Our team

Team leader

Jessica Ball
F.L. Jessica Ball, M.P.H., Ph.D.
Early Childhood and Youth Care Specialist
Jessica Ball is a professor in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, Canada, and a consultant on a range of research, training, and evaluation projects in the areas of early childhood care and development, early family formation, languages in education, forced migrant youth and the children of transnational labour migrants.

Jessica has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, an M.P.H. in behavioural health, and an M.A. in development psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She has done research, teaching, professional development, and program evaluation projects in universities in North America and Asia, and for organizations such as the Brookings Institute, the Open Society Foundation, the Aga Khan Foundation, BRAC, Save the Children, World Vision, UNICEF, and UNESCO. Dr. Ball spent 11 years, from 1985 to 1996, in Southeast Asia, working with universities, community service agencies, and government ministries on research, teaching, and programs involving mental health, youth health behaviours, and training teachers at all levels of education from post-graduate to preschool. Now living on the west coast of Canada, she consults on projects for the Canadian government and in ASEAN member countries.

Dr. Ball was the director of an innovative, bicultural, post-secondary education program to strengthen Indigenous capacity to design and deliver culturally-based early childhood care and development programs (www.fnpp.org). Jessica was a founding faculty member of the Early Childhood Development Virtual University (www.ecdvu.org) in which she created and taught graduate courses in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. She was a core international lecturer in an M.Sc. program in early childhood care and development at BRAC University in Bangladesh. She is the author or co-author of over 140 journal articles and book chapters, and 3 books.

