ROOTS TO THRIVE Logo cropped

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

Dr. Shannon spearheaded the development of the 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. Phil curates the playlists utilized in all medicine-assisted sessions offered by RTT.

Dr. Pamela Kryskow is the medical lead for the Roots To Thrive Program. She 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 and an Adjunct Professor at Vancouver Island University. Specializing in alleviating the complex modality of pain, she successfully synthesizes her training in family, rural, emergency, chronic pain, therapy 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.

Dr. Zhiish McKenzie
RTT-KAT physician

Geraldine Manson
Lead Elder

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

Gail brings nearly 50 years of nursing experience to Roots to Thrive. Much of her career has been working with and for Indigenous people and communities. Gail promotes awareness of physical, mental, and spiritual health issues associated with past traumas and walks beside people as they reconnect with their Inner Being. Gail is honoured to join this team with a special focus on provision of ketamine assisted therapy and psilocybin assisted therapy as an adjunct to the wrap around resiliency program. 

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
Darlus Jonsson
Somatic Energy Modalities
Ruth Dantzer

Todd is the Lead Counsellor 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 was 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.

Darlus has always been curious about the mind/body connection.  Working 30 years as a fitness and Stott Pilates instructor, Darlus noticed how emotional energy affected mobility, strength and motivation.

This prompted her to start reading Donna Eden’s work on Energy Medicine. When her two year old Granddaughter started stuttering, Darlus used two of Donna Eden’s recommended exercises with her Granddaughter, who ceased stuttering after 5 days. This motivated her to commit to four years of study, towards her Eden Energy Medicine, Advanced Practitioner certification. 

Darlus uses her skills to work with the subtle energy systems of the body, helping clear old patterns, habits and thoughts and allowing space for creativity, vitality and joy. 

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
Laura McLean, MD, FRCPC

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 joins the Roots to Thrive team with a background in counselling, and brings 8+ years of experience working in the field of 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. Brittany has mixed Northern European ancestry (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, English and mixed Scandinavian). She feels a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of the traditional and ancestral lands of the Coast Salish peoples, and is grateful to live and work on Snuneymuxw territory.

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 Cowichan Tribes, to whom she offers respect and honour.  Laura’s medical background is in respirology and critical care, but her clinical focus now is sleep medicine which she practices in the context of lifestyle medicine.  At a time in her life when she needed it most, Laura had the opportunity to participate in RTT-KAT cohort 3, which led to discovering new ways of being and living.  She experienced the profound change that comes with true self compassion, and she 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, CCAC
(she/her or they/them)
Eric Eligh, RN
Kerrie Miller, RN

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
Ryan Boyer, M.Ed., B.H.Sc., C.C.C
Facilitator and SFN Liaison

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

Laura Brace, RN, BScN
Allan Campbell

Laura joins the Roots to Thrive team as a co facilitator following patient participation in cohort 3. She is accompanied by her 25 years as an oncology registered nurse specializing in Leukemia\ Bone Marrow transplant as an inpatient RN, outpatient RN and most recently a case manager. Having identified a need within our current healthcare model for change, she is excited to learn and grow within this space and share this transformative way of “being” through integrating it into practice. RTT is a healing journey which transforms individuals, families and hopefully systems as the need for change becomes more and more prevalent within our collective societal trauma.

Hello Fellow Roots to Thrivers, My name is Allan Campbell and I am excited to be a part of the Roots to Thrive team. I come to this work as a curious participant with a desire for other means of supporting those I work with. I have been a counsellor over 20 yrs and have spent the majority of my career working with First Nations communities. I have been fortunate to have supportive and caring mentors over the years and feel privileged to have been invited to work in their territories. During this time I have come to terms with the reality the western methodologies fall short in terms being culturally safe and have spent much of my career exploring my own bias in worldviews and attempting to decolonize my work. As such, I am keen to learn of new ways of improving mental wellness that not rely on these old and culturally biased approaches. I currently live, work and play in the unceded territory of the Southern Laichwiltach Nations and call Campbell River my home. For the past 12 yrs my partner Catherine, 9 year old son Léo and I have come to love island life. My interests away from work revolve around being active and enjoying the outdoors. I am an avid mountain biker and in the winter I enjoy snowboarding which are both passions I have had since childhood. I played soccer all my life but in recent years the aches and pains of getting old has resulted in me having to slow down. To me, the outdoors is a place of healing for mind, body and spirit and I cherish every moment. I look forward to getting to know the Roots to Thrive community!

Tamara Pearl, MA, RCC.

As a Registered Clinical Counsellor, Tamara has worked and taught in the field of trauma healing for over 20 years, using somatic therapies, expressive arts therapy, EMDR, and other modalities, in a wide variety of settings. She is particularly interested in healing personal, intergenerational, collective, and cultural trauma. She has also worked as a community engagement lead for Reconciliation Canada, as a restorative justice facilitator, and as an adjunct faculty member at Adler University. She is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at SFU, where her research is focused on the power of healing relationships at an Indigenous Healing Village/prison. She is honoured to accompany people on their healing journeys.

Christine Dennstedt, PhD, RCC.
Sea to Sky RTT KaT Facilitator

As a clinical therapist and supervisor, Christine is informed by narrative and collaborative therapy practices. She has over 20 years experience working in the field of substance use, disordered eating and trauma. She has developed curriculum and taught group work, addiction counselling, and individual counselling courses at Vancouver Community College and Vancouver’s City University. Christine has practiced in multiple counselling settings including outreach, inpatient, and outpatient programs, doing both group therapy and individual work with clients. She currently works in Whistler, BC in private practice and is involved in new developments occurring in the field of psychedelics and mental health, serving those who seek alternatives to mainstream treatment. She is honoured to be working with Roots to Thrive as a group facilitator.

Shelley Genovese, RPN. Sea to Sky RTT KaT Program Nurse/Co-Facilitator

Shelley comes to Roots to Thrive with over 28 years of nursing in mental health including inpatient, emergency and community mental health and for the past 12 years has been passionately exploring other modalities including meditation, energy work, breathwork, sound, movement and plant medicine.  She is a mystic at heart and believes that the healing of our world starts with each one of us learning to love ourselves, remembering who we are and embracing our divinity.

Shelley joined RTT Kat as a participant in Cohort 3 and is now part of the Sea to Sky KaT Satellite Team.  Her own healing journey and love for life continues to inspire her to grow, share and support others.