The Trout Lake Youth Council owls! @HELPPBP outreach project #education

Last night, I had the pleasure of facilitating an introductory session to the Trout Lake Youth Council as part of the HELP YOUTH CANADA Outreach Project.  I am using creative engagement in order to dialogue on EDUCATION with youth and program leaders at a variety of organizations in the Lower Mainland- to learn from the participants, gather data and to build connection and awareness about HELP YOUTH CANADA’s bursary program.

My main creative engagement tool for this project continues to be sock monkey making as a means to create safe space for dialogue– but last night, as it was a short intro session, we improvised and using only felt pens and crayons, speed-drew OWLS and then wrote answers to pertinent questions.  I will be transcribing the outcomes, but needed to share these images right now!  The owls from last night are absolutely charming.

The youth will be signing up for three different projects:

• Project Backpack

• Sock Monkey Workshop

• In-depths youth forum on education

I obsess about the power of drawing, the mark making by any of my participants and the beauty of the results.  ALWAYS.


Huge thank you to Bernie Dionne and the council for hosting me and to my friend, Beverley, for assisting me!


Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 11.25.13 AM

HELP YOUTH CANADA:Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 11.27.50 AM

Sock owls and creative engagement



These crazy little sock owls are wonderful for creating dialogue around the craft table!




OWL talking piece for tomorrow’s professional development day at a local middle school.  The owl feathers- a gift from Kevin Cowan








Our intergenerational sock owls will be on display next week at Mulberry PARC’s Ignite Your Passion event (September 28, 2017 2-4 PM) as part of ACTIVE AGING WEEK!

See also:

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 8.03.57 PM

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 8.04.46 PM

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 8.06.27 PM

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 8.07.27 PM

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 8.09.35 PM

Heron Panel donated to “Hear Me Now” youth film fest

As part of the 100 Herons Art Project that has been supporting arts programming for refugee and immigrant youth, this panel will be donated to the HEAR ME NOW film festival for their silent auction!

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 10.38.25 AM

“Muslim Food Bank’s HOPE for Youth Program (Healing Opportunities through Prevention and Education) is hosting The Hear Me Now Film Festival on September 9, 2017 at the Shadbolt Theatre.

This will be our first Film Festival where we will be screening digital stories created by local Muslim Youth ages 12-18. Along with that for entertainment we will showcase a variety of talented local Muslim Youth. This program is a platform for Muslim Youth to share their voices, experiences and stories in the community at large. The event will also feature presentations and displays about the Muslim Food bank’s HOPE for Youth programs.”

Also check out:Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 10.43.30 AM

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 10.34.01 AM


Sisterhood collages with youth who have a passion to lead


I was delighted to facilitate a collaging workshop with a group of young women last night who have been participating in Passion to Lead’s Leadership Program since November.  We focused on the theme of sisterhood.  The resulting collection of collages are simply beautiful and will be grouped together into one piece.  It was a therapeutic, healing evening of creative play, laughter and dialogue.

Special thank you to Loretta Cella, Passion to Lead (Passion Foundation), Marleen, Daniella, youth coordinators, youth participants, Burnaby Neighbourhood House, Darcy Glip for collaging supplies, and of course, the dogs: Lucy and Honey!



“Women are going to form a chain, a greater sisterhood than the world has ever known.” – Nellie McClung

“A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.” – Isadora James

Day 4 and 5 Inside Out Project Summer 2015: Digging Deeper

INSIDE OUT PROJECT: OWN YOUR JOURNEY- Breaking the cycle of violence through creativity

Inside Out Project – Own Your Journey SUMMER 2015 is a three week intensive arts-based program running out of Mountainside Secondary School (July 6-24, 2015) for youth ages 13-20 that uses the vehicles of therapeutic art, photography and stop motion animation to teach life and transferable skills while developing self-empowerment, peer to peer interaction, community connections and by providing tools to make healthy, non-violent choices. The goal for Inside Out is to help students address the root causes of violence (with a special focus on violence against women) through creative expression. The program allows students to creatively reflect on self, to work in a team and to experience critical engagement and transformative changes that shift their attitudes and behaviors in order to prevent violence. Three experienced facilitators (Ian Powell, Erin Ross, Kat Thorsen) provide instruction and support.


