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In the 2022–2023 school year, School Mental Health Ontario launched the Identity-Affirming School Mental Health: A Frame for Reflection and Action to help guide school boards as they thoughtfully reflect and plan resources and supports for their respective communities to meet the unique mental health needs of every student.

This presentation will unpack the Frame and show how the path to identity-affirming mental health begins with explicit commitments to reconciliation and equity and is actioned by dismantling oppression and racism; engaging with student, families and communities with cultural humility; amplifying diverse ways of knowing and being by decentring whiteness and responding with differentiated and identity-affirming supports and resources. The presentation will provide concrete ways to influence system change, as well as concrete individual actions to practice from an identity-affirming approach.


Toni Lauzon is of mixed ancestry with Mi’kmaw and Black roots.  She is a Registered Social Worker with a Master of Sociology and a Master of Social Work. She is on secondment to School Mental Health Ontario from the Greater Essex District School Board where she was a school social worker supporting Indigenous students. At School Mental Health Ontario, she has assumed the role of Reconciliation, Equity, and Identity-Affirming Mental Health Consultant.  Toni is a social justice advocate, life-long learner, avid reader but most importantly a mother and partner.

Tracey Grose holds an MSW degree from the University of Georgia and a certificate in School Social Work from Wayne State University. She has worked in children’s community mental health in Detroit, Michigan and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. After returning home to Ontario, Tracey obtained a permanent position as the first Black social worker, with the Durham District School Board of Education. Tracey enjoys teaching and mentoring students. She is known as the connector, facilitating connections with community organization such as the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies’ “One Vision, One Voice” study, community representative on the African Canadian adaptation of Stop Now and Plan (SNAP) and she is currently the Chair of the Ontario Association of Social Workers School Social Work Advisory Group. Most recently, Tracey has assumed the role of Culturally Responsive School Mental Health Practices Lead and Implementation Coach with School Mental Health Ontario.

Saleem Haniff (TBC)

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