(Toronto, ON – July 27, 2021) – Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada announced today the finalists for the 2021 Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award, which recognizes extraordinary Canadians whose efforts are making a positive difference in the lives of children and youth involved in the child welfare system.
“This award shows us how the actions of one individual can make significant change in the lives of young people who have experienced or at risk of abuse and neglect,” says Valerie McMurtry, President & CEO, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, the country’s leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth and families involved in the child welfare system.
The Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award winner and finalists will direct a total of $75,000 in grants from Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada to child welfare, child rights or child- and youth-serving organizations. The national award winner will be announced at Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada’s virtual Stand Up for Kids Night presented by CIBC on September 9, 2021.
The 2021 finalists and award winner are selected by The Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award Committee, chaired by Robert Sedran, along with an esteemed group of community and business leaders recognized for their passion and dedication to making a difference in the lives of kids in the child welfare system.
“The finalists selected are advocates for Canada’s most vulnerable children and youth,” says Robert Sedran, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Strategy, Planning & Corporate Development, CIBC. “They are not only focused on addressing the current needs of children and youth who are at-risk but also on improving outcomes for children and youth in care and those transitioning out of the child welfare system.”
The 2021 Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award finalists are:
• Mary Birdsell, Executive Director, Justice for Children and Youth (Toronto, ON)
Mary Birdsell is the Executive Director at Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY), where she is dedicated to protecting and advancing the legal and human rights of children and youth. She is recognized as a leading voice for children’s rights and youth justice in Canada, spending 25 years supporting young people who are facing significant adversity – advocating for their rights in pursuit of educational success, access to supports, resolution of conflict and ultimately safety, dignity and wellbeing. Mary is also a tireless advocate for systemic change, arguing many leading youth justice cases at all levels of court and appearing at legislative hearings and policy discussions. She is currently the Chair of the Child and Youth Law section of the Canadian Bar Association, is on the Board of A Way Home Canada and is a former board member of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children. Mary is the co-author of Prosecuting and Defending Youth Criminal Justice Cases: A Practitioner’s Handbook, 2nd ed. 2019.
• Dr. Jean M. Clinton, Clinical Professor McMaster University, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences (Hamilton, ON)
Dr. Jean M. Clinton is a Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster, division of Child Psychiatry. She is on staff at McMaster Children’s Hospital and is an Associate in the Department of Child Psychiatry at Sick Kids. She is a Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy, as well as a Zero to Three Academy Fellow since 2013. Jean has been a consultant to children and youth mental health programs, child welfare, and primary care for over 30 years. Jean is a nationally and internationally renowned advocate for children’s issues. Her interest lies in the crucial role relationships and connectedness play in brain development. Jean champions the development of a national, comprehensive child well-being strategy including a system of early learning and care for all young children and their families. She is equally committed to ensuring the needs and voices of children and youth are heard and respected. Jean has also authored her first book, Love Builds Brains.
• Kelly Holmes, Executive Director, Resource Assistance for Youth (Winnipeg, MB)
Kelly Holmes is a leader and innovator in Winnipeg’s youth homelessness sector as one of the founders of Resource Assistance for Youth where she is currently Executive Director. Her focus has been on the design and delivery of a responsive, youth-centered, street-level program that meets the unique and individual needs of youth in Winnipeg. Nationally, she has been involved in the creation of A Way Home Canada, the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness, and is currently an active board member on the Catherine Donnelly Foundation. Locally, Kelly was a catalyst in the development of Here and Now: The Winnipeg Plan to End Youth Homelessness. In 2019 she was invited to participate on Manitoba’s Illicit Drug Task Force, advocating for youth-oriented solutions to Winnipeg’s Methamphetamine crisis. Kelly is a proud Cree-Icelandic Metis, her spirit name is Yellow Thunderbird Woman. She is committed to creating and holding space for young people to find their own identities and personal power.
• Heather O’Keefe, Executive Director, StepStones for Youth (Toronto, ON)
Heather O’Keefe is the founder and Executive Director of StepStones for Youth, a thriving Toronto charity that creates transformative outcomes in the lives of young people involved in Ontario’s Child Protection Services. StepStones’ innovative programming significantly increases educational attainment, long-term housing, and strong support networks while reducing homelessness, criminal involvement, and isolation for these children and youth. With extensive work experience in child protection, personal experience as a foster parent, and her work at StepStones for Youth, Heather is a respected and leading visionary in the field of child welfare. She has developed unique and highly effective methods of addressing the unmet needs of young people in and transitioning out of the child welfare system. Heather also provides consultation and support for developing charities in the areas of strategic planning, program development, research, and productivity increase.
• Sam Pothier, AYA Case Manager, Futures Forward (Winnipeg, MB)
Sam Pothier brings a lifetime of personal experience and years of professional experience to the government care community. Their work has included education, transition support, and leadership development. Sam previously worked at the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks and Adoptive Families Association of BC and was the lead on developing the Premier’s Award nominated website AgedOut.com. Sam has been on the board for the International Foster Care Organization and the National Youth in Care Networks. Currently, Sam is the AYA (Agreements with Young Adults program) Case Manager for the Futures Forward program and provides all students receiving a youth from care tuition waiver with the support and connections they need to be successful in achieving their academic dreams. Sam has also presented at conferences about best practices in the child welfare system. Sam cares deeply about their peers – young people in and from care – and helps them to feel valued and respected, encouraging them to follow their dreams.
• Kelly Tallon Franklin Chief Executive Director, Courage for Freedom (St. Thomas, ON)
Kelly Tallon Franklin is the founder and Chief Executive Director of Courage for Freedom, which focuses on caring for minor aged victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation while increasing Ontarians’ awareness. She has provided care for children and youth since 2007 and has mentored and trained thousands of professionals in human trafficking and sexual exploitation prevention and intervention strategies. Kelly’s work has created national awareness movements and developed support for victim survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation that include equine therapy, as well as revolutionary trauma-informed and person-centric care approaches. She has been acknowledged and awarded accolades globally as a survivor, advocate and activist champion of minor aged children and youth in care. Today, she is sought after to mentor and train agencies and workers in solutions-based, self-directed care modules to activate youth empowerment and amplify their voices for systemic, institutional, and legislative change in protection. Kelly is also a best-selling author and award-winning speaker.
Established in 2018, the award is named in honour of Lynn Factor, C.M., O.Ont, MSW, RSW, LL.D., a long-standing Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada volunteer and a past Board Chair. A social worker by profession, Lynn has served for over 35 years on the frontlines of child welfare and has seen the damaging impact on children living under the weight of abuse, neglect and trauma. In recognition of Lynn’s extraordinary commitment to Canada’s most vulnerable children, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada and Lynn’s husband, Sheldon Inwentash, named the Stand Up for Kids National Award in her honour.
The Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award is part of Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada’s Stand Up for Kids national campaign for child welfare, which is uniting Canadians in a shared mission to change the lives of our country’s most at-risk kids – those who have experienced abuse and neglect.
About Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada
Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada is our country’s leading charity dedicated to standing up for children and families involved in the child welfare system and standing alongside youth with lived experience. We raise and grant funds and deliver a wide range of high-impact programs and services in partnership with 104 child-and youth-serving agencies across the country. Last year, we supported over 46,500 children and youth and 12,300 families. Find out more at cafdn.org
For more information:
Lisa Lipkin Communications for Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada
[email protected]; 416-988-4189