Day 1, July 6, 2015: Own Your Journey LINK

Day 2, July 7, 2015: VPD Mounted Unit LINK

Day 3, July 8, 2015: Animation and anatomical hearts LINK

Day 4 and 5: Digging in deeper.

We were busy last few days!  Hands-On Animation Tests, Public Service Announcement Discussions, Mind Mapping, Shane Koyczan TEDTalk, Project Planning, Therapeutic Arts and Crafts, Dialoguing, Creative Process etc…

What I love seeing unfold are the connections forming within the group.

Here are some highlights from Day 4 and 5:     —

I sit before flowers
hoping they will train me in the art
of opening up

I stand on mountain tops believing
that avalanches will teach me to let go

I know

but I am here to learn.
― Shane Koyczan


It has quickly become apparent that this is our hub/dialogue/creativity table. We move back and forth naturally between the computer lab and this room where we do old fashioned handmade stuff and group dialogue/mindmapping.

It hurts to stretch your wings. But doesn’t it hurt even more to let them atrophy?

You can survive without Creativity. But you won’t ever come fully alive & unapologetically yourself, unless you practice it, every damn day. – Andréa Balt, Creative Rehab


Next week we begin our group animation project!  Stay tuned!

The Inside Out Project- Own Your Journey Summer 2015 is offered to youth at no cost thanks to a grant from the Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) in partnership with the Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division (VSCPD), BC Ministry of Justice.


Animating Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree at Mountainside Secondary.

An extension of the Inside Out Project Own Your Journey  at Mountainside Secondary 2014-2015, the animation portion- spearheaded by my colleague and dear friend, Ian Powell- engaged students in a deep and meaningful way.  Ian chose The Red Tree by Shaun Tan as the vehicle to help students address social and emotional intelligence, self-reflection and empowerment as well as project planning and passion-based learning.  Students worked individually or in small groups to interpret and animate each page of the dark and remarkable book:

Screen shot 2015-06-20 at 10.36.49 AM

Image source

The Red Tree is a story without any particular narrative; a series of distinct imaginary worlds as self-contained images which invite readers to draw their own meaning in the absence of any written explanation. As a concept, the book is inspired by the impulse of children and adults alike to describe feelings using metaphor – monsters, storms, sunshine, rainbows and so on. Moving beyond cliché, I sought painted images that might further explore the expressive possibilities of this kind of shared imagination, which could be at once strange and familiar. A nameless young girl appears in every picture, a stand-in for ourselves; she passes helplessly through many dark moments, yet ultimately finds something hopeful at the end of her journey. Shaun Tan – source

 Congratulations to all who worked on the piece. Your interpretations are breathtaking and your dedication to the project an inspiration!

Screen shot 2015-06-20 at 10.42.20 AM














Screen shot 2015-06-20 at 10.58.47 AM

Screen shot 2015-06-20 at 10.59.12 AM

Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree, Mountainside Secondary School 2015:

The dream has become an urgent quest. Walk for Water Nepal.

Kamala and Sunkosi of the KYT Foundation (china marker on newsprint)

Kamala Yonzon and her daughter Sunkosi treated me to a beautiful Nepalese dinner at Café Kathmandu last night and we chatted about life and creativity and family.  I am so blessed to connect on a deeper level with these two extraordinary women.

I first connected with Kamala through my dear friend Laura Mack.  I was coordinator at the time at Intersections Media Opportunities for Youth Society.  The participants created a public service announcement for Kamala’s foundation:



The Kamala Yonzon Tahrayli Foundation is a Vancouver, B.C.-based non-profit established to bring flowing water to a remote Nepali village in the Kabre Palanchowk District; Healay Chaubas.

