Contributing Members and Space Holders

Shannon Dames RN, MPH, EdD Founder of Root to Thrive, Director of Research and Development
Phil Dames Director of RTT-KaT Operations
Pam Kryskow, MD Lead Ketamine-Assisted Therapy MD EFT Trainer

Dr. Shannon spearheaded the development of theoretical framework for Roots to Thrive.  She serves at Vancouver Island University as a nursing professor and resilience researcher. As a byproduct of her doctoral work, which focused on the core factors that promote human flourishing, and as a Health Professional Investigator for the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Dr. Dames is now spearheading the ongoing development and research components of Roots to Thrive (RTT) combined with medicine-assisted therapy.

Phil comes to the team with a focus on developing the structure to guide and inform the operations of the program. Phil has a long history of working with families and corporations, managing nearly every facet of their financial wellbeing. Phil’s passion surrounds men’s health and the cultivation of environments that promote emotional awareness and expression. Phil developed the Roots to Thrive virtual program, which is currently is being used for RTT and RTT-KAT.

Dr. Pamela Kryskow comes to the team with a wealth of experience in conventional medicine augmented by her knowledge and research of psychedelic-assisted therapies and microdosing, placing her at the forefront of this new, rapidly emerging paradigm. She works as a clinical instructor in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Specializing in alleviating the complex modality of pain, she successfully synthesizes her training in family, rural, emergency, pain, counselling and functional medicine.

Andrea Lemp, RN: Intake team, Functional Medicine Lead

Crosbie Watler, MD, Psychiatrist: Intake Lead, Medical Director

Helen Watler: Somatic Energy Modalities

Andrea has been leading health and wellness programs, serving British Columbians in Vancouver, and Vancouver Island for over 30 years. A specialist in Community and Hospital Mental Health and Addictions, Andrea has practised and led in diverse Specialty Hospital and Community settings, including Forensic Psychiatry, UBC Hospital, and Vancouver Coastal Health. Moving to Vancouver Island in 1995, developing and managing Community, Tertiary, and Hospital Mental Health and Addiction Systems for Island Health. She is a graduate of BCIT’s Psychiatric Nursing and Registered Nursing Programs, and a graduate of UBC’s Bachelor and Master of Science in Nursing Programs.
Andrea concluded her 30 year hospital and community career, shifting from the limits of conventional psychiatry, she now supports individuals, groups, and leaders to recover their full health, and unlock their true potential in body, mind and spirit. Addressing the root cause of disease, this approach represents the new field of Functional Medicine.

Dr. Crosbie Watler is the lead psychiatrist for the RTT-KAT team and an emerging thought leader, forging new pathways to alleviate suffering related to mental distress. He completed his MA in Psychology at Lakehead University, before going to Medical School at McMaster in 1988. Following medical school, Dr. Watler completed his residency in psychiatry at Dalhousie University. Upon completion he worked in Kenora, Ontario from 1995-2001, where he was Chief of Psychiatry at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital. In 2001 Dr. Walter relocated to Duncan BC with his wife and their three children, working within Island Health and served as Medical Director and the Department Head for Psychiatry. Dr. Watler has practised in multiple settings including, tertiary, inpatient, outpatient and ACT. Dr. Watler’s current interests focus on incorporating the best of modern medicine with holistic/integrative health.

Helen comes to the team with a background in integrative health delivery. She earned advanced certifications in Eden Energy Medicine and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Her work heightens awareness at the level of body-mind, supporting the innate capacity for healing. Helen is playing a lead role on the patient intake team, providing expertise in the area of cognitive somatic energy modalities.

Marnie Roper: Lead in Cultural and Spiritual Health

Dr. Zhiish McKenzie: RTT-KAT physician

Geraldine Manson: Lead Elder

Marnie comes to the team with an extensive history as a change agent in spiritual, cultural, and mental health. She now works as a Spiritual Health Practitioner with the local health authority and serves as a Roots to Thrive and Ketamine-assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) facilitator.

