Advisory Team

Shannon Dames, MPH, RN, EdD RTT-KAT Director
Phil Dames Director of Roots and KAT Operations
Pam Kryskow, MD Lead Ketamine-Assisted Therapy MD EFT Trainer

Dr. Shannon Dames comes to the RTT-KAT team with a focus on research and development, ensuring program methods are evidence and patient informed. She developed the Roots Theory and works as a nursing professor and resilience researcher. As a byproduct of her doctoral work that 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 of Roots to Thrive (RTT) and the integration of psychedelic-assisted therapies (RTT-KaT).

Phil comes to the RTT-KAT 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 mens health and the cultivation of environments that promote emotional awareness and expression. Phil developed the Roots to Thrive virtual program, which currently is being used in RTT-KAT.

Dr. Pamela Kryskow comes to the RTT-KAT 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: Intake Team, 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 RTT-KAT 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.

RTT-KAT Ambassadors

Marnie Roper: Lead in Cultural and Spiritual Health

Dr. Zhiish McKenzie: RTT-KAT physician

Geraldine Manson: Lead Elder

Marnie comes to the Roots to Heal 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
Griffin Russell, MPH, BA-CYC – Facilitator, Community Liaison & Harm Reduction Lead
Kate Wilton: Alumni Facilitator, 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.

Griffin comes to the Roots to Thrive team with over 20 years of health care experience, rooted in providing genuine and kind engagement, built upon listening to understand, and promoting safety, integrity, grace, empathic understanding, dignity and compassion. Operating from a place of humility, Griffin strives to partner with people, walking shoulder to shoulder, enabling and empowering them to be in charge of their process, while offering and sharing the gifts and insights of others learned along his journey.

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: 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. 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: Alumni Group 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 Provider 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 chaplain and 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.  

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.