Kamala’s dream to bring water to her village has been in progress since her father’s passing 5 years ago.  Now with the devastating earthquake, the dream has become an urgent quest.  80% of the buildings in Kamala’s village have been ruined and the residents now sleep in the fields.

Photo courtesy of Kamala Yonzon
Photo courtesy of Kamala Yonzon
Photo courtesy of Kamala Yonzon
Photo courtesy of Kamala Yonzon

As the residents begin the difficult task of rebuilding, this is the optimum time to bring in a water pipeline as infrastructure is reevaluated.

My youth programming continues to maintain a connection to the KYT Foundation.

Recall: Caddy’s project with Inside Out Project at Mountainside Secondary.

How you can help:

We have now launched an Indiegogo Life Campaign!

Huge thank you to our supporters so far!

Next goals, besides a social media/awareness push, is a fundraising dinner hosted by Kamala, a re-creation of the distance walked by villagers to get water from the nearest river and interactive art installation and a school-wide celebration.

Help us reach the $5000 goal! ❤️

The Nepalese national flower: rhododendron (chinamarker and acrylic on newsprint)



I am getting ready to hand over my position as program coordinator of Frames Film Project on March 28, 2015 to new blood!  I am off to new horizons including my art career and freelance therapeutic art facilitation (as opposed to coordinating programming).

Come celebrate with me as we honor our Intake 8 grads!  




An incredible group of dedicated youth are in the process of completing public service announcements for:

H.E.L.P. Street Youth

Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 10.15.00 PM

The H.E.L.P. for Street Youth Scholarship Fund offers funds to qualifying youth to attend school (trade, vocational etc.) leading to successful employment.


North Shore Restorative Justice Society- Circles in Schools


Circles in Schools is a strengths-based program that gives our children and youth the skills to transform conflict, heal relationships, and create stronger communities themselves.

We just completed a full weekend of filming and now we head into editing mode!  

Photo by Jeffrey Lyons. “Frames mascot for filming with “Circles in School” a community volunteer group that help at risk youth have a safe place!” (horse owned by Jennifer Chow, who is creating a short film, premiering at the Grad, entitled, “I only draw horses from the left…”












Storyboard by Shauna Chin
Storyboard by Shauna Chin
Storyboard by Shauna Chin



Frames Film Project is a Vancouver-based film production and life skills program that provides opportunities for youth to learn the basics of filmmaking in a supportive, safe and fun environment, at no cost.

Next intake: MAY 2015

Huge thank you to:

my co-faciltators, Kryshan Randel and Jennifer Lyons

our supervisor Shawna Smith and director Gary Dobbin

our volunteer Katie Bennison

our guest speakers

our clients, Cara Sinclair and Lindy Pfeil

our funders

our actor, Elijah Snakeskin


Intake 8 youth:

Christina Capilano

Jennifer Chow

Aleister Gwynne

Jeffrey Lyons

Shauna Chin

Sves Yeung

Nina Vestergaard

Frames Film Project is brought to you by frogsHollowLogoOnTop

Intake 8 is possible through the generous support from:

 Community Safety and Crime Prevention Branch: Ministry of Justice 



Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

Screen shot 2014-11-19 at 1.25.59 PM

North Vancouver teen finds her passion and life purpose through arts-based program

North Vancouver teen finds her passion through arts-based program and launches campaign to raise funds to bring water tank and pipeline to remote village in Nepal:

It is such an honor to be facilitating The Inside Out Project at Mountainside Secondary, North Vancouver, with my colleague Ian Powell.

Recall posts: 




Passion-based learning:

The heart of the Inside Out Project is to awaken the passion within the participants- to encourage the students to own their journey– and to support them as they project-plan and as they enter their futures.  

Can art change the world? Maybe… we should change the question: Can art change people’s lives? – JR

Caddy’s passion:

Caddy Pattison, a Mountainside student who has struggled with school avoidance and her own challenges, awakened to her passion during the Inside Out Project– to make a positive global impact and to create awareness about conditions children and youth experience around the world.


