Monthly Speaker Series

Sarah Gillon

Sarah graduated from the University of Manitoba College of Nursing in 2018 and started working in the Operating Room, Endoscopy, and Post Anesthesia Care Unit at Selkirk Regional Health Centre shortly thereafter.

Her passion for patient advocacy drew her to the OR where she was able to gain experience and develop skills and knowledge to work in different roles within the perioperative setting. A career in nursing has led to many exciting opportunities that she could never have imagined.

She has had privilege to provide patient-centered care to patients and their families during the surgical experience, precept, work collaboratively with leadership to plan and implement at the program level, and travel internationally as a volunteer nurse with Mercy Ships and Operation Walk Manitoba.

In 2023, Sarah began as the Project Lead for Surgical Services, focusing on improving equitable access to surgical and endoscopy care in the IERHA, where she is currently working.

Previous WOW Speakers

Brigitte Remillard: I completed my diploma in nursing at St. Boniface School of Nursing in 1988.  In 1989 I started working on the Palliative Care unit at St. Boniface Hospital. From 2000-2007 while working part time and raising my family, I worked on my Baccalaureate Program for Registered Nurses.  Once completed, in 2008 I was awarded the Clinical Resource Nurse position on the Palliative Care unit at St. Boniface Hospital.  In 2013, I started in the position of Palliative Care Coordinator for Southern Health – Santé Sud.  I worked in that position for nearly 10 years and recently in June 2023, started in the role of Manager for the Palliative Care program in Southern Health – Santé Sud.  

Speaking panel

Carrie Christianson: Carrie has been a Perioperative Nurse for over 17 years.  A graduate from the University of Alberta (2005), Carrie started in the perioperative setting when she moved to Australia where she learned all roles that support a patient’s surgical experience. Carrie quickly gained the respect of her physician and nursing colleagues and was the recipient of the Staff Excellence Award.  Through her career as an OR nurse, in Australia, London (Ontario) and in Winnipeg, Carrie has worked with both adult and pediatric patients for all services. Carrie has taken on various leadership roles as a preceptor, Manager, site-based Educator and is currently the WRHA Regional Surgery Educator. Carrie demonstrates adaptability and a passion for continuous learning as evidenced from her diverse work experience in all areas of Perioperative nursing.

Kassie Klassen: Kassie started her perioperative career during her senior practicum for the Bachelor of Nursing Program (university of Manitoba 2013).  She completed the WRHA Perioperative Nursing course at that time and upon graduating continued to gain a variety of other skills and certifications including: LASER, SANA (sedation and anesthesia by an non-anesthetist) and her CNA certification in Perioperative Nursing (CPNC) in 2018. Kassie has gained experience in urology, gynecology, general surgery, plastics, ENT, head & neck, vascular and cardiac surgeries leading her to her current role  as the CRN for plastic surgery and acute care surgical service (ACSS) at St. Boniface OR.  Kassie’s passion and dedication for perioperative nursing has extended to her active involvement with the Manitoba Operating Room Nurses Association (MORNA) since 2015 and to her current position as President for the 2022-2024 term.

Vanessa Ferdinand: Growing up Vanessa always knew she wanted to be a nurse, wanting to become an OR nurse came once she started nursing school. Finishing her Bachelor of Nursing in Brandon (2010) Vanessa returned to Newfoundland and worked in Neuro/Med and post-op Urology.  In 2012 a move back to Brandon opened an opportunity of a life time, to take a Perioperative course at Saskatchewan Polytechnic and work in the OR.  Since then Vanessa has gained experience in Ophthalmology, Dental, Urology, Thoracic, ENT, Orthopedics, Obstetrical/Gynecological and General Surgery. In 2018 Vanessa moved into her current role as the Regional Clinical Nurse Educator for the Surgical Suite and Endoscopy for Prairie Mountain Health. Vanessa has also been recently taken on the role of President Elect  (2023-2024) for the Manitoba Operating Rooms Nurses Association (MORNA).  Her passion and dedication was rewarded this past April at the Operating Room Nurses Association of Canada (ORNAC) Conference when Vanessa was awarded the Gloria Stephens Award for Excellence as an Educator in Perioperative Nursing.  

