Our Team

The Children’s Grief Foundation of Canada was established in 2019 by a group of six community members. The founding members included: Christina Walton, Amelia Manera, Dr. Marissa Slaven, Teri Crockford, Ken Singh and Richard Anderson.

These six individuals had a vision which was to support grieving children and their families in Canada.

 

“We know that there are children suffering. We know they have lost people they care about, parents, siblings, and grandparents. Some of these deaths were expected and others were sudden, shocking and tragic. We cannot look away from the deep sadness in their young eyes. We acknowledge their loss and feelings of helplessness. We are on a mission to help these children and to empower them.”

Our Current Board Members

Christina Walton

President

Christina has been a licensed Funeral Director since 1988 and a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist since 2005. As part of the community, Christina works alongside the children’s grief agencies who share her desire and passion to help grieving children and their families.  She is called upon frequently as a guest speaker to share her insights and understanding of grief, and the grieving experience, from the mourner’s perspective.  Christina is a devoted mother to 3 adult children and knows firsthand how important it is to support children, to help them grieve and grow and live their best lives.


Lisa Smith

position TBA

Lisa C. Smith is an experienced Nova Scotia Community College faculty member with over 26 years of demonstrated history of working as an adult educator, specializing in funeral service education. She is skilled in educational technology, team building, facilitation, fundraising, and leadership. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Honours from Mt. St. Vincent University, a Diploma focused on Funeral Service and Mortuary Science from Simmons Institute of Funeral Service Inc., and a Community College Adult Educator Certificate. Lisa is a life-long learner whose interests include health and wellness, community support initiatives, world travel and photography.

Dr. Marissa Slaven

chair

Dr. Slaven has been a palliative care physician for over twenty-five years, first in Boston, Massachusetts and then in Hamilton, Ontario. She has had the privilege of caring for thousands of patients and their families and has been profoundly moved by their journeys. As a mother of three herself, she is always deeply troubled by the grief of children losing loved ones. Children’s grief is heartbreaking and lasts a lifetime. She is inspired every day by her patients, their families and their communities and she hopes that as a board member of Children’s Grief Foundation she will be able to give something back to those most vulnerable in our society.

Ken Singh

Treasurer

Ken Singh worked in Businesses for many years as a Manager in Banking, and then as a Fraud Investigator and Compliance Officer with regulatory boards. He has been actively working to support many groups in our ethnic communities with their transition to a new way of life in Canada and the challenges that pose. The last twenty years have been spent working with the Bereavement sector, understanding the effect death can have on families and friends. The loss of a loved one is life-altering and working with the CGFC is one way of him assisting families to cope with their loss. 



Dr. Kim Alvarado

CHAIR

Dr. Kim Alvarado is a registered nurse with over 30 years experience spanning from frontline critical care nurse to hospital administrator of a palliative care program. She has worked with families and physicians to help improve the resources available to children grieving the loss of important people in their lives. As a mother and step-mother with five grandchildren, she has learned that children grieve differently than adults and they need special care. As a member of the Children’s Grief Foundation, she hopes to support access to bereavement expertise for grieving children.

 

 

Susan Barrett

position tba

Susan has been a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer for over 22 years, having the honour to have walked with hundreds of families on their grief journey. Since 2016 Susan has primarily focused on the importance of end-of-life planning, helping funeral homes across Canada educate their communities on the importance of preparedness. Susan currently works for an Ontario based trust company as the Business Development Officer for Atlantic Canada, providing pre-arranged funeral funding solutions to funeral homes. Susan lives in Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador with her husband, stepson, three dogs and five chickens, and enjoys travel, camping and hiking in her time off.

 

 
 

Dr. Oren Levine

POSITION TBA

Oren Levine is a medical oncologist practicing in Hamilton, Ontario.  He participates in clinical work, research, and medical education. One of his main interests is enabling compassionate communication about serious illness with patients and families facing advanced cancer diagnoses.  He is engaged in quality improvement work and communication skills training for clinicians and medical learners aiming to improve end-of-life care. He appreciates the opportunity and privilege to participate in the care of individuals suffering from cancer.  He sees the distress experienced by patients, caregivers, and families when dealing with serious, chronic, and terminal illness. He also witnesses the impact of loss and grief on families and hopes to strengthen resources to support children through bereavement.                          

Bridget Halfyard

POSITION TBA

Bridget Halfyard is a Licensed Funeral Director, Certified Funeral Celebrant, and Instructor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. Bridget has worked in Funeral Services for over 8 years. Prior to graduating from Mount Royal University in the Funeral Directing Program, Bridget graduated with a BA from the University of Waterloo, and then earned her Master of Divinity at the University of Toronto.  Currently, she is working on her Doctor of Ministry at St. Stephen’s College, University of Alberta. Bridget has a passion for helping people find positive ways to carry their grief. She takes extra special care when this involves helping children understand the funeral process and the grief that they are exposed to at a young age. She claims that her best education has been her own journey through personal grief and loss. 

Claire Nicholson

POSITION TBA

Claire Nicholson founded and co-owned a Digital Marketing Agency in Hamilton for over 27 years, partnering with businesses and organizations in a diverse range of industries to help ensure their online marketing success. Having experienced childhood grief first-hand; she gained an understanding for the need for grief support. Learning that children grieve differently than adults; and having watched those around her suffer from the emotional impact of loss, she welcomed the opportunity to help in any way she can. Claire hopes to use her experience to help ensure that grief support is available to every child and family that needs it.

 

 

 

 

Admin

Shipra Taneja

administrative coordinator

Shipra Taneja has been working as the Administrative Coordinator for the CGFC since 2019. She is responsible for the daily operations and social media management of the foundation. 

Past Board Members

Teri Crockford – Chair (2019- 2022)

Amelia Manera – Vice President (2019 -2023)

Richard Anderson – Secretary (2019-2023)