Project team members: University-based

Onowa McIvor
Onowa McIvor
(M.A., University of Victoria; Ph.D., University of British Columbia)
Onowa is an Assistant Professor and Director of Indigenous Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria. She is Swampy Cree and Scottish-Canadian. She was born and raised in Northern Saskatchewan and has been a grateful visitor on Coast and Straits Salish territories for over 15 years. She completed an M.A. in Child and Youth Care and served for several years as the liaison for First Nations communities that partnered with the School of Child and Youth Care to deliver a two year diploma program in early childhood care and development, called the First Nations Partnerships Program. Onowa completed a PhD in Education at the University of British Columbia in 2012; her dissertation, îkakwiy nihiyawiyân: I am learning [to be] Cree, explored adult Indigenous language learning. Her current areas of research are Indigenous language revitalization and Indigenous education (K-12 & post-secondary), as well as early childhood bilingualism, cultural identity development, and early childhood care and education.
Sharla Peltier
Sharla Peltier, Ph.D.
Sharla is a professor in education at Lakehead University and one of the few Indigenous speech and language therapists in Canada. She is a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Ontario and a member of the Loon Clan. Her work is guided by her belief that Indigenous people have a sacred voice and language from Creator. She promotes empowerment by working with the individual, family, and community to celebrate and enhance these gifts. She is an advocate for broad recognition of First Nations cultural and linguistic differences and for understanding home and community factors in evaluation and intervention aspects of professional practice. Sharla's program of research includes path-finding investigation of First Nations English dialects and First Nations oral tradition through an exploration of Anishinaabe children's and Elders' storytelling and understanding of what makes a good story. Her national and international presentations and publications convey her understandings gained from research and years of professional experience. She offers educator consultation and training to facilitate use of appropriate teaching strategies and educational tools with Indigenous children and families.
Kim Anderson
Kim Anderson, Ph.D.
Kim is an Indigenous (Métis) scholar who has spent most of her career working for Indigenous family well-being in Canada. Most of her scholarship is qualitative, community engaged, interdisciplinary and applied; much of it employs oral history and Indigenous research methodologies. Her research has been primarily about the health and well-being of Indigenous families in Canada and includes publishing in the following areas: Indigenous health and social well-being; gender and Indigenous peoples; Indigenous masculinities; Indigenous feminisms; Indigenous identity; Indigenous youth; Indigenous traditional knowledge; Indigenous environmental knowledge; and urban Indigenous peoples. She employs Indigenous and qualitative methods and is beginning to apply more arts based and land-based methods in research. She has conducted several research projects in collaboration with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres; most recently on projects about Indigenous knowledge transfer in urban communities and gender and life stage factors in urban Indigenous governance.
Harriot Beazley
Harriot Beazley, Ph.D.
Harriot is a cultural geographer specializing in participatory community development and child centred research in the Asia Pacific region. She is a Lecturer in Human Geography and the Discipline Leader in Development Studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her doctoral research involved an analysis of the geographies and identities of street children in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Harriot has worked as a community development practitioners and research consultant in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Vanuatu for AusAID/DFAT, UNICEF, and Save the Children. She has experience in rights-based child centered research with children and young people, and in community based, gender-focused research in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. She has published in the areas of children's geographies and gender and development. Harriot's current research includes participatory research with marginalized communities in Indonesia and Cambodia. She is the Commissioning Editor (Pacific) for the Routledge Journal Children's Geographies: Advancing interdisciplinary understanding of younger people's lives.
Rashin Lamouchi
Rashin Lamouchi, M.A. (Cand)
Rashin Lamouchi is a graduate student in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, BC. She has a BA in Early Childhood Leadership and a diploma in Early Childhood Education from George Brown College, Toronto, ON. Rashin works on the Youth Migration Project within the project area of Forced Migrant Children and Youth. She is examining the impacts of forced migration on young people’s sense of home and belonging. For the past ten years she has worked with families as a teacher, tutor, and researcher, and she has extensive experience in early years practice and pedagogy. Currently, Rashin is the executive director of Antidote: Multiracial and Indigenous Girls and Women’s Network, a grassroots network and community-based organization in Victoria, British Columbia. Rashin grew up in a large family in Iran and has gone on to serve many families across the world as a volunteer, tutor, teacher, and researcher.
Jessica Pratezina
Jessica Pratezina, Ph.D. (Cand)
Jessica Pratezina is a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies (Child and Youth Care; Sociology) at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Her doctoral research considers issues of gender equality, father involvement, and early family formation. She is also one of the few academics globally who specializes in children in cults/ new religious movements. Her SSHRC funded thesis analyzed women’s narratives of leaving new religious movements and suggested how therapeutic and social work professionals might work wisely with people involved in these groups. She has over a decade of experience as a front-line child and youth care practitioner working with vulnerable families and has been honoured to work alongside the Coast Salish nations in British Columbia. She is the recipient of numerous graduate student awards and has published and presented on the topics of children and families involved in new religious movements and the importance of supporting father involvement to increase gender equality in the transition to parenthood.
Karma Chimi Wangchuk
Karma Chimi Wangchuk, M.Ed.
Karma Chimi Wangchuk is a Bhutanese lecturer in the Royal University of Bhutan, Paro College of Education. He was the in-country lead in a national scoping study on demand for early childhood care and development programs and professional development in Bhutan. He is leading a team of lecturers at Paro College of Education in Bhutan to develop post-secondary courses leading to a certificate, diploma and degree in early childhood care and development in order to strengthen the country's capacity to develop this emerging sector. Karma Chimi is a member of the Sharchop ethnic community and grew up in a remote Himalayan village. He has experienced firsthand the importance of learning one's cultural traditions and mother tongue – knowledge and lived experiences that he carries with him today, although he now resides far from his village and cultural centre of origin, in the town of Paro. He is deeply committed to ensuring retention of cultural traditions, Indigenous knowledges, and spirituality through early childhood education as Bhutan modernizes and opens up beyond the Himalayas to the global arena.
Debra Torok
Debra Torok, MSc., PhD (Cand), Psychology
Debra is a doctoral candidate in Clinical-Lifespan Psychology at the University of Victoria, Canada. She has a BA in psychology from Queen’s University, Canada, and her MSc in Clinical Psychology from the University of Victoria. While originally from Toronto, she is grateful to live as an uninvited guest on the traditional and unceded territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples for the past five years. As part of the Youth Migration Project research team, Debra’s research focuses on experiences of forced migrant youth residing in transit in Malaysia and along the Thai-Myanmar border. She has written about how youth in such precarious and oppressive contexts negotiate their sense of identity, belonging, and future aspirations. Currently, she is involved in a partnership project with a migrant-serving agency along the Thai-Myanmar border focused on adapting, delivering, and evaluating the Peer-Mediated Storyboard method (Ball 2020) as an approach to psychosocial support for migrant youth. With the ongoing pandemic, her doctoral research has expanded to explore the benefits, challenges, and ethics of facilitating transnational partnership research online. Outside of her studies, Debra enjoys cooking, hiking, and recently has taken up cross-stitch.
Ron Tsakly George
Ron Tsaskiy George, M.Ed.
Ron served as the lead Indigenous Advisor on the first research study of Indigenous Fathers in Canada, led by Jessica Ball. He also served as a member of the Steering Committee for the first national study of Father Involvement in Canada, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, CURA Program. Ron was born in Smithers, B.C. and was a Hereditary Chief of the Wet'suwet'en Nation. After working in the logging industry, where he became a shop steward in his union, and in the building trades, where he was a glazier, Ron became involved in Indigenous politics. In 1970, he was a Board member of the B.C. Association of Non-Status Indians, and then he was founding Vice-President of its successor, the United Native Nations (UNN), from 1976 to 1978. He was President of UNN from 1985 to 1991. In 1991, he was elected National President of the Native Council of Canada, which represented First Nations people who do not live on reserves. Ron was involved in every aspect of the struggle for justice by Indigenous peoples in Canada. He was instrumental in the development of Indigenous-operated community services in B.C. in areas of housing, child welfare, youth employment, economic development, and justice. A central theme of Ron's work was the need for healing at both the individual and political level in Canadian society. Ron completed a B.S.W. and an M.Ed. at the University of Victoria. Ron passed away in 2021. We continue to hold a special space on our website for remembering Ron.

