whole person, supporting the natural healing ability of the body and the emphasis on finding the root cause(s) of symptoms and conditions.  This workshop will walk participants through the naturopathic approach to determining the cause(s) of diseases and will explore the difference between making conscious versus healthy decisions with respect to healthcare.

Ecopsychology: Theory, Practice and Reciprocity in Healing (1:45-2:30)

Michelle Brans

This experiential workshop will explore the healing relationship between human beings and the natural world. The field of the study of Ecopsychology will be introduced, with a special focus on its applications and innovative interventions.  Current promising and evidence-based practices are explored and brought to life through vivid case stories. 


Workshop 3:          Room 5-240, 5th Floor. Moderator:  Shivon Raghunandan

Contemplative Practices: Applications of Different Forms of Meditation/Yoga/Tai Chi/Dance and Social Change (1:00-1:45)

Timothy Gordon

As part of my workshop I will describe the context of my background in relationship to contemplative practices both personally and professionally. I will outline some of the specific methodologies of contemplative practices and discuss issues related to diversity, marginalization, and oppression. Then I will demonstrate some yoga postures and scripts that can be used in counselling with people of all ages and abilities and how I apply them in my practice. This workshop will be very interactive.

Expressive Arts: Instruments for Individual and Community Change (1:45-2:30)

Olena Helen Darewych

Throughout history, the arts have played a vital role in healing and transforming individuals and communities.  Due to the healing power of the arts, creative arts therapists regularly introduce arts-based interventions in counselling practices for individuals of all ages to express their thoughts and emotions not only with words but also creatively.  This workshop presents the history and theory of the developing field of expressive arts therapy and invites attendees to engage in an action-oriented and reflective drawing experiential that awakens their creativity and active imagination.  

Workshop 4:          Room 5-290, 5th Floor.  Moderator:  Carla Grey

Bodywork: Reconnecting Body, Mind, Emotions and Spirit (1:00-1:45)

Leah Rochel Weisberg

Although one knows innately that our person is one entity, over time a disconnection occurred that led to the segregation of body systems in terms of medical treatment for illness and disease.  In this workshop, the history of medicine is explored to emphasize how the body, mind, emotions and spirit became distinct entities and how this affected the well-being of the population.  An overview of the re-integration of the body-mind in medicine will then be explored, giving note to the new systems of care currently available that are comprehensive in nature.  Specific case examples will be shared, as well exploratory exercises to help us reconnect our own body-mind-spirit. Plus, the role of holistic nurses will be discussed.

A Peek into the World of Energy Medicine (1:45-2:30)

Roxana Roshon

Every individual has the intuitive ability to tap into the energy of their own body and initiate their healing potential. Energy Medicine is a way of integrating the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects of ourselves. In this experiential workshop, we will delve into acupressure, chakras, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). There are numerous success stories of recovery from physiological ailments, such as allergies, asthma, headaches, pain, and nausea, plus relief from emotional challenges, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression, as a result of using Energy Medicine. A grounding activity, a chakra meditation, and an EFT exercise will be explored together.

2:30-2:45                Break

2:45-4:30                 Panel Presentation   (OISE Library)

Community, National and Global Healing and Transforming Education

Afternoon Moderator          Peter Dunn


The Commons and Food: Moving from Commoditing to Commoning on the Path to Holistic Healing

Jennifer Sumner

This presentation will link the commons and food, using the concept of ‘commoning’ to illuminate a path to holistic healing. It will begin by describing the commons and connecting it to food, then outline commoning and its opposite, commoditing. With these ideas in place, it will explore communing, food and holistic healing, and describe the threat of commons enclosures as a barrier to holistic healing.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Healing

Brian Rice

This presentation will begin with a family perspective on inter-generational trauma of Indigenous peoples as a result of residential schools. Then Brian Rice will discuss recovery through holistic Indigenous practices including individual, community and national healing. Finally, he will conclude with his perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and possible future directions for social change. 

Transforming Post-Secondary Education

Njoki Wane

This presentation and discussion will include strategically locating the self for dialogue on promoting holistic healing in post-secondary education. How can this be achieved?



Banakonda Kennedy-Kish (Bell): My name is Awnjibinayseekwe Banakonda Kennedy-Kish (Bell). I am Bear Clan, and third degree Midewiwin. I was born on the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. I am an Ojibway woman with Irish descent informed by Anishinaube Midiiwin ceremonies, teachings, and cultural ways. As an Elder, cultural advisor, traditional practitioner and teacher, I honour, respect, and feel gratitude for my teachers, my family, and community.

Brian Rice, PhD: I am a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Recreation Management at the University of Manitoba with an emphasis on Indigenous land-based learning.  I was an organizer for two of the special events held by the TRC in Winnipeg and Montreal as well as been on the special academic committee which held its meeting at Osgood Hall law school in Toronto.  I also participated in and helped oversee two TRC ecumenical events held at the Forks in Winnipeg and at the University of Winnipeg. 