Caddy is specifically inspired to raise awareness about children who need to walk miles for water daily, impeding their ability to attend school.

Serendipitously, when Caddy told me her idea,  I knew of a local/global cause that fits the bill.

The cause:

I connected Caddy with my friend, Kamala Yonzon, of the KYTFOUNDATION.


The Kamala Yonzon Tahrayli Foundation is a Vancouver, B.C.-based non-profit established to bring flowing water to a remote Nepali village in the Kabre Palanchowk District; Healay Chaubas.

Caddy’s mission:

Caddy’s mission is to help Kamala raise the $20,000 needed to build the tank and pipeline for her village. This will open the opportunity for children to attend school, for the building of a local hospital, to create employment etc.

My name is Caddy Pattison and I’m starting my year of empowerment and change by raising awareness for the remote Nepal village in the Kabre Palanchowk District; Healay Chaubas.

This community walks over an hour, several times a day, for a jug of water from the river. That means whenever they want to cook, clean, bathe, or simply get a drink they’re walking miles to do so. It is mostly the children and women of the community that are doing the walking and missing out on an education. With this campaign, I am looking to raise $20,000 for a water pipeline leading from the river to the village. There is also going to be a substantial walk in June to put ourselves in their shoes. Once the pipeline is started, it will create room for employment, education, and empowerment in the community.

We have the advantage in North America of having an endless water supply, free education, and millions of chances for employment. Take a moment to please like and share this page with your family and friends to raise awareness for this good cause. Donations will begin in May, but if you are eager to help, you can donate at . This is a honest, and tangible foundation. 100% of the proceeds will be going to building the pipeline. We are currently looking for sponsors for promotion.

Thank you for taking the time to read and your consideration. – Caddy Pattison

Caddy’s action plan:

Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 6.47.38 PM

Caddy is now in process of achieving this goal.  She has met with Kamala, created a plan of action, a blog, a facebook page.

Caddy meeting with Kamala and Kamala's daughter, Suna.
Caddy meeting with Kamala and Kamala’s daughter, Suna.

Caddy’s blog:

Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 7.04.30 PM

Caddy’s Facebook page:

Screen shot 2015-03-04 at 8.41.49 PM

Caddy has presented to the school district:

Congratulations Caddy Pattison on an incredible presentation on Feb 10, 2015 in front of 150 teachers #SD44 on your #walkforwater project benefitting KYT FOUNDATION  and thank you Parmida Afsahi for documenting the event and to my colleague Ian Powell.
Congratulations Caddy Pattison on an incredible presentation on Feb 10, 2015 in front of 150 teachers #SD44 on your #walkforwater project benefitting KYT FOUNDATION and thank you Parmida Afsahi for documenting the event and to my colleague Ian Powell.

And has presented to the legislature in Victoria:

Sr. MSS student Caddy Pattison at the Victoria Legislature telling her story and experiences at MSS to the Premier and MLA's on this Bully Free Pink Shirt Day!! Caddy spoke eloquently about mental health, finding support at school, and wrap around services.
Sr. MSS student Caddy Pattison at the Victoria Legislature telling her story and experiences at MSS to the Premier and MLA’s on this Bully Free Pink Shirt Day!! Caddy spoke eloquently about mental health, finding support at school, and wrap around services.
Caddy and Mountainside principal, Jeremy Church, on their way to Victoria.
Caddy and Mountainside principal, Jeremy Church, on their way to Victoria.

And Caddy attends school!

Caddy has struggled with school avoidance and lack of engagement.  Mountainside has provided her with the safe haven she needs to heal and develop to her full potential.  And her Walk for Water Nepal project is teaching her life skills and academic skills in a way that has true longevity and positive impact on both Caddy and the community.

So what’s next?

Several events have been planned to lead up to the main fundraising event on Indiegogo Life in May.

