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Reducing trauma & improving life trajectories

Child and youth advocacy centres’ role in supporting families to heal

In this presentation, SeaStar child and youth advocates will discuss SeaStar Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC) as a model for trauma-informed practice, and present practical strategies that social workers can use to grow safety and capacity for their clients, themselves, and their profession as a whole.

Accredited facility dog Dorado will be present for this presentation and accompanied by his handler, Kathy Bourgeois

Speakers: Kathy Bourgeois, Christina Shaffer


Kathy Bourgeois, MSW, RSW, holds a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. She has worked to support people in crisis for more than twenty years, with experience in child protection, advocacy, and supporting families experiencing homelessness. Kathy has a keen interest in trauma, its impact on our whole beings, and the ways in which trauma may be supported to be resolved. Now in her role as a child and youth advocate with SeaStar CYAC, Kathy supports children and families who have experienced abuse as they navigate the various systems and steps that may be involved. Building on this work, Kathy developed a psycho-educational workshop series for caregivers and parents of young people, which enrich caregiver capacity with the ultimate goal of assisting families to ameliorate conditions which foster trauma.

Kathy is also a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance, having completed her yoga teacher training in 2017 from the Lakshmi Rising Yoga School in Costa Rica. She is handler to Dorado, SeaStar’s accredited facility dog. 

Christina Shaffer.jpeg

Christina Shaffer, BScM, is the project coordinator of the SeaStar CYAC with the IWK’s Suspected Trauma and Abuse Response Team. She has been involved in the design, development, and growth of the SeaStar CYAC since the program’s beginning in 2010. This program has now served over 1,200 children and youth, and has received the IWK Board Award of Leadership, and Irving and Ruth Pink Award for Youth Development and Social Justice. Christina holds a Bachelor of Science in midwifery, and has a background in communications and design. Having previously worked in the fields of health and law, Christina has a strong interest in client-centred, evidence-based care, and user-focused design.