Realizing the Pledge Team

The Defining Moments Canada Team

Neil Orford – President
Jenifer Terry – Executive Director
Anna England – Projects Manager & Digital Curator
Louis Lebel – Digital Content Manager
Amanda Merpaw – Education Manager
Janelle Bernard – Communications Manager
Dylan Reid – Content Editor
Lesley Fraser – Copy Editor
Louis Lebel – Digital Productions Coordinator
Vincent Sabourin – Videographer
Linn Øyen Farley – Website Design & Technical Expert

Contributing Educators

Renee Allen

Education Collaborator

Renee Allen is a multi-hyphenate Jamaican-born, Toronto-based, writer-educator, with a passion for working with children and youth. She is deeply committed to work that interrogates and addresses interlocking systems of oppression. Her writing appears in Zora, THIS magazine and PREE. Renee is also a recent graduate of the Masters of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with a book collection that keeps outgrowing her bookcase.

Brett Conway

Education Collaborator

Brett Conway is currently a pre-service teacher at Concordia University of Edmonton. He has a M.A.s in English Literature and Asian Studies from the University of Ottawa and Sejong University, South Korea. He has taught at post-secondary schools in South Korea, Ontario, and Albera. He has published on a variety of topics including trauma, gender identity, and post-modernism.

Deborah Dobbins

Education Collaborator

Deborah Dobbins is a cultural and special education consultant and a third generation African American Albertan. She is the President and CEO of Shiloh Centre for Multicultural Roots (SCMR), a not-for-profit society founded in 2010 that is grounded in a mosaic of rich, inclusive African American Canadian heritage. She has recently retired from a 34+ year teaching and administration career in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Leah Judd

Education Collaborator

Leah Judd has a passion for teaching Social Studies.  Working in Sechelt, BC, Leah has been lucky to work with students who embrace inquiry learning and created locker museum displays during the pandemic to share their curated stories with the school community.  Leah shares her enthusiasm for Social Studies as editor of Salon, an online quarterly publication from the Social Studies Educators Network of Canada @ssencressc

Pamela MacIsaac

Education Collaborator

Pamela MacIsaac is a writer, researcher, and educator who divides her time between the Bay of Quinte and rural Algoma. She has taught at every level from elementary school to university, including her current role at Trent University Durham, and has served as a vice-principal, academic coach, and consultant in the independent school sector. She has published in both the literary and academic fields and is currently writing a novel and conducting research into the impact of class-based reactions to the use of AI on the relationship between writing teachers and students.

Leticia Nadler

Education Collaborator

Leticia lives in Edmonton, Alberta. She has worked as a K-12 French Immersion teacher and also as a curriculum consultant for Alberta Education. She now teaches college and university students while pursuing her doctoral studies in educational leadership at the Faculty of Education, University of Alberta. She has experience in developing learning materials that enhance students’ critical thinking skills.

Doriane Ossene

Education Collaborator

Doriane’s background includes education in France and learning a lot about Canada through her studies at York University in International Studies and Canadian studies, which she will be graduating from in 2023. She is passionate about stories people don’t know about and loves making them known. Her dream is to work in a field that supports underrepresented communities, in Canada and around the world.

Sara Wheaton

Education Collaborator

Sara Wheaton is a certified geography and history teacher in Ontario. For the past decade she has been working as the Manager of Education Programs for The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, designing engaging and inclusive programs for Canadian Teachers. She is also an occasional teacher for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. She resides in Ottawa on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Nation.

Natalie Zacharewski

Education Coordinator

Natalie is a museum education professional based in Edmonton, Alberta. She has a passion for creating learning opportunities for students of all ages through immersive, inquiry-based experiences. She has worked in museums and heritage institutions across Canada and the United States such as Museums of Burlington, the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum and Colonial Williamsburg. She has held the role of Faculty Instructor for the Public Programs course in the Certificate in Museum Studies Program with the Alberta Museums Association. She has also worked with the British Columbia Museums Association as Museum Education Consultant, assisting small museums develop educational programs. Natalie holds a Master of Arts in History from the University of Ottawa, specializing in Canadian, American and gender history.

Contributing Historians

Matthew Barrett

Graphic Illustrator

Matthew Barrett is an illustrator and historian who specializes in the creation of graphic histories and comics that visualize fascinating stories of the past. He received a PhD in history from Queen’s University and was a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Canadian War Museum. He is the author of Scandalous Conduct: Canadian Officer Courts Martial, 1914–45, and is the co-author and illustrator of Through Their Eyes: A Graphic History of Hill 70 and the First World War.

Brad St. Croix

Historical Contributor

Brad St. Croix is a freelance historian and researcher. He earned his PhD in history from the University of Ottawa. His dissertation examined the legacy of the Battle of Hong Kong in Canada. He has also written numerous articles for the Juno Beach Centre and the Canadian Military History Journal. He has worked on public history projects with several organizations including the RCAF Foundation, the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, the Canadian War Museum, and Project 44. He runs the OTD Military History social media accounts and YouTube channel.

Coleen Birkett

Historical/Educational Contributor

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

Historical/Educational Contributor

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.

Patrick-Aurel Fournier

Historical Contributor

Patrick-Aurel Fournier holds degrees in both History and Criminal Justice from Nipissing University and is currently working towards his Bachelors of Education and completing his Masters Degree in History with his research titled: “Poppy Ville: The Commemorative Transformation of Welberg, Netherlands, 1945-2021”. Pat has always had a deep passion for history, more specifically in the reasons why and methods behind commemorations. In 2019, Pat was selected as 1 of 7 Canadian guides to work at the Juno Beach Center in Normandy, France; during the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Born and raised in Northern Ontario and currently living in North Bay, ON; he hopes to one day begin teaching in the area and help foster the love and curiosity for history as was sparked in him by past educators. Pat is extremely excited to be able to help DMC in sharing our country’s history and hopes to spark curiosity and passion within his readers.

Howard Akler

Howard Akler

Historical Contributor

Howard Akler a writer and the author of two novels, The City Man and Splitsville, and Men of Action, a memoir.

Brendan Campisi

Brendan Campisi is a student, researcher, and occasional writer living on Anishinaabe and Lenni Lenape land in London, Ontario. He has a BA in History from the University of Guelph and is currently studying at Huron University College. He is interested in the histories of labour and left-wing politics in Canada and internationally, and in understanding Canadian history as part of the histories of the British Empire and settler colonialism globally.