Meet the Team

Northern Initiative Team 2016-2017

Program Directors

Georgia Dow

Hi I’m Georgia and I am one of the current Northern Program Directors! I grew up in Belleville ON, which is just down the 401 from Kingston! In Spring of 2016 I was fortunate to go on initiative to Webequie with my Co-Program Director, Lily and this experience changed my life. FUN FACT: I ate over three pounds of PB whilst on initiative… I am finishing up my second year at Queen’s in Health Studies and hope to move towards teaching or health-care post-graduation. I really enjoy working with kids/youth and spending my afternoons outside! I am so excited to see the Peer Educators continue to grow and thrive during/after initiative and I can’t wait to hear their stories!

Lily Helmer-Smith

Hi everyone! I am a 5th year student, in Health Studies with a minor in Global Development. I grew up in a small town in British Columbia called Invermere. Situated right in the mountains, I grew up enjoying the outdoors, being active, and spending quality time with family and friends. During the 2015-2016 academic year, I had the wonderful opportunity of being trained to be a Peer Educator within QHO and I worked within Webequie First Nation, Ontario with Georgia Dow. This was a fantastic experience, as we got to know the wonderful community and people of Webequie and we got to teach about many different health topics. During my time with QHO I have continued to learn about the importance and impact of health education as an agent for youth development and healthy communities. These are the reasons that I got involved with QHO and why I value this organization so much! Keep updated on our blogs to hear what the Peer Educators get up to in and out of the classroom this Spring!

John Thomson

Peer Educators

Carly Machum: Webequie Peer Educator

My name is Calry and I am a 2nd year Political Studies major. A few of my hobbies are running, reading, bouldering, and baking cookies and eating them all right out of the oven!!!!!!! I chose to get involved with QHO because I believe one of the key ways we can work to empower youth locally and internationally is through the promotion of sexual, physical, mental and social health. QHO aims to provide health education in a peer-to-peer setting which is so useful with sensitive topics in health, and it allows for meaningful discussions and questions in a safe and welcoming environment for all students. QHO has allowed me to apply my passion for health in a positive and effective way! QHO has taught me the importance of being open-minded and the kind of positive connections we can make with our peers. I have learned so much about topics in health as well as the value of creating discussions around topics such as bullying, grief management, healthy relationships, and consensual sex. I cannot wait to take what I've learned so far on initiative with me and to continue learning from the students and community members of Webequie!

Jacqueline Toole: Webequie Peer Educator

My name is Jacqueline Toole (most people call me JJ) and I am a second year Kinesiology student. I am also a member of the Varsity Cycling Team at Queen’s and I enjoy anything that involves being outdoors! I love to ski, bike, hike and am always up for an adventure! Becoming a part of QHO has had an incredible impact on my university experience. I chose to apply for QHO, and specifically the Northern Canada initiative because I am passionate about Indigenous issues and I believe there is a lot to be done to reconcile Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous peoples. Through QHO I have developed many skills such as how to think critically and be open-minded. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside the amazing individuals that make up QHO!

Krista Magee: Pond Inlet Peer Educator

I am currently completing my 4th year at Queen’s University, as a Health Studies major and Biology minor. This is my second year as a member of the QHO team! I am passionate about coffee, baking and watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I was motivated to get involved with QHO because I have developed a strong interest for physical and mental health and hope to pursue a career in sustainable health education after graduating. Being apart of the QHO Northern Initiative and working with like-minded individuals has opened my eyes to the various health inequities that exist within northern Canadian communities. I have learned so much so far as a PE and I cannot wait to continue to learn more from the students and community members in Pond Inlet! 

Emma Butler: Pond Inlet Peer Educator

My name is Emma Butler, I am in my second year of the Nursing program. In my spare time I enjoy soccer, volleyball, piano, cooking, and eating chocolate. I got involved with QHO because I have always had a passion for health education and, as a nursing student, I was interested in looking at applying my knowledge of health education in a different context. I loved QHO's idea of peer to peer education and was excited about the opportunity to learn more about different Indigenous communities in Canada. One thing I have learned from QHO is that every community is unique and it is important to learn what each community finds important in health education and to focus on those topics.

Nadia Dicostanzo: Fort Providence Peer Educator

My name is Nadia and I am a 4th year Kinesiology student. In my spare time I like bouldering, teaching fitness, and munching cogro bagels. During my time at Queen’s University I have enjoyed my classes on health-related topics. I have also been able to get involved with several youth programming initiatives which allowed me to work closely and be a mentor for children in the Kingston community. QHO has given me the opportunity to combine my passion for working with children while teaching subjects that I am excited about in a new setting, enabling me to learn more about all aspects of Canadian culture and history. Through my involvement in QHO I have learned about how to better communicate and start conversations about stigmatized health topics in the Canadian north.

Jonah Kahansky: Fort Providence Peer Educator

My name is Jonah and I am finishing my 4th year of Global Development Studies. When I'm not skiing, hiking, playing basketball, hockey, and tennis, I love listening to music (shout out Kings of Leon), and eating far too much humus. The unique peer-to-peer, local partnership based health education that QHO offers really spoke to me. I was really passionate about being a part of the Northern initiative because I think that exploring peer based health education that appreciates and celebrates indigenous cultures was something amazing to be a part of and learn from. QHO has taught me that health education can be a powerful tool to empower kids and help them to builder healthier long-term lifestyles for themselves!

Emma Mortimore: Salluit Peer Educator

Hey guys! I'm Emma Mortimore and I am currently in my second year of Life Sciences. Some of my hobbies include hiking, swimming and eating peanut butter! I was motivated to get involved with QHO because I found that the organization's beliefs really lined up with my own. I am an avid health promoter and really believe in sustainable, needs-based education. One thing that I have learned from QHO - and continue to learn - is the power of teamwork. I have met so many kind, passionate and supportive people here at QHO, and they inspire me everyday. Stay healthy my friends!

Abby Christi: Salluit Peer Educator

My name is Abby and I am in my first year at Queen’s University majoring in Biology or French (big decisions still to come!). In my spare time finding new inspirational quotes, blasting Taylor Swift songs and munching on allergen friendly and low fodmap snacks. I was first introduced to QHO because of the Northern Initiative. I was drawn to this initiative, because I felt that I had received so many opportunities and learning experiences as a child growing up in Canada. I wanted to find a way to make the kind of experiences and opportunities (that I benefited from) more accessible to indigenous youth, according to their community's individual needs. Similarly, I wanted to learn more about the culture and belief systems in communities in Northern Canada. Being a Peer Educator with QHO is a dream come true, because I am able to both learn from community members, while sharing my love for health practices (along with Emma Mortimore, the most amazing teaching partner who ever lived!!). It's impossible to choose just one thing I have learned from QHO. However, I think our discussions on a number of Global Development-related concepts (on using words such as "initiative", "needs-based" when talking about QHO) were very important for me. I also really appreciated the workshops and presentations that helped me better understand the history of the indigenous people of Canada, and the very different belief systems and cultural practices that their communities might have. These have both educated me and helped me grow outside my comfort zone.