About the Advisory Group
The Transform Dance Advisory Group is a group of individuals whose role is to provide suggestions, oversight and support to the project. Members are a mixture of people from within the dance community and from other fields of practice. They all share a commitment to building healthier and safer arts communities.
The names and any identifying characteristics of participants are not shared with the Advisory Group. Nonetheless, to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the process, the Advisory Group have all signed Non-Disclosure Agreements. Additionally, all members of the Advisory Group are willing to ‘sit out’ advising around a given case should a participant request it.
Click on a group member’s photo to learn more about them, or scroll down.
What values guide the Advisory Group, the coordinator and the project as a whole?
Our values and principles:
Safety, healing and agency for people directly affected is our first concern - this might mean that processes occur slower than anticipated, or that processes consist entirely of healing work and do not involve the engagement of people who have done harm
Choice and consent are crucial to the process - we do not rely on coercion; rather we invite people into dialogue, collaboration and growth
We are committed to transparency, both internally within Transform Dance, with participants and community members, and externally as we share our learnings with the dance sector at large
We seek to build and hold ethical space - this means space where all parties have choice in how deeply they want to engage, and where all parties can grow and learn
Workplace harassment, workplace harm and gender-based violence are social, systemic and sectoral problems, not just individual ones - we are all learning and unlearning
Respect and dignity for all parties is integral to a healthy process - we are working to create a culture of calling in, not calling out
Privacy is extremely important - we understand that reputation and relationships are integral to arts livelihoods, and concerns about privacy are a barrier to seeking support; we’ve put a number of mechanisms in place to care for the confidentiality of everyone involved
Working towards equity - this means we look at harassment through an intersectional lens and seek to prioritize access for people who are affected by identity-based discrimination such as racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia
And finally, the work of transformative justice is challenging and valuable - we endeavor and we invite participants to approach it with compassion, integrity and vulnerability
Karen B. K. Chan is an award-winning sex and emotional literacy educator in Toronto, Canada, with 20+ years of experience. Trained in Creative Facilitation, Productive Thinking, and Non-Violent Communication, BK's favourite ways to learn and teach are through stories, metaphors, diagrams, and things that make people laugh.
Above all, BK is dedicated to having difficult conversations that are real, transformative, and kind.
What inspired you or interested you to become a part of Transform Dance “Over the last 15 years, I have been involved in a number community initiatives that attempt to resolve conflicts and bridge gaps creatively and connectedly. Many of them felt like moments of failure, and just as many felt gratifying. All of them felt worthwhile, however, because the options we had before - mostly punitive, shunning, adversarial, or like "changing the topic" - were not good enough anymore. They were causing as much pain as the conflicts and distances that started the whole cycle. Transform Dance is an important opportunity to continue to practice transformation, with a multi-disciplinary team, in a thoughtful, measured, and courageous way.
What hopes do you have for this project? “I hope it increases engagement on all levels: artists with their art and the contexts in which they make their art; everyday people with their courage and pain and hope and community and resilience; practitioners (I use this term broadly) of transformation with the process, form, and possibilities of transformation.”
Hirut Melaku, IBCLC, is a consultant in pregnancy and infant feeding with a focus on racial equity, sexual violence and LGBTQ2 issues. She is a birth companion and reproductive justice advocate who applies early intervention strategies and preventative care models into her work using an anti-oppression framework.
The investigative and reporting work that she has done in the last 20 years has been used by many, including the United Nations, to determine humanitarian aid, and by local players to develop initiatives, programs, and interventions in the area of mental health.
She contributes to repairing the world as a healer, nurturer, and as a speaker of truth. Hirut credits her ancestors, unique background and intersectional identities (Beta Israel, queer, mother of a gifted child with [dis]abilities) for keeping her grounded and connected.
She runs her own private practice (www.hirut.org) and is a co-founder of the Third Eye Collective, a survivor-led organization for Black women who have experienced gender violence. (www.thirdeyemontreal.com)
She loves traveling- having lived, studied and worked in Africa, North America, and the Middle East.
What would you want a person considering reaching out to Transform Dance to know about you and/or the project? ”My practice is deeply informed by principles of transformative justice. I provide community-based support on an ongoing capacity to sexual assault survivors through the grassroots organization, Third Eye Collective, a collective I co-founded in 2013 to serve as a first point of contact for Black girls and women in Montreal.
“My key take away from doing this work is that TJ transforms because of the PROCESS, and not the end goal(s). I've witnessed survivors feel empowered and transformed, not because of the actions of the perpetrator who has harmed, rather because there was a community of individuals who prioritize their safety and self-determination through listening, advocating and putting plans in place to stop the violence and address the harm. Healing is not conditional on the perpetrator of harm participating in the process. Let's be honest - most of the time they will deny that they have harmed and refuse to participate in the accountability process.
“Where does this leave us? The challenge for us is to continue to see the humanity of those who harm, and invite them to a process of healing and not punishment.
“Transform Dance is an invitation to become the change we want to see in society by addressing the conditions that lead to violence in the dance community. It is an innovative and inspiring approach to community accountability.”
Douglas Stewart provides a range of organizational development services with an emphasis on change management, anti-racism, anti-oppression, diversity, human rights and cultural competence. He regularly works with organizations to deliver training, coaching, mediations, investigations, climate reviews and process facilitation.