Dr. Zhiish McKenzie is Family Physician.  She Anishnabai from Northern Ontario and a member of the Temagami First Nation.  She works as a Clinical Instructor & Indigenous Portfolio Co-Director at the Faculty of Medicine at UBC.  Zhiish was introduced to Roots to Thrive as a patient participant. She is especially interested in and connected to the Spiritual healing of this work.  “We are all just walking each other home.” Ram Dass

In my role as a VIU Elder-in-Residence, I work directly with students and Faculty/Professors in Health and Human Services programs at VIU and the Shq’apthut/Gathering Place. I share my Traditional Knowledge to work with all programs within the Health & Human Services and within the Shq’apthut programs. I am a member of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and I am married to Earl Manson. I have worked for my community since 1980 and I must credit my cultural wisdom and education to my Elders, present, and Elders who have passed on. As the Elders’ Coordinator for Snuneymuxw First Nations, I carry many other responsibilities that relate to culture and traditions in the community. I served 12 years as an elected council-member and I continue to be mentored in the traditional cultural practices of the Snuneymuxw people. I am excited to be part of this journey, working with medicines that can provide healing for those who continue to suffer, despite trying traditional treatment methods.

Gail Peekeekoot, MN, DMin, RN(c): Lead Medicine-Assisted Therapy RN
Elizabeth Plant, BA, MD, CCFP (AM) dISAM – RTT-KAT Physician
Kate Wilton: Participant Navigator, Set and Setting Lead

Gail brings nearly 50 years of extensive nursing experience. Much of her career has been with Indigenous people and communities and currently is working with First Nations Health Authority. Gail promotes awareness of the physical, mental and spiritual health issues associated with past traumas that have gone unaddressed and brings a plethora of experience in helping people move beyond the trauma and to develop a new relationship with themselves. Gail is honoured to join the Roots to Thrive team with a special focus on provision of ketamine assisted therapy as an adjunct to the wrap around program addressing PTSD in health care workers.

Dr. Elizabeth Plant is an addiction medicine physician who also trained as a family doctor, at both the BC Centre on Substance Use and UBC. Currently, my roles include the Cowichan District Hospital Addiction Medicine Consult Service (AMCS), AMCS Community and outreach at the overdose prevention site. Elizabeth has a lifetime of interest in how substances impact the human experience, for good or for ill. While some substances can narrow the mental experience into craving, compulsion and loss of control, other substances can expand the mind, render it more flexible and responsive.

I am privileged to work with Roots to Thrive, first as a participant and then as a collaborator.

This program is an innovative space where shifting and expanding the mental experience can be cultivated. The potential in treating addictions, and other mental disorders, is profound.

Kate comes to the Roots to Thrive team with expertise in nursing, yoga instruction, and community programming facilitation. She now works with Ladysmith Family and Friends, as a Yoga instructor, and as a Roots to Thrive virtual facilitator.

Wes Taylor: Lead Facilitator, Quality Improvement Lead

Julia Sheffield, MBA, BSN, Facilitator, Program Nurse

Jo Hall, RN, MSN: Facilitator, Program Nurse

Wes partners with others to transform lives, relationships, and organizations. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, he worked as a therapist in addiction and trauma recovery in the US and Australia. The next decade was focused on providing advanced Nonviolent Communication SM (NVC) seminars for consultants, mediators, and trainers in N. America and Europe. Since 2007, Wes has been bringing together best practices from Psychotherapy, Integral Theory, Restorative Justice, Coaching, Change Management, NVC, and more to his work of Organizational Development in healthcare, most recently with Island Health and First Nations Health Authority.

Julia comes to the Roots to Thrive team with over 15 years experience in crisis mental health nursing. Areas of expertise include post-partum mental health and somatic healing modalities.  Informed by the connection of body, mind and spirit Julia strives to develop embodied connection with people while supporting our innate ability heal. Julia is honoured to be a part of the Roots to Thrive community serving others who seek alternatives to mainstream treatment

Jo comes to the Roots to Thrive team with a nursing background in palliative, psychiatric, medical and minor-surgical patient care. Years of disrupted mental health inspired her to seek healing in a variety of alternative treatments. This lived experience informs her deeply compassionate approach and ability to create healing connection with others who struggle. Having been a participant in the first RTT-KAT group, she has found deep resonance with the principles, practices, and processes of Roots to Thrive. She is incredibly honoured and excited to pass the gifts forward.

