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About our project

This training has been developed in collaboration by George Brown College, Ryerson University, Covenant House Toronto, and the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care (OACYC). Through the course of a 3-year research project, we have pursued the development, application, and evaluation of a framework for:

  1.  the early identification of youths involved in human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation (HTSE)
  2. effective support for youths involved in, and at risk of HTSE, through the development and dissemination of training tools for Child and Youth Care Practitioners (CYCP).

The research team has conducted the following applied research activities in collaboration with community partners:

  • Assessed the current capacity of CYCP to identify and support trafficked youth
  • Enhanced CYCP capacity to provide effective HTSE services in rural, urban and northern communities in Ontario
  • Developed a framework for effective practices appropriate to agencies serving youth

We are now:

  • Piloting the developed training tools and evaluating their efficacy
  • Transferring the knowledge gained and training developed to current practitioners, recent graduates and agency leaders in Ontario

Meet the Team

Melissa Teles

Melissa Teles (she/her) is a settler in Canada currently working in Tkaronto/Toronto (Dish with One Spoon Territory). She has worked in the child and youth sector for nearly 20 years as a practitioner, supervisor, faculty member in the Child and Youth Care program at George Brown College and a contract lecturer at Ryerson University.  Her institutional education includes a Master of Arts and she is currently completing her PhD at the University of Toronto in Higher Education and Sexual Diversity Studies. Melissa attributes her most significant learning to her lived experiences, social identities, and the connections and relationships she feels so privileged to hold. She lives in Burlington with her partner, two kids – Tiego & Matias, and their dog, Rocky. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family,  listening to music, reading, listening to all of the true crime podcasts, and spending time in nature.

Dr. Zeenat Janmohamed

Dr. Zeenat Janmohamed is the Academic Chair of the School of Social and Community Services and the School of Deaf and Deafblind Studies at George Brown College.  As the Chair, she is responsible for the academic oversight of eight programs with over 1400 students and almost 100 faculty members.  She is committed to working collaboratively will all members of the college community and has established strong working relationships with various departments that support students and faculty.  Zeenat has a long history in partnership development with government, community organizations and post-secondary institutions.  She has held faculty positions in School of Early Childhood at George Brown College, Ryerson University in the School of Early Childhood Studies and at the Eric Jackman Institute of Child Studies at the University of Toronto.  Zeenat has supported the evaluation of programs across Canada and globally. 

She currently holds a Visiting Scholar position at the Atkinson Centre, University of Toronto.  Dr. Janmohamed is the Principal Investigator of the Early Childhood Cognitive Sensitivity Training Study in collaboration with researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Calgary.  She is a co-investigator on a research project examining human trafficking in collaboration with Ryerson University.   Dr. Janmohamed completed her PhD. in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE, University of Toronto. 

Yasmine El-Hamamsy

Yasmine El-Hamamsy (she/her) is settler, activist, and educator currently residing in Tkaronto. Yasmine has been working in anti-oppressive community programming focused on centering those impacted by harm, healing, non-disposability, and collective care for five years and counting. The core of Yasmine’s knowledge and experience comes from her time with the Anti-Violence Project, based in Victoria on unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations. In her institutional education, Yasmine has a Masters in Adult Education and Community Development from the University of Toronto. She currently works as a researcher and content creator for George Brown College. In her other projects, Yasmine is dedicated to urban food security and human rights advocacy with the St. James Town Community Co-op and explores questions of justice and accountability through science fiction story-telling as an illustrator, writer, and editor in an ongoing collaborative zine project.

Emily Forward

Emily enjoys DIY projects, learning new skills, and spending time with friends and family throughout Ontario and Nova Scotia. 

Emily Forward is an honours Graduate of the Child and Youth Care Advanced Diploma program at George Brown College. She was a Student Researcher on this project, assisting and coordinating in a variety of capacities. She brought with her years of experience in the Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation sector, and received the Les Webber- Founding President’s Award for Child and Youth Counsellor Education upon graduating. Today, Emily works with youth and young adults who face barriers to employment due to mental health challenges and involvement in the criminal justice system. Her work is centered around an understanding of personal and systemic factors, an ecological perspective, and a trauma informed approach. Emily remains passionate about Human Rights, anti-oppression, and adequate public education that supports both survivors of Human Trafficking and Sex Workers.

Sachie Chavez-Pimentel

Sachie Chavez Pimentel is a Child and Youth Counsellor at Markham-Stouffville Hospital. She graduated with honours standing in April, 2019 from the Child and Youth Care program at George Brown College. Since graduating, Sachie has worked with children and youth who struggle with mental health disorders in a day treatment setting at York Hills Centre for Children, Youth and Families and in clinical programs at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and, most recently, Markham-Stouffville Hospital. At George Brown, Sachie was a student researcher in the project “Supporting Young People: A Response to Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Ontario.”

Sachie obtained her Bachelor of Arts in General Psychology at the University of Havana, Cuba in July, 2013. While there, she was a peer leader, a member of the gymnastics team, performed in the faculty choir, and was a member of the university’s Biennial Psychology Conference organizing committee. With her success in in academic performance and participation in extracurricular activities, Sachie graduated with honours standing.

In her spare time, Sachie enjoys spending time with her husband and family, practicing yoga, and watching movies and documentaries. She is also a lover of photography and hopes to one day pursue that passion, too.

Heather Finch

Heather Finch has ten years of experience teaching youth and adults in schools, colleges, and community service agencies. She has worked as part of several research teams over the past seven years on both quantitative and qualitative projects. Heather served as research assistant to multiple early learning projects. She has created data collection and coding protocols and gathered data via interview, play-based tasks, and observation of learning environments. As the coordinator of research project at the Hospital for Sick Children, Ryerson University, and George Brown College, she developed fidelity instruments; conducted key informant interviews and focus groups; hired, trained, and supervised research assistants, and managed both timelines and budgets. In all of her research work, she has played a key role in data analysis and report writing. Heather is currently Field Placement Coordinator and Professor in the Social Service Worker Program at George Brown College.

Jill D’Angelo Scott

Jill D’Angelo Scott is a graduate of George Brown College’s Assaulted Women and Children Counsellor/Advocate program with lived experience in the sex industry. Since 2017, she has been a youth worker at a transitional home in downtown Toronto, serving young women with experiences of gender based violence in the forms of sexual exploitation, forced marriage, and genital mutilation. Jill has also worked on the research, planning, and development of the Junction Triangle’s newly opened George Chuvalo Neighbourhood Centre in partnership with the Christie-Ossington Neighbourhood Centre and spent a summer placement at Jessie’s – The June Callwood Centre for Young Women, a resource for young women who are pregnant, parenting, or deciding. She plans to continue working with women with experiences of exploitation and further develop her skills with more training in feminist counselling.

Support Youth is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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