The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), founded in 1918, is one of the oldest voluntary organizations in Canada. Each year, we provide direct service to more than 100,000 Canadians through the combined efforts of more than 10,000 volunteers and staff across Canada in over 120 communities.
As a nation-wide, voluntary organization, the Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness. The CMHA accomplishes this mission through advocacy, education, research and service.
CMHA branches across Canada provide a wide range of innovative services and supports to people who are experiencing mental illness and their families. These services are tailored to the needs and resources of the communities where they are based. One of the core goals of these services is to help people with mental illness develop the personal tools to lead meaningful and productive lives.
CMHA-Yukon Board of Directors
Thaidra is a volunteer Board Member with CMHA-YT. She supports the provision of mental health service availability in the Yukon, through her work with the organization. Outside of CMHA, Thaidra works as a certified project management professional (PMP). She believes in mental healthcare parity, promoting socially supportive communities and working to provide the resources needed for individuals to maintain resilience in the face of adversity. In her free time, Thaidra enjoys trail running, mountain biking, reading, travel, spending time with her two dogs and turning everyday life into a comedy routine.
Rachelle is originally from Bracebridge, Ontario, and has lived in the Yukon for approximately three years. Rachelle’s pronouns are she/her and she respectfully acknowledges that she lives and works on the traditional territories of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. Her educational background is primarily focused on Indigenous rights and public policy. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in Conflict Studies and Human Rights from the University of Ottawa, and a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration from Carleton University. She currently works as an analyst with the Government of Yukon. Rachelle is passionate about mental health and wellness, drawing from her own experience with mental illness as well as the stories and experiences of others. She is particularly interested in the development of peer support networks for persons with lived experience. In addition to her involvement with CMHA-YT, Rachelle is also a member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Youth Council.
Stephanie has resided in Whitehorse for five years now with almost four of those years spent on the CMHA-YT Board of Directors. Growing and learning through her own direct lived experience with mental illness has only brought her closer to this community and left her wanting to do more to help others with the daily struggles of existing in this realm. Reducing stigma, promoting meaningful conversations around mental health and advocating for accessible and equal rights to both physical and mental health care for every single person in need is where she strives to create change.
Michelle has a bachelor and master of social work and has worked front line at Child Abuse Treatment Services, Mental Health Services, Residential Youth Services, Yukon Family Services Association, Many Rivers and Victim Services. Many of her jobs have included itinerant travel and she has worked in 10 of 14 Yukon Communities. Michelle has a 20-year-old stepson and a 5-year-old son. She celebrated her 20th Yukon anniversary in 2020.
Fiona works as a public servant by day and is an avid volunteer and musician by night. She dedicates her time to helping others and is grateful to be working with such a hard-working, dedicated board on all things related to mental health and wellness. Fiona has been on the CMHA-YT Board of Directors for three years. She also sits on the Board of Directors for Yukon Cares – a non-profit organization aiding in the global refugee crisis through sponsorship and resettlement of refugees – as well as on the Paradise Music Society Board. When not working or volunteering, you can find her walking her dogs on one of the many great trails in and around Whitehorse, Yukon, or playing and making music. Her favourite quote is “The measure of love, is love without measure”.
Kelly has been living, learning and playing within the Yukon for 3.5 years and resides in Whitehorse within the beautiful traditional territories of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. Kelly’s experiences and work have taken her around the globe and she feels grateful for all the opportunities to have learnt and shared with so many individuals. Currently, Kelly is working as an environmental scientist. From her own lived experience, Kelly brings a passion for mental health and wellness.
Tiffanie Tasane, Executive Director
Tiffanie’s classic Yukon story includes visiting the territory one summer many moons ago and never leaving. A Trent University graduate in English and Women’s Studies, her previous work experience includes Family Education, working with victims of violence and kitchen design. She was drawn to work with CMHA-YT fueled by her passion to achieve parity between mental health and physical health. Other passions include cooking (and eating!), gardening and literature.
Dr. Kayleigh Abbott, Ph.D., MSW
Kayleigh is passionate about creating welcoming spaces where people feel comfortable and safe. She understands that people from all walks of life experience obstacles throughout their journey and is passionate in collaborating with clients on their road to healing. She draws upon her training in psychology and social work and blends these approaches to guide her clients towards living their best lives.
She has worked with adolescents and adults in various capacities and enjoys the privilege of being privy to human strength and resiliency. Kayleigh employs a casual, personal and professional approach from an intersectional framework, drawing upon techniques from various theoretical orientations in her counselling.
In her spare time, Kayleigh enjoys taking her pup for walks, learning as much as humanly possible and planning and conquering her next adventure in Mother Nature!
Hailey Birnie, MACP, AAC
Hailey is a certified counsellor and, as a generalist counsellor, she works with youth, adults, couples and families.
She was born and raised in the Yukon and, after spending a number of years down south, she returned to the Yukon in 2017. Hailey has enjoyed working in Hollywood, in the film and television industry, and spending time outdoors on personal expeditions and supporting groups and youth.
Hailey enjoys working with a variety of populations and her areas of interest include trauma, addictions, sexual assault, grief, loss, self-harm, abuse, life transitions, separation/divorce, therapeutic recreation activity, wilderness therapy, physical health and wellness, and work place and family issues.