Project team members: Community-based

Mariam Smith
Mariam Smith, M.Sc.
Mariam specializes in professional education with expertise in multilingual education. Mariam has over 20 years of experience working with civil society organizations and funders in community development, education, rights-based approaches and organizational change. She is co-director of Learning Loop, a consulting firm that helps organizations learn, self-evaluate, and change (www.learningloop.co). Mariam has been involved in many human resource capacity development initiatives and program evaluations for international development organisations, mostly in Asia and Sweden. She uses outcome harvesting as one of her main evaluation tools, while also ensuring that evaluation findings are utilizable. She has published on actor-focused theories of change. Having grown up in Bangladesh and lived in Cambodia for a decade, Mariam is proficient in Khmer, Bunong, Swedish and English and has basic knowledge of Bangla and other languages.
Christine Leo
Christine Leo
Christine is a member of Lil’wat Nation. She has decades of experience as a program manager with non-profit organizations and in Indigenous communities. She served as the Director for Community Advancement for Lil’wat Nation and has worked as an administrator, leader, and consultant with numerous Indigenous-led and Indigenous-serving organizations throughout southwest British Columbia, Canada. She has realized many successes through innovative employment and training programs that have enabled community-driven service development.
Corine Sagmeister
Corine Sagmeister, M.Ed.
Corine is a member of Quatsino First Nation. She is passionate about creating a circle of unity to nurture the spirit of society's most sacred gifts, our children. She has worked with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre as the Director of the Aboriginal Infant Development Program. Her professional experiences also include being Regional Coordinator of Aboriginal Success By 6, Coordinator of Early Childhood Development and Head Start Programs. While completing her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education at the University of Hawaii, she received several awards. Across all her endeavours she focuses on exploring and applying Indigenous knowledge and practice to support young children and their families and to strengthen cultural competency in early year's programming.
Stanley T. Peltier
Stanley T. Peltier, M.Ed.
Stanley Peltier is an Ojibway language teacher and Elder from Wikwemikong First Nation. Accredited by the College of Teachers of Ontario, he has worked for over twenty years as a teacher in First Nations communities. He has travelled nationally and internationally advocating for understanding and retention of the Anishinaabe culture and language. He presented at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education: Aotearoa/ New Zealand in 2005, Australia in 2008, and Hawaii in 2014. He participated in the World HIV/AIDS Conference in 2010 and 2012. He consulted on the Ontario Ministry of Education Revision process for the Ontario Curriculum in Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Languages. He is proficient in Ojibway and uses Anishinaabe epistemology and methodology to enhance Anishinaabemowin teaching methods. He is a professional facilitator. He is renowned internationally as a maker of traditional tipis and healing lodges.
Pattinee Suanprasert
Pattinee Suanprasert BSc., MPH.
Pattinee (Pi Pat) has been Director of Suwannimit Foundation based in Mae Sot, Thailand since the foundation was created in 2010. Before working with Suwannimit Foundation, Pi Pat served in various international and national organizations, non-government organizations, and community-based organizations supporting migrants, displaced people and refugees inside and outside refugee camps. She has provided and overseen services in the areas of health, education and social protection on the Thailand / Cambodia and Thailand / Myanmar borders. Pi Pat holds a Master of Public Health degree in Health Systems Development from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Her passion is to strengthen the capacities of underprivileged and vulnerable people to improve their wellbeing and quality of life.
M. Htang Dim
M. Htang Dim (Angela) M. A. MSc.
Angela is a lecturer at Chiang Mai University, Department of English, in Thailand. She completed an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. She has worked as an English teacher for migrant and refugee youth and provided teacher training and parenting education for migrant-serving organizations and schools. She has played many roles in the early childhood sector in the Chiang Mai area and the Thai-Myanmar border area. Her research and service work focuses on children and families living in the Thai-Myanmar border area, including those living in refugee camps, displaced youth of transnational labour migrants, and conflict migrants. Angela often works with international organization, government service agencies, and community leaders to strengthen capacity to serve migrant and refugee children and families and to advocate for improved, comprehensive policies to support people in vulnerable situations. She feels it is an honor to work students, local partners and actors at various levels of government. She is completing a second master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Assumption University (ABAC) in Bangkok. She has two sons and currently lives with her family in Chiang Mai.
Spring Song
Spring Song, B.A.
Spring is a Project Officer for the Suwannimit Foundation in Mae Sot, Thailand. She works with Community-Based Organizations to promote gender equality and child protection. She provides support to organizations that address situations involving gender-based violence and child abuse.
Nay Tha
Saw Poe Khwer Lay (Nay Tha)
I live in the Thailand-Myanmar border community. I was forced to migrate from Myanmar to Thailand when I was 12 years old, as a result of civil war that happened in my hometown. Arriving in Thailand without my family, I grew up in a dormitory for migrant youth, and I completed high school in a migrant school. I completed a Graduate Education Diploma in Chaing Mai, Thailand, and then completed post-secondary studies, majoring in education and psychology, at Asia Pacific International University. Currently I work with Suwannimit Foundation where I am a health program specialist. I deliver sexuality education workshops for migrant adolescents. I have also delivered Peer Mediated Story Board Narrative workshops with migrant youth, and have been amazed to help young people understand their rights and explore their quality of life and future opportunities. The StoryBoard method helps to show migrant young people that in life, we may face many difficulties, and in reflecting on our difficulties we can find strengths and opportunities.

