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Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion - Bringing Mindfulness to Bear | Panel

member events Oct 20, 2020
diversity inclusion mindfulness

This panel discussion moderated by Mabinti Dennis, guest curator, brought together Dr. Michael Yellow Bird MSW, PHD, Rodney Diverlus, Black Lives Matter Canada, Michele Chaban, MSW, RSW, PhD and Valerie Brown, JD, MA, PCC, to reflect upon anti-racism, diversity and inclusion and bringing mindfulness to bear.

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Featured speakers: Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, PHD, Rodney Diverlus, Valerie Brown, JD, MA, PCC,  and Michele Chaban MSW/RSW, PhD.

Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, PHD is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. He is a citizen of the Three Affiliated Tribes, (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara). He is the author of several scholarly articles, co-edited books, and the co-author of two books: Sahnish (Arikara) Ethnobotany (2020); and Decolonizing Holistic Pathways Towards Integrative Healing in Social Work (2021). His community and scholarly work focus on the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization; ancestral health, mindfulness, mindful decolonization, and neurodecolonization; and the cultural significance of Rez dogs. He is the founder of The Centre for Mindful Decolonization and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba and has been active in re-introducing mindfulness approaches to Indigenous communities around the world.

Rodney Diverlus co-founder of Black Lives Matter Canada  (@rodneydiverlus | He/Him) is a Haitian-Canadian multi-hyphenate artist, artivist, and community activator. He is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Canada. As the lead strategist for Black Lives Matter in Canada, he manages the the movement’s campaigns and curates large-scale public installations that blur the lines of protest, art, and performance. He is author and co-editor of Canadian bestseller: “Until We are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada.”

Valerie Brown JD, MA, PCC, is an international retreat leader, writer, speaker, accredited leadership coach, and Principal of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in application and integration of mindfulness and leadership. She transformed her high-pressure, twenty-year career as a lawyer-lobbyist, representing educational institutions and nonprofits, to human-scale work with leaders and teams to foster trustworthy and authentic connections. Through her writing, she seeks to foster a more compassionate and peaceful world. Her books include The Road that Teaches: Lessons in Transformation through Travel (QuakerBridge Media, 2012) and The Mindful School Leader: Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School (Corwin, 2014), named one of the ‘best books on courage’ in 2014 by the Center for Courage & Renewal. She has written numerous articles and essays on the topic of spirituality and mindfulness and has studied and practiced mindfulness in the Plum Village tradition since 1995 and was ordained in the Order of Interbeing by Thich Nhat Hanh in 2003. Valerie’s extensive training includes, the Center for Courage & Renewal and Parker J. Palmer, the Institute for Transformational Leadership at Georgetown University, the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, the Center for Compassion Focused Therapy, the Ojai Foundation, the C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology (NYC), Chestnut Hill College (PA) Certificate in Holistic Spirituality, and The Leadership Circle ProfileTM. Valerie is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and as certified Kundalini yoga teacher, she helps leaders discover the wisdom of the body. She leads an annual transformational pilgrimage to El Camino de Santiago, Spain, to celebrate the power of sacred places.

Michele Chaban MSW, RSW (Toronto), PhD. (Wales) began integrating mindfulness and mindfulness meditation into oncology and end of life care over 24 years ago, before mindfulness and mindfulness meditation was as well known as it is today. Her first mentors were Sogyal Rinpoche, HH The Dalai Lama, Dr. Herbert Benson (Harvard Mind Body Institute). Michele introduced these practices to individuals and families as a form of non-pharma pain management, stress reduction and to enhance their well being. She had some of the first mindfulness meditation groups at the University of Toronto when she was the Director of the Psycho-social-spiritual team for Temmy Latner’s Center for Palliative Care. Michele is the Founder and former Co-Director of the Applied Mindfulness Meditation program at the School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto.

Moderator: Mabinti Dennis, Guest Curator 

Mabinti Dennis has been studying and practicing mindfulness meditation through the Shambhala Meditation tradition for over 20 years. Her teacher is Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the spiritual leader of the Shambhala Community. After many years of practicing meditation, Mabinti decided to be trained as a Meditation Instructor. This gave her an opportunity to teach meditation and support others on their meditation path. Over the years she has co-facilitated meditation workshops and weekend retreats at the Juniper Hill Retreat Centre, the Shambhala Meditation Centre Toronto as well as at community organizations.

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