Enwei Li, R.TCMP, R.Ac: I graduated with honours from the Ontario College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and continue there as a member of the teach­ing faculty. I got my master’s degree in acupuncture from Henan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I am a consummate professional who brings caring and expertise to individuals at my clinic, the Bodhi Tree Health Clinic in Vaughan, Ontario. TCM is a way of life for me.

Iva Lloyd, BScH, BCPP, ND: I am currently President of the World Naturopathic Federation (WNF). I am a full-time practicing naturopathic doctor who has served as President of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctor (CAND) and who teaches part-time at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM).

Jennifer Sumner, PhD: I am a Lecturer in the Adult Education and Community Development Program at OISE/UT. My main research interests focus on food and food systems, sustainability, critical pedagogy and the social economy. I am the co-editor of Critical Perspectives in Food Studies.

Jo-Anne Absolon, MSW:  I am Anishinaabe kwe from Flying Post First Nation and work wholistically with incarcerated individuals.  I graduated from the Indigenous Field of Study, Faculty of Social Work MSW program at Laurier.

Kathy Absolon, MSW, PhD: I am Anishinaabe kwe from Flying Post First Nation (on my mother’s side) and British ances­try on my father’s side. I am an associate professor in the Indigenous Field of Study MSW Program and director of the Centre for Indigegogy at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Lana Brasher, MSW: I am Anishinaabe kwe from Serpent River First Nation and, at the time of sharing my story, I worked wholistically in urban Indigenous housing and community programs.  I too graduated from the Indigenous Field of Study, Faculty of Social Work MSW program.

Leah Weisberg, RN, BScN, BC-NC: I have been a Registered Nurse for the past 12 years with experience in primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare.  My interest in utilizing my full scope of practice led me to private practice where I offer holistic psychotherapy and coaching to those with mental health issues and stress-related chronic conditions.  My passion for the whole person, integrative healthcare led me to becoming President of the Canadian Holistic Nurses Association, and to opening my own integrative healthcare clinic that offers comprehensive whole person care by an inter-professional health care team.

Martha O'Campo, RN: I am a community consultant on race, culture and mental health. I was the past Director of services at Across Boundaries providing mental health and addiction services for racialized communities.

Michelle Brans, MACP, RP: I am a writer and teacher engaged in holistic-integra­tive child and family mental wellness. I am the Clinical Director of Counting Butterflies' Child, Youth & Family Wellness. I launched this agency to nurture the transformation and resilience of children, youth, and families by fostering a deep connection to oneself, others, and the natural world. I provide supervision for therapists interested in holistic-integrative models of practice.  

Njoki Wane, PhD: I am Professor and Chair of the Social Justice Education Program at OISE, University of Toronto. My research interests include gender, colonialism and development; black feminism; indigenous knowledge practices; African immigrant women in Canada; and anti-racism education.

Olena Darewych, PhD, RP, RCAT: I am a Registered Psychotherapist in Ontario, a Registered Canadian Art Therapist and Adjunct Faculty at Adler University and Wilfrid Laurier University.  I received my PhD in Expressive Therapies from Lesley University.  My current clinical work and research centres on the integration of digital technology in art therapy for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.  I am the Past President of the Canadian Art Therapy Association.

Peter A. Dunn, PhD: I have been a professor in the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, for 30 years. My research has focused on disability rights, social housing, the feminiza­tion of poverty, social inclusion and holistic healing. Prior to becoming an academic, I was a grassroots community organizer and social planner working with marginalized groups in Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. I am the Editor of our new book with over 30 contributors entitled Holistic Healing: Theories, Practices and Social Change. 

Roxana Roshon, PhD: I received my doctorate in Environmental Biology and Toxicology in 1997 from the University of Guelph. After years of working for government and consulting, I chose to pursue a career in Energy Medicine because of my own healing experiences. I am trained in acupressure points, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, and other holistic healing modalities. 

Roy Moodley, PhD: I am an Associate Professor in Counselling Psychology in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, OISE, University of Toronto. I am the Director of the Center for Diversity in Counselling and Psychotherapy. My research areas: Global South psychologies; Critical multicultural therapy; Race, culture and psychoanalysis.

Ted (Hung-Tat) Lo, MBBS, MRCPych, FRCPC: I am a cultural psychiatrist in Toronto. I was as Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. I also founded the Friends of Alternative & Complementary Therapies Society; and founded the Integrative Mental Health Centre of Toronto.

Timothy Gordon, MSW: I am a social worker who specializes in working with people of all ages who have at­tachment and trauma-related issues. I currently work independently running my own practice, the Zen Social Worker and work using meditative practices with government organizations including Canada’s Parliament, non-profit organizations and many diverse communities.