The Defining Moments Canada Team
Neil Orford – President
Jenifer Terry – Executive Director
Anna England – Projects Manager & Digital Curator
Louis Lebel – Digital Content Manager
Janelle von Kleist-Bernard – Head of Digital Marketing & Communications
John Lorinc – Chief Editor
Vincent Sabourin – Videographer
Linn Øyen Farley – Website Design & Technical Expert
Coleen Birkett is an educator with over twenty years of classroom experience. In addition to teaching, Coleen has, as a freelance writer, written many articles for community publications. She has also co-authored the textbook Black History: Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas, which is in use in school boards throughout the GTA, Nova Scotia and Bermuda. She has been involved with the Ontario Black History Society as a curriculum writer and consultant. Additionally, Coleen is instrumental in providing leadership in the development, organization and facilitation of very successful educational forums for youth during Black Heritage month.
Coleen’s experience as an educator is quite diverse as she has taught in Central America, Toronto and Bermuda in both public and private schools. She has developed and presented workshops to educators in West Africa and Bermuda. Additionally, Coleen was selected to be a member of an evaluation team to assess the eligibility of a private school in New York for accreditation. In 2009, she was a recipient of the Award for Excellence in Teaching for her work in Bermuda. Miss Birkett has also worked as an Instructional Coach for the Toronto District School Board’s Literacy and Numeracy initiative. Coleen is a co-developer and co-presenter of See Us, Learn Us: Teaching the Black Canadian Experience, a nation-wide webinar for educators in partnership with Nelson Education. She has also served as a CRRP Reviewer for Nelson’s Grade 9 Destreamed Math online resources and student textbook. Coleen is currently involved in writing resources for Nelson Education based on the material presented in the See Us, Learn Us Webinar as well as for literacy. Additionally, Coleen works with school boards in Canada sharing innovative resources and strategies for incorporating the Black Canadian experience across the curriculum from Kindergarten through grade 12.
Greg Birkett is a published co-author (Black History: Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas – Emond Montgomery Publications, The Great Black North Poetry Anthology-Frontenac House Poetry) and a recognized educator (Governor-General Award for Teaching Excellence Finalist, 2011, A.H.E.N. Excellence in Teaching Award winner, 2016). Greg has written curriculum for the Ontario Ministry of Education and has served as a curriculum consultant for the OBHS (Ontario Black History Society). He is also the co-developer and co-presenter of See Us, Learn Us: Teaching the Black Canadian Experience, a nationwide webinar for educators and education stakeholders in partnership with Nelson Education. He has and continues to create material and resources for Nelson’s digital learning eco-base Edwin, some of which correspond with the topics presented in the See Us, Learn Us webinar. Greg has also worked as Senior Writer for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Kids website and has also written freelance for the Toronto Star. Greg is a poet and playwright: Two plays that Greg wrote, Do You Remember Me and Pieces of a Black Woman’s Soul, were performed at the Toronto Fringe Festival, Toronto’s largest theatre and performance festival, and for sold-out audiences at the Sandbox Theatre in downtown Toronto respectively.
Greg is the founder of G.I.A. Productions, a youth-focused organization that uses the artistic mediums of spoken word, drama, dance, and music to stage original productions that promote education, history, and positivity in the community. He has appeared on CityTV News and Breakfast Television, Global News, CTV News to discuss issues pertaining to anti-Black racism, its impact on the education system, and strategies to address these ongoing challenges. He has also been featured in articles in the Globe and Mail, the National Observer, The Toronto Star, CBC News and Saltwire highlighting his leadership in the development of resources that promote inclusive education.
Gillian Kerr is a marketing and communications professional with over 25 years of experience as a senior communication leader. Now as the owner of IdeaStove, and independent communications consultancy, she helps organizations, artists, project leaders and entrepreneurs tell stories and bring ideas to life. Though research, creative writing, coaching, and problem solving, Gillian widens and celebrates community and illuminates the new, the good, the curious and the bold.
Miles Morrisseau is a Métis writer, journalist and multimedia producer from the Métis Homeland in Manitoba. He began his career as a writer/broadcaster for CBC Radio in Winnipeg. He produced documentaries on Sunday Morning, CBC radio’s flagship documentary program. As a national native affairs broadcaster, he covered the Mohawk Gambling War in Akwesasne, the Death of the Meech Lake Accord and was one of only mainstream journalists who had access behind the barricades during the Oka Crisis, entering on one of a handful of boats that smuggled in food and medicine. He was Editor-in-Chief of Nativebeat, the Beat of a Different Drum, which was chosen best Native American Monthly by the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA). He was Editor-in-Chief of Aboriginal Voices Magazine and Indian Country Today. He produced Buffalo Tracks with Evan Adams for APTN. As program manager for NCI-FM, Manitoba’s Indigenous Radio Network, he helped launch Streetz FM the first radio station by and for Indigenous youth in Winnipeg, MB. He has six children and seven grandchildren and has been with his partner Shelly Bressette for over 35 years. He lives in Grand Rapids, Manitoba on one of the last pieces of Métis land still in the hands of Métis people.
Carla-Jean Stokes has a Masters of History from Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as a Masters in Photograph Preservation and Collections Management from Toronto Metropolitan University. Her MA, “British Official First World War Photographs, 1916-1918: Arranging and Contextualizing a Collection of Prints at the Art Gallery of Ontario,” won the 2015 Photographic Historical Society of Canada thesis prize. Since then, she’s worked as a writer, researcher, lecturer, and curator, and is fascinated by less-prominent moments and figures in military history.