Pre-launch events such as:

• Awareness and activty day with Braemar Elementary School

• A North Vancouver walk event

• An instagram hashtag selfie campaign

• A re-creation of the length of the walk and the weight of the water the children in the village have to endure on a daily basis.


So why this one cause, this one girl?

Caddy illustrates the future of educationpassion-based learning.  To truly engage students we must engage their passion and we must share our own.  Profound life skills are organically learned.  The student and teacher, the school and the community at large are profoundly and positively impacted.

When instruction is driven not just by data but by the passions of the students behind the data there is no child left behind scratching their head wondering what they’re going to do with their lives. – Lisa Nielsen

So what can you do to help? 

Caddy’s cause needs $.  That is indeed the goal- for Caddy to present Kamala with a cheque for $20,000 by June 2015.  On one hand, that is alot of $.  But is it?  Not in this internet age.

• So start saving your pennies for the May campaign.

• Stay tuned here for the events mentioned above.

• If you are in the media, interview Caddy.

• If you are on social media: Share Caddy’s story.  Share Kamala’s story.

• If you are inspired by this story, find your own passion.  Share it with us!

Much love and stay tuned!!!

– Katarina

Screen shot 2015-03-04 at 9.49.36 PM
Photo by KYT Foundation




Inside Out: youth empowerment, peer to peer interaction and community connections.

I am so excited to be part of this incredible project inspired by my hero JR:


MOUNTAINSIDE SECONDARY: Inside Out Project: Own Your Journey

Youth-run initiative using the vehicle of portrait photography and street art to learn life and transferable skills while developing self-empowerment, peer to peer interaction and community connections.

THEMES: Connection and Empowerment


Pilot Project: September 30, 2014- October 30, 2014


Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 10.12.04 PM

Mountainside Secondary School (MSS) is the North Vancouver School Districts smallest and newest secondary school, meeting the Ministry of Education requirements for funding as an Alternative School (BCEDAlternate Program Policy).

MSS functions as part of the continuum of social/emotional/behavioural supports that are available to all students at all secondary schools in the NVSD, and targets students in Grades 9-12 (ages 14-19).
MSS aims to allow for varied and alternate pathways to graduation (80 credit or Adult) or School Completion, and beyond.

MSS Core Values

  • Mutual respect
  • Genuine relationships
  • Flexibility
  • Choice
  • Individual accountability
  • Community Connections
Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 4.24.03 PM
TEST SHOOT, INTERSECTIONS MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH SOCIETY, 2013-2014 (including Mountainside students/alumni)

We are proud to be part of the global art initiative INSIDE OUT PROJECT founded by JR:






As mentioned, we are part of a global art initiative founded by French street artist JR, winner of the 2011 Ted Talk Prize.  Our project is called: The Inside Out Project- Own Your Journey.

As they work through the curriculum, the students will be gaining some valuable life and transferable skills.

We use TED TALKS to inspire and to induce dialogue and self-reflection around the theme.

Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 10.03.20 PM
Student journal entry

When you try to be yourself there will be people who will put you down. You grow up looking up to people and not knowing who you are and being told what to do and what not to do. We all deal with pain in different ways- some do it in a sad way. Having to live in a world where judging a person we don’t even know is a good way to make yourself feel better, or even judging a person makes ‘cool.’ But in the end we are all on this earth for a reason ans we should all love ourselves the way we are and respect all of our good qualities and get rid of all the negative, cruelty thoughts. – student journal entry

We are registering our project with JR’s site on Tuesday! And our unique angle is that it is a youth run project and that by addressing their own vulnerability by connecting w people/community through portrait photography, the youth, in turn, empower the subject to feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of the camera!
The project will culminate in a large outdoor installation in the Spring.  A documentary and a behind the scenes short film will also be produced!



Co-facilitator Ian Powell and his dog, Finnegan!






Source: The Music Empowers Foundation
Source: The Music Empowers Foundation