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What is more powerful than a good conversation?

Join us as President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. David T. Barnard hosts Visionary Conversations—an evening for people who love exploring tough questions about the topics that fascinate us. Come learn, debate and discuss alongside experts and community leaders. Join the conversation.

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  • Bob Christmas

    Dr. Bob Chrismas [MPAdm/09, PhD/17]

    Bob Chrismas has served over 40 years in various Canadian law enforcement and peacekeeping roles, currently as Staff Sergeant with the Winnipeg Police Service. Professionally and personally, he strives to focus on collaborative approaches in addressing social problems and has written prolifically on a broad range of justice-related topics. He is the author of Canadian Policing in the 21st Century: A Frontline Officer on Challenges and Changes; Sex Industry Slavery: Protecting Canada's Youth; and co-editor of Our Shared Future: Windows into Canada's Reconciliation Journey.

  • Mitch Bourbonniere

    Mitch Bourbonniere [BSW/87, MSW/95]

    Community activist, affiliated with Mama Bear Clan Patrol, founding member of the original Bear Clan Patrol

    A founding member of the Bear Clan patrol, Mitch Bourbonniere has over 30 years of experience working with individuals, families, neighbourhoods, organizations and communities experiencing trauma, oppression, and generational woundedness. On his own time as a volunteer and through his private practice, he works with some of the city’s most vulnerable people, navigating everything from gangs to sexual exploitation.

  • Dr. Ginette Poulin

    Dr. Ginette Poulin [BesSc/00, BSc(HNS)/03]

    Director, Mentorship and Clinical Enhancement Program, College of Medicine, University of Manitoba
    Medical Director, Addictions Foundation of Manitoba
    Prairie Node Clinical Lead, National Opioid Guideline Development for Opiate Use Disorder, Canadian Research Initiative for Substance Misuse

    Dr. Poulin is a family physician, registered dietitian and advocate for vulnerable populations across Manitoba, particularly those suffering from mental health and addictions issues. She holds an international certification in Addictions Medicine, offers services in Opiate Replacement Therapy and Residential Programs, and is the co-author of Management of Opioid Use Disorders: A National Clinical Guideline.

  • Rick Lees

    Rick Lees

    Executive Director, Main Street Project

    As a strong community health advocate for marginalized populations, Rick Lees has served in diverse community-health leadership positions across Canada for over 25 years. His work with the Main Street Project aims to address issues of addiction, mental health, and homelessness by adopting housing first, trauma informed and harm reduction principles. Lees is currently a jurist for the Health Canada Drug Check Technology Challenge, helping drug users and those who support them make informed decisions based on the composition of a drug and to reduce harm.

  • Doctor Knight

    Dr. Erin Knight [BesSc/05, BSc(Hons)/09, MD/13]

    Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
    Medical Director, Addictions Unit, Health Sciences Centre

    Dr. Erin Knight practices family medicine at Winnipeg’s Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre and Addiction Medicine in Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Her research focuses on community engagement, safety and accessibility of services. She is committed to the development, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based addiction services, as well as to educational initiatives that enhance capacity to identify and treat addiction within health care. Dr. Knight represents Manitoba on the Addiction Medicine Program Committee for the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

  • Kathleen Buddle

    Dr. Kathleen Buddle

    Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, University of Manitoba

    Kathleen Buddle specializes in Applied and Media Anthropology, with research that includes Indigenous media activism in Canada; Indigenous and Newcomer street gangs; the cultural production of prairie lawlessness; and the disciplining of the bodies of criminal others. She is a partner and the Principal Investigator and Program Evaluator for the Wahkohotowin Strengthening Families Program which provides trauma-informed, culturally-safe family counseling, and promotes cultural reclamation and healing within and between minority families.

  • Danny Smyth

    Danny Smyth [BA/83, ExtEd/05]

    Chief, Winnipeg Police Service

    In his 32-year-career with the Winnipeg Police Service, Chief Smyth has worked in a number of areas including Uniform Operations, Intelligence, Organized Crime, and Organizational Development. He has played key roles in establishing a full time Tactical Support Team, the Street Crime Unit, and the Counter-Exploitation Unit. As Deputy Chief, he oversaw the Criminal Investigations Bureau which includes Homicide, Major Crimes, Organized Crime, and Professional Standards. Chief Smyth has also taught at the University of Winnipeg in the department of criminal justice.

  • Melanie McKinnon

    Melanie MacKinnon [BN/96]

    Executive Director, Ongomiizwin Health Services
    Head, Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
    Senior Health Advisor to the Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC)

    Melanie MacKinnon is a member of Misipawistik Cree Nation (Grand Rapids, Manitoba), with roots in Pimichikamak Cree Nation (Cross Lake, Manitoba) and Wabowden, Manitoba. Throughout the course of her career, she has served in many different roles within the health sector. As a senior healthcare administrator and advocate, her work has informed regional and national policy shifts and generated new program mandates over the past two plus decades. Ms. Mackinnon is a senior health leader and advocate with an influential Indigenous voice within the province and country at large.

  • Tamara Taillieu

    Dr. Tamara Taillieu [BA/05, BHEc/08, MSc/11, PhD/19]

    Instructor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences; Research Associate, Child Adversity and Resilience (CARe) Research Team and the Manitoba Population Health Research Group, University of Manitoba

    Dr. Taillieu’s teaching responsibilities have included classes on human development, family diversity, family violence, children in adversity, and family violence prevention. Her research interests include the effects of child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and other traumatic events on physical and mental health across the lifespan. Her life has also been impacted by addiction personally and as a result she has become involved with the community advocacy group Overdose Awareness Manitoba. This group is committed to advocating for change in the mental health and addictions systems and ensuring that the voices of all of those who have left us too soon continue to be heard.

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