Speaker: Caitlin M I. McNeill

Caitlin is a member of the Mosakahiken Cree Nation and graduated from the nursing program at the University of Manitoba in 2015. She is slated to complete the Master of Public Health program at the University of Victoria in the spring of 2024.

Over the course of her nursing career, she has worked in Gillam, The Pas, Thompson, and the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. She has experience in emergency nursing, long-term care, maternity, intermediate-care nursery, and addictions and mental health care. Working in the north has provided her with unique opportunities to develop a wide variety of clinical skills, take on leadership roles, and participate in the development of innovative service delivery models. She is currently the Director of Health Services for the Opaskwayak Health Authority where she is responsible for overseeing a public health program, a primary care clinic, specialist clinics, the Jordan’s Principle program, a medical transportation department, a mental wellness program, opioid agonist therapy, home care, a maternal child health/doula program, and a long-term care home.

Caitlin’s experience building Opaskwayak’s opioid agonist therapy program gave her a passion for advocacy and program development. This experience also led her to become a reviewer for the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Harm Reduction Fund in 2020, to act as a consultant for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, and to serve as the first nurse faculty member of the Opioid Agonist Therapy 101 workshop offered by the University of Manitoba’s CPD Medicine Program for prescribers and pharmacists interested in providing opioid agonist therapy.

Speaker: Tracy Abraham

Tracy graduated Nursing at Red River College in 2009.  Her first place of employment was the Beausejour Hospital where her love for rural nursing began.  She worked in the acute med/surg unit and the Rural Emergency Dept for 2 ½ years, when opportunity arose to work in the newly developed Beausejour Endoscopy program where she spent 2 more years.  With her keen interest in leadership, Tracy transferred from Beausejour to the Pinawa Hospital to work as the Clinical Resource Nurse.   She held this position for 2 years before advancing into the role of Clinical Team Manager of the Pinawa Hospital and Cancer Services which remains her current role.  Tracy attributes her advancements through leadership are in part to greater opportunities within rural healthcare, but also due to great leadership and mentorship along the way.

The Cancer Services portfolio has provided an incredible experience where Tracy has had the opportunity to help increase access to services and resources for rural communities, while promoting cancer awareness and screening in our region, including our First Nation communities.

In February 2023, Tracy was a part of the Manitoba Delegation that participated in the Philippines Nursing Recruitment Mission.  It was an incredible experience where we have successfully recruited nurses and health care aides who are very eager to join our Manitoba Healthcare Team.

Speaker: Kayla Vanderwees

Kayla graduated from the University of Manitoba College of Nursing in 2016 and started her first job working in the Riverview Health Centre float pool shortly thereafter. It gave Kayla the experience of working in different areas of nursing. She helped patients regain strength and go home on the stroke rehab unit, worked with long-term ventilated patients, and provided comfort focused care on the palliative unit. This is where she found her passion. After a stint on the specialized dementia unit, she was able to secure a position back in palliative care and in January 2022, became unit Clinical Resource Nurse. Through all her past work experiences, Kayla has been able to speak about Non-Forced Care on units and at the 2022 Manitoba Palliative Care Conference. In Fall 2022, she further challenged herself by taking a University of Manitoba clinical group on the palliative unit. Kayla never could have predicted this nursing career path, but by being open to new opportunities she has had some amazing experiences that she is so grateful for.

Speaker: Staff Development/Infection Provincial & Control Team in Southern Health Santé-Sud

Julie Roberts has been a Registered Nurse since 1987. She has worked at Portage District General Hospital and Grace General Hospital. Julie has nursed in both medicine and critical care areas, achieving her CNA certification in Emergency Nursing. She is currently employed in Southern Health Santé Sud as a Clinical Educator based in Portage and has been in the role since 2016. 