Todd Haspect, RCC, M.Ed. Facilitator, Lead Counsellor and Island Health Liaison
Margaret Huml, RN, Facilitator, Program Nurse: Open heart space, space holder, compassion warrior, co-healer, whole as I am
Ruth Dantzer: Facilitator

Todd is the Lead Counsellor & Island Health Liaison with the RTT-KAT team. He entered the field of mental health and substance use as a peer support worker in 1998. After completing his BA CYC at the University of Victoria in 2006, he began his work as a counsellor with Island Health. At this time, his learning was focused on Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Client Directed Outcome Informed Practice (CDOI). Todd quickly recognized the prevalence of the impacts of trauma on the people he served. The pursuit of learning how to understand and work with impacts of trauma led to graduate studies at UVIC. While completing an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology, Todd focused Somatic Experiencing (SI).  During his time as a counselor with Island Health, he worked to integrate experiential therapies, including pet therapy and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In 2015, Todd transitioned into a role as a Clinical Educator with Island Health Mental Health and Substance Use services (MHSU). This role focused on facilitating Trauma Informed Practice (TIP), Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), and shifting Core Addictions Practice (CAP) to Responses to Substance Use. As of mid 2020, Todd’s primary role with Island Health is as a Change Management Consultant, with a focus on improving MHSU services through supporting staff health and wellness. Joining the Roots to Thrive Team and experiencing RTT-KAT as a patient participant has inspired Todd to return to a clinical counselling role.

Whole in her imperfections, Margaret was guided to the Roots to Thrive program during her struggle with deep burnout, compassion fatigue and spiritual depletion. In her roles as mother, Registered Nurse and Professor she has refined her skills as facilitator, humanist and space holder. Through her evolving healing journey she is reawakening her gifts, stepping into the co-creation of soul filling, heart filling connected spaces. Margaret acknowledges her wholeness and is fuelled by a deep desire to gently awaken the seeds of wholeness in others.

Ruth comes to the Roots to Thrive team with a history as a Spiritual Care Practitioner in healthcare settings including a trauma hospital, an addiction treatment centre, and hospice. Currently, Ruth works at the Multifaith Centre at the University of Victoria as a Spiritual Care Coordinator for Student Wellness and the Anglican Spiritual Care Provider. She is an ordained priest in the Anglican tradition. As a yoga teacher, certified spiritual director and meditation instructor, Ruth has experience leading retreats and wilderness solos. With degrees in Religious Studies, Ecopsychology, and Social Justice, she brings a unique lens of spirituality, environmental awareness, and social action into her work. She has training in Non-Violent Communication and has facilitated Restorative Justice circles. Ruth is committed to walking with people in authentic journeys of self-realization and growth.

Krys Sciberras, RCC: Facilitator, Clinical Counsellor
Brittany Boyer, M.Ed., C.C.C: Co-Facilitator
Laura McLean, MD, FRCPC (she/her): Co-facilitator

Krys comes to RTT with 25 years of experience in Mental Health and Substance Use in public health care settings and private practice. She has had the privilege of living on the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations for the past 16 years; and has been working with Island Health in various roles since 2010 across Vancouver Island. As a Registered Clinical Counsellor, Krys’s true passion outside of her day job with the health authority; is to support individuals to uncover their true essence through mindfulness self-compassion, and a solution-focused approach as she walks alongside those on their journey to self-discovery.

Brittany identifies as an uninvited white settler, and currently resides on traditional Coast Salish territory on Vancouver Island. She has mixed Northern European ancestry (Primarily Irish, Scottish, and Welsh on her father’s side, and Welsh, English, Irish and mixed Scandinavian on her mother’s side). After a transformative experience as a participant in the previous cohort, Brittany is delighted to join Roots to Thrive as a mentee/co-facilitator. She joins Roots to Thrive with a background in counselling, mental health, and addictions. Experiencing the limitations of conventional approaches, she has gradually felt pulled in other directions. This led to a lot of learning and un-learning… a recognition that the conventional approach is a way, but it is not the only way, toward healing, health, and wellness. She finds fulfillment in conversations about psychedelic-assisted therapies, somatic approaches to healing, and decolonial approaches to mental health and wellness. Brittany has immense gratitude for the work of Dr. Jennifer Mullan, Dr. Karlee Fellner, Dr. Eduardo Duran, and for the Indigenous communities she has, and continues to serve. Learning from each has been incredibly valuable, validating and has shaped her understanding of what decolonization means, and what it does not, in mental health.