Douglas’ career experience has included roles as Chief Human Rights Advisor, equity trainer and dispute resolution officer at Centennial College, Executive Director of The Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention and Support Counsellor at the AIDS Committee of Toronto. Current regular clients include Sherbourne Health Centre, The Alliance for Healthier Communities, Canadian Art and Canadian Actors Equity Association where he has assisted with the development of the Not In OUR Space! Campaign among other initiatives for the performing arts industry. He has also worked with the Toronto District School Board on anti-discrimination initiatives and in alternative school programs. He continues to be a movement organizer in the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
Douglas was the 2006 recipient of the City of Toronto’s William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations.
What inspired you or interested you to become a part of TransformDance? ”As an arts and culture enthusiast I have been engaged and inspired even further by my recent professional role to assist the industry and community around issues of equity and harassment. Through this experience so far I have learned and appreciated the nuances of the nature of the work and workplace that industry professionals have to navigate very differently than usual corporate or not for profit settings. While I enjoy the benefit of my skills in assisting individuals to find their voice in asserting their rights to ethical, respectful, accessible and ultimately safer workplaces and industry I also selfishly relish my own professional learning and growth in being part of a game changing moment.”
Amanda Hancox had a 30 year performance career as a dancer and actress in theatre, film and television. From 2006 – 2019, she was the Executive Director of the Dancer Transition Resource Centre (DTRC). Currently, Amanda is a facilitator for the Cultural Human Resources Council’s Maintaining Respectful Workplaces workshops, Chair of the Dance Committee of the Toronto Arts Council, and Secretary of the Board of WorkInCulture.
What inspired you to become a part of Transform Dance?”Over my years with the DTRC, I heard many stories of dancers becoming completely disillusioned with dance and their career due to bullying and harassment that can be inherent in what has historically been viewed a patriarchal art form. For someone to leave a career that they have pursued with dedication and passion since childhood because of another's behaviour is tragic. I am eager to see how the Transform Dance project might begin the healing process for those who have been harmed and educate those who have perpetrated these negative behaviours. I see Transform Dance as a step in creating a dance community of dignity, safety, and respect, where all can thrive.”
Jeanne LeSage, LeSage Arts Management, CHRL, MBA. Jeanne is an arts consultant with 28+ years’ experience in the sector across Canada and abroad with experience at high profile organizations such as the Toronto International Film Festival, Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, and Royal Opera House Muscat.
She is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL), holds an MBA in Management Consulting, and owns and operates LeSage Arts Management consultancy with a focus on strategic human resources, organizational development, facilitation and strategy. Jeanne is the author of “Reporting and Investigation Mechanisms for Workplace Harassment in the Arts” for the Cultural Human Resources Council – which includes key recommendations for the sector. www.lesagearts.com
What inspired you or interested you to become a part of Transform Dance? “When I was approached by Generator to be a part of Transform Dance as an advisor - I was interested and inspired on a few levels. First, while there has been great awareness in recent years in the sector in working towards fair and respectful workplaces - there is so much more work to do, and we need to keep the momentum going. Secondly - the fact that the goal of this project is to approach a transformative justice and mediation AFTER an incident of harassment is so important for long term healing, community accountability and lasting change in our sector. And thirdly, and most importantly - I feel very fortunate to assist on this project as I can - but to also listen and learn from the group that has been brought together.”
James Foy is a lawyer in Toronto. He primarily represents people facing criminal charges, as well as assists businesses and individuals with investigations into allegations of criminal behaviour or harassment in the workplace. Before he became a lawyer, James was a producer and production manager for independent theatre and dance. He sits on Generator's board of directors.
What inspired you to become a part of Transform Dance? “The criminal justice system is a blunt instrument for dealing with many instances of harm experienced in the workplace and within a close-knit community. I was inspired to be a part of Transform Dance to help explore and support a meaningful approach to addressing conflict through transformative justice.”
Kristina Lemieux is an accomplished arts manager with more than 20 years of professional experience. She is also a contemporary dancer. Raised in Treaty 6 territory (rural Alberta), Kristina lived in Edmonton, attending the University of Alberta, for 10 years before heading to Vancouver where her passion for the arts has driven collaboration, creation, and innovation in the Vancouver arts scene for over a decade. After working with Generator in a freelance capacity for several years, Kristina made the move to Toronto in January 2017 to take on the role of Lead Producer of Generator.
Kristina is passionate about generating dialogue in the arts and, to this end, earned a certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement from Simon Fraser University. In all that she does she works to support independent artists across performing disciplines in finding ways to make art outside of the currently prescribed modes.
What hopes do you have for this project? “Transform Dance was born out of a desire to see the reaction to the #MeToo movement move past policy or policing and into a space where we can come together as communities and hold each other accountable with care. We all participate in the systems that allow harassment and unsafe spaces to flourish. We must all work to unlearn these behaviours and the biases behind them, but this work needs a community around it, one made up of those who know us and those who can guide us. I am incredibly honored to be working with this group of people as we imagine and work towards a different way of being and working together.”
Meg Saxby, MSW, RSW is a social worker, educator and therapist based in Hamilton and Toronto. For over ten years, her practice has focused on how individuals, groups and organizations can respond effectively to conflict and interpersonal violence, with a particular focus on gender-based violence and harassment. Meg is the project coordinator for Transform Dance.
What inspired you to become a part of Transform Dance? ”I’ve been working on gender violence for over a decade, including years practicing as a TJ facilitator and years supporting survivors as they navigate the legal system. I never expected the conversation to reach the mainstream media with so much force as it did in 2017. I think we’re now at a very pivotal moment, culturally --we have the chance to shift the stigma and silence, and to develop deeper and more effective responses to harm. For me, Transform Dance is a very inspiring and creative approach, because it’s collective, voluntary, one-size-fits-one and focused on healing and transformation. I am very honoured to be a part of this project.”