Kim Dorion has been a Registered Nurse since 2010. She has worked at HSC on a surgical inpatient unit, and in SICU before moving to southern MB where she is now employed with Southern Health Santé Sud as the Regional Critical Care Education Facilitator. 

Tara Stewart has been in health care since 1999, having held roles as an HCA, LPN and RN.  She has worked in many areas over the years; personal care homes, surgery/obstetrics, rehab/surgery and has been in her current role as an Education Facilitator/Infection Control Professional since 2016. 

Speaker: Lori Kemp

Lori started working in mental health and addictions in 2009.  She completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing degree at Brandon University in May 2014, working as a Crisis Worker at the Crisis Stabilization Unit in Brandon and at times a casual Residential Care Worker at Addictions Foundation Parkwood (Brandon) during her university years.  Lori has worked at Fairview Personal Care Home as a nurse on the advanced dementia unit on 5th floor, and as the Mental Health Resource Nurse at Fairview PCH.  She returned to the Crisis Stabilization Unit as a nurse before joining the Regional Education team of Prairie Mountain Health as the Mental Health educator.  She is now the nurse at the Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine Clinic, located at the 7th St Health Access Centre in Brandon, and has held this job since November 2019.  She lives with her partner and their cat, and on weekends in the spring and fall she is part of the Air Cadet Gliding Centre at the Brandon airport.

Speaker: Tina Anderson

Ever since she was a child growing up in Dublin, Tina Anderson always wanted to be a nurse. She started working as a dietary aid over 25 years ago, and went on to obtain her Health Care Aide diploma from Red River College while working part-time and raising her family. She never lost her passion to become a nurse, and graduated from the Accelerated Nursing Diploma Program at Red River College in 2005. Her nursing career started at Concordia Hospital in the med-surg float pool and Emergency department, where she worked for over 10 years.

In 2013, Tina started working at Cancercare Manitoba, initially in the gynecological oncology out-patient clinic. She currently works with the radiation oncology program as the brachytherapy nurse, specializing in the treatment of gynecological and prostate cancer. Her current role also includes assisting with procedures in the Manitoba Prostate Centre.  Tina is married, has two adult children, and is a proud “Nan” to her 3 grandchildren.

Speaker: Corinne Del Rio

Celebrating almost 30 years as a nurse, Corinne Del Rio has gained valuable experience in a variety of roles throughout her career. She graduated from the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) school of nursing in 1993 and started her career in the United States, working in both Oklahoma and then Wyoming. She worked in many different departments including medical and surgical units before returning to Winnipeg in 1996 to join HSC’s IV team. Since then she’s found her home on the GD3 unit as a clinical education facilitator teaching third year University of Manitoba nursing students.

Speaker: Vera Duncan

Vera Duncan is a master’s prepared Registered Nurse with 27 years of experience in Mental Health, Emergency and Gerontological nursing including working overseas in Australia. Her current role as Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Misericordia Health Centre involves best practice implementation and evaluation in the Long-Term Care and Surgery programs. Vera successfully completed the International Interprofessional Wound Care Course (IIWCC) in 2014 and is the Advanced Wound Care Clinician as part of her CNS role.    

Speaker: Philibert Ruberandinda

Philibert Ruberandinda came to Canada from Rwanda in 2000. Philibert is the director of care at Action Marguerite St Vital location.

Speaker: Patty Grocholski, LPN

Patty Grocholski is a Licensed Practical Nurse in the Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority. Initially getting her start in nursing at a Personal Care Home, Patty now practices on an Acute care ward in Selkirk Regional Health Centre’s Out Patient Department. Patty has been involved in the Union in many different capacities throughout her career, and is currently the local Union president.

Speaker: Megan Boscow RN BN

Born and raised in the north, I am committed to improving health access and health outcomes for northern populations in Manitoba. 

After working in various settings including acute medicine and obstetrics in The Pas, I moved into undergraduate nursing education.

I now work as a nurse educator training nursing students at University College of the North in partnership with the College of Nursing at University of Manitoba. 