Laura is a settler of European descent who is uncomfortable but grateful to live as an uninvited guest on Vancouver Island on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Stz’uminus and W̱SÁNEĆ nations, to whom she offers respect and honour.  Laura’s medical background is in respirology and critical care, and subsequently, sleep medicine which became her primary focus, and which has led her to also pursue training in lifestyle medicine.  Laura’s life changed suddenly in 2019, when she had to take a medical leave from work.  During her time of physical healing Laura had the opportunity to heal spiritually as well.  She explored new ways of being and living, and she began to connect with her heart.  At the perfect time in her journey, the chance to participate in RTT-KAT cohort 3 arose.  Laura experienced profound change in herself and witnessed this in her co-participants.  She has learned to trust her heart and follow what it tells her, and this has led to the privilege and honour of becoming a member of the Roots to Thrive team. 

Kelsey Voysey BHSc: Co Facilitator
Eric Eligh, RN: Co-Facilitator
Kerrie Miller, RN: Co-Facilitator

Kelsey first came to the Roots to Thrive team as a patient-participant and is thrilled to transition into a co-facilitation role. She has experience working as a counsellor with adults, youth, and families; her expertise is in the areas of mental health, substance use, and trauma. Kelsey is passionate about offering a holistic approach to healing that encompasses all aspects of self and life. She holds the firm belief that we are all whole beings – that each of us is enough just as we are. 

Eric came to Roots to Thrive as a Registered Nurse and an individual committed to nurturing his relationship with himself. Eric has participated in Root to Thrive as a patient partner, an alumni, and now a mentee. Eric’s work has primarily been in the field of HIV and substance use. Through his experiences in healthcare and his own personal life, Eric has come to know the role of community as inseparable from the experience of healing and health.

Bio coming soon

Graham Walker, MA, RCC: Co-facilitator
Ryan Boyer, M.Ed., B.H.Sc., C.C.C: Co-facilitator
Crystal Fee, RN: Facilitator, Program Nurse

Graham comes to the Roots to Thrive team with a passion for supporting people on their journeys of healing and growth. He has worked as a clinical counsellor since 2011 using an integrative therapeutic approach that includes the mind and body while honouring people’s inherent wisdom to heal themselves. Graham believes in the power of genuine community and the values of compassion, respect and authenticity to promote human wellness and thriving.

Ryan lives and works on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw people. Ryan grew up in Northern Alberta, moving to Nanaimo, BC in 2018. Ryan has a strong passion for working with diverse and often times marginalized populations and loves being connected to people who are engaged in their own healing journey. Ryan was a participant in the third cohort of RTT-KAT. He feels strongly about the healing potential the Roots to Thrive program can provide people from all walks of life. Moreover, he is grateful to have the opportunity to join the Roots to Thrive team. Ryan is learning how to see himself with love and compassion in the present moment and wishes to welcome everyone to Roots to Thrive!

Bio coming soon

Jagpaul Deol, BSc(Pharm), MSc-C, RPh: Program Pharmacist

Jagpaul is a Clinical Pharmacist and an Assistant Professor at UBC Faculty of Pharmacy. She is an HIV Specialist with advanced training in mental health and addictions and over a decade of experience in Cannabinoid Medicine. In addition to the traditional models of pharmaceutical care, she has used her knowledge of the pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of psychedelics to ensure the safe use of plant medicines through a harm reduction lens. She is a vocal proponent of diversity and equity in both pharmaceutical and plant medicine models. Her primary pharmacy practice currently is rooted in LGBTQ2S+ health and wellness with a special interest in South Asian mental health and addictions.