Geneviève (Gen) Gagnon, BFA, DKATI
Gen is a Professional Art Therapist whose clinical practice is rooted in building a trusting and collaborative working relationship with clients. She applies a systems perspective to the therapeutic process, valuing the holistic nature of people’s struggles and wellbeing. She uses an eclectic theoretical framework to meet the various needs of individuals, pulling from humanistic and existential philosophies, harm reduction principles, narrative therapy, cognitive behavioural strategies, dream work, ecotherapy and mindfulness techniques. Gen works with youth and adults experiencing challenges in the areas of grief and loss, substance use, relationships, mood and anxiety disorders, trauma and PTSD, and workplace stress. Gen offers services in both French and English. She has lived in the Yukon since 2011 and spends her free time exploring the outdoors with friends, family and her canine sidekick, facilitating community art initiatives and experimenting with new culinary creations.
Kelly Giesbrecht, M.Ed, RP, CCC
Kelly is a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and a Canadian Certified Counsellor. She has a Masters in Education in Educational Counselling and a Professional Certificate (Level 1) in Couple and Family Therapy. She enjoys using a narrative and family systems approach. She specializes in couples and family counselling and in individual counselling with adolescents and adults in the areas of bereavement, communication, relationships, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, stress, suicide, self-esteem, and mindfulness.
Becky Hill, Intake Worker/Family Program Coordinator
Becky has lived in the Yukon for 3 years. She holds two advanced diplomas, one in Behavioural Science Technology and one in Addictions and Community Outreach. Her previous work experiences involved working with vulnerable populations. She has worked with youth in schools, outreach support, homeless shelters, correctional centre and homecare provider.
Tanya Kutschera, Generalist Counsellor
Tanya is a Certified Counsellor who brings her 20-years of experience as a teacher and facilitator in Canada, US, India and Costa Rica. She has worked as a Waldorf teacher and studied art and movement therapy. Tanya is also certified as a Chopra Center Ayurvedic Health Instructor and meditation teacher.
Tanya believes that counselling is a collaborative partnership based on trust, respect and equality. Her priorities as a counsellor are to support and effect healthy change in the life of her clients. She does this by providing a non-judgemental, safe space conducive to client’s self-exploration of feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Tanya’s integrated therapy approach is person-centered, holistic and goal oriented, focusing on client strengths and supporting the empowerment of the client to work towards their desired goals. Tanya uses a variety of modalities that incorporate talk therapy, journaling, mindfulness, meditation, visualization and art (when appropriate) as tools for accessing self-awareness, understanding and insight.
Bonnie has dedicated her adult life to supporting individuals and families in building and nurturing relationships as the very foundation of all mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. The experience derived from a 30-year career in Social Services supporting Yukon families and 26 years as a yoga/meditation teacher has offered the skills for Bonnie to facilitate groups throughout North America in the fields of mental health, social services and mindfulness. Her work with CMHA-YT focuses on psychological health and safety in the workplace with the core belief that relationship building and self-awareness are at the essence of our well-being.
She knows “we can’t stop the waves, but we can learn to surf” and is dedicated to supporting herself and others in living with our eyes open and our hearts well-tended.
Dr. Christine McKee, Ph.D., MAPS, BCST
Christine is a registered psychologist (Australia) with diverse experience in private practice as well as psychology consulting to the private sector in Australia, USA and UK. She has proven to be a versatile, dynamic and intuitive psychologist, trainer/facilitator, coach and leadership development executive to clients spanning private and corporate sectors. Christine loves facilitation, public speaking and coaching and has fifteen years’ experience in developing and delivering bespoke education programs, including e-learning platforms for a wide range of industries. She has a passion for creating environments for individuals, teams and businesses to think, engage, communicate, adapt and maximise their potential. Her approach is focused, flexible, self-motivated and team-oriented.
Key areas of therapeutic interest include attachment, trauma, depression, anxiety, stress management, narcissism, addictions, communication skills, conflict resolution, mindfulness, conscious parenting and pre-and perinatal therapy. When working with individuals and teams within workplaces (either one-on-one or in groups), areas of focus include negotiation skills, strategic alignment, culture change, maximizing potential, communication skills, understanding personality differences, time management, facilitation skills, building accountability and role-person fit.
Shari is a Canadian Certified Counsellor and has been involved in several aspects of mental health care services including prevention, education, research, leadership, and clinical practice.
She specializes in individual and group therapy with youth, adults and families. Areas of clinical expertise include addictions treatment, concurrent disorders, Emotion Focused Therapy, CBT for anxiety and depression, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness, and counselling for Indigenous populations. Shari has experience helping people through life transitions, communication and relationship problems, grief and loss, parenting challenges, post-traumatic stress, low self-esteem, self-injury, sexuality issues, stress, suicidal ideation, and the affects of trauma.
Born and raised in Alberta she later moved to BC and went to school at the University of Northern British Columbia to complete a B.A. in First Nations Studies and an M.Ed. in Educational Counselling. Shari has Scottish heritage, two children, and has spent lots of time participating in and studying Aboriginal culture and history.
Shari loves having time to play, dance, cook, hike, craft, ski, skate, yoga, paddle board, read, go on adventures, and visit with friends and family. She is especially good at lying on a beach under the hot sun. She regularly travels between Yukon, BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan and her first Yukon employer was Diamond Tooth Gerties in 1995. In 2019 Shari moved to Yukon permanently and is happy to be part of the CMHA team as a Generalist Counsellor.
Jessica Williams, MACP, CCC
Jessica is a born and raised Yukoner and finds that growing up here gives her some lived experience and understanding of social structures in the territory. Jessica completed her Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology in spring of 2018, gained CCC status in 2019 and has worked with multiple agencies, in multiple roles, throughout Whitehorse in her journey to becoming a counsellor at CMHA-YT. She describes her counselling style as centered around the whole person including their strengths, their social and environmental context and the work they’ve already done prior to coming through the door to seek counselling supports. Jessica describes herself as a generalist counsellor as she doesn’t have a specialized focus in her work and loves to navigate what counselling might look like based on whomever the client is at that moment.