Speaker: Crystal Bogue, CRN

Crystal has been working as a Critical Care nurse for over 7 years at Portage District General Hospital in Portage la Prairie, MB and for the last 4 of those years she has been the facility’s Critical Care Clinical Resource Nurse (CRN). She started her career in health care as an Emergency Medical Responder in 2005 and then began working as a Technical Clerical Support Worker with Diagnostic Services. These roles sparked her interest in a nursing career so she returned to school to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing at University of Manitoba. While attending nursing school, Crystal continued working part-time in Diagnostics Services and then as a Health Care Aide. Her professional journey and the various roles she has held over the years have allowed Crystal to experience healthcare from many perspectives and have given her valuable insight. Crystal grew up in Portage la Prairie and still lives in the area with her husband and 5-year-old daughter.

Speaker: Nicole Wilson is a Critical Care Nurse, HSC Winnipeg

Nicole graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2016 and started her career at HSC on GH3, an acute surgical unit specializing in urology, general surgery and surgical oncology. Nicole began the Winnipeg Critical Care Nursing Education Program in September 2019 and upon completion accepted a position in MICU. Nicole lives in St. Norbert with her fiancée and the head of their household, a cavapoo named Ted. When not at work Nicole enjoys going for dinner with friends or family, working out, travelling, and cheering on the Winnipeg Jets.

Speaker: Lana Happychuk is a Public Health Nurse, WRHA

Lana Happychuk has been a Registered Nurse for 15 years.  She is currently working in Pubic Health for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority as an RN, Authorized Prescriber.  She has the licensing notation as an authorized prescriber for reproductive health, STBBI and travel health client populations.  She has been able to utilize both licensing notations: Reproductive Health and STBBI while previously working at Nine Circles Community Health Centre and Travel Health. She is currently based out of the WRHA Travel Health and Tropical Medicine Services Clinic.  She loves strong coffee and is someone who would not thrive day-to-day without at least a low level of constant chaos.  She is also known as “momma” to her busy “Warrior-Princess-Wizards” named Amelia and Gabrielle, and their seven month old four-legged side-kick, Owen. 

Speaker: Danielle Lobert is a Best Practice Educator – Obstetrics at the Thompson General Hospital

Danielle Lobert is a Best Practice Educator – Obstetrics at the Thompson General Hospital and in the surrounding area which includes Lynn Lake, Leaf Rapids, and Gillam in the Northern Health Region. She received her Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Manitoba in 2010 where she specialized in obstetrics and rural and Northern nursing. She has two kids and lives in Thompson, MB

Speaker: Stephanie Robertson, Clinical Educator at Brandon Regional Health Center

Stephanie Robertson is a Registered Nurse and a Regional Clinical Educator for Emergency in the Prairie Mountain Health Region, based out of Brandon Regional Health Centre.  She received her Bachelor of Nursing degree in 2009 from the University of Manitoba.  After graduating, she started her career at Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg working as a Nurse II on a surgical ward. She has 3 kids and lives in the small southwestern community of Minto, MB.

Chris Vargek

Speaker: Chris Vargek RN, Manager is the Systemic Therapy Program

Chris has been a Registered Nurse for 14 years, spending the entirety of his career with a focus in oncology. After graduating from the University of Manitoba in 2009, Chris spent the next 10 years working in Acute Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplants at Health Science Centre. In early 2020, Chris transitioned to Nurse Educator at CancerCare Manitoba and has since taken over as manager of the Systemic Therapy Program in 2022 where he currently works.

Speaker: Adrian Belinski

Since I was young, I have always wanted to be a nurse!!

I graduated from ACC in 1990 from the LPN program.  Worked for a year and returned to Red River Community College and obtained my RN diploma in 1992. 

I have worked in rural acute, (which gave me experience in all aspects of specialized nursing), LTC, Client Care Coordinator,  part of education teaching the PIECES program, and now I am a Home Care Case Coordinator.  I have enjoyed my career for the last 32 years and hope to work for a few more.

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