Community partners

Suwannimit Foundation
Partnered with ECDIP on research to understand the views and experiences for forced migrant youth, Suwannimit Foundation is a migrant-led, migrant-serving non-profit organization based in Mae Sot, Thailand. Its mission is to enhance social and health services to vulnerable children and families living along the borders of Thailand (Tak province) and Myanmar. It supports the operational capacity and programming impact of its partners and promotes access to services provided by the government of Thailand. www.suwannimit.org
Families Canada
Partnered with ECDIP on research to promote gender equality in early family formation, Families Canada works to strengthen families and communities. The organization delivers education, training and tools to empower their network of family support organizations and frontline workers. Families Canada works with government, corporations, institutions, and family advocates to implement smart, family-friendly policies that enable Canada’s families to live strong and productive lives. www.familiescanada.ca
Dad Central
Dad Central has assisted ECDIP team members for two decades to mobilize knowledge and resources focused on positive father involvement. Dad Central is a national network of researchers, practitioners, leaders, community members and supporters who believe there is an urgent need to promote the positive involvement of fathers in their children’s lives. Dad Central functions as the national clearinghouse in Canada for resources and information about workshops, webinars, and training to support positive father involvement. For more than 20 years, Dad Central has helped organizations, such as family support centres, childcare programs, community health units, and pre-post natal programs, to prepare and engage men in becoming positively involved fathers. www.dadcentral.ca
Yangon University of Education
Located in Yangon, Myanmar, this is the premier university of education in Myanmar. Primarily a teacher training college, the university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs in education to the country’s prospective primary, secondary, and tertiary level teachers. It also produces research on child development and pedagogy. It established the first post-graduate diploma program in early childhood care and development to strengthen leadership capacity for the emerging early childhood sector in Myanmar. www.yuoe.edu.mm
Lil'wat Nation
Partnered on a number of ECDIP projects addressing First Nations children’s development and community capacity building, Lil’wat Nation is group of communities situated in south-western BC about one hour from the urban centre of Vancouver. The communities share a band-operated school offering Kindergarten through Grade 12 and many other services. Together, they have established a well-developed planning structure, stable leadership, and a long history of successful development initiatives. Exemplifying a fully integrated and co-located multiservice centre, the community has a multiplex facility that houses a community kitchen, a health information and promotion area, health services offices with examination rooms, and multi-purpose rooms offering a range of family services, including alcohol and drug counselling, tobacco reduction, diabetes prevention, infant and toddler care, preschool and after-school care and parenting programs. www.lilwat.ca