It is with great sadness that we let you know that Debbie Hébert, our cherished friend and colleague in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, passed away in the evening of March 19 from cancer. As you can imagine, our department is devastated.
Debbie was an inspirational clinician, teacher, researcher and colleague both at U of T and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. She will be deeply missed as a friend, leader, mentor and colleague.
Debbie practiced as an OT for more than 40 years, completing her OT training at the University of Western Ontario and graduate studies at the University of Waterloo. She taught in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy for more than 25 years. Her passion was neurorehabilitation: she was a leader in this area through her outstanding education of students and clinicians, as well as numerous publications and implementation of research. Debbie has been described as an ideal enabler of knowledge translation, as she was the “bridge” who enabled integration of research and daily practice.
Debbie has had a tremendous impact on the profession of OT in many ways. From very early in her professional career, she led the way for best practice by chairing professional interest groups and establishing best-practice groups. She led a group of more than 40 interprofessional clinicians and researchers for the 2015 update of the Canadian stroke best practice recommendations, integrating her exceptional clinical and research expertise. Her work has contributed to policy development, provided practical tools for clinicians and client education, and transformed the practice of countless student OTs, OTAs and OTs over the years as well as colleagues in other health professions.
Debbie’s teaching was always informed by her commitment to best practice. She worked tirelessly to ensure that her OT students and, through continuing education courses, OT professionals were provided with the most up to date knowledge and skills that allow them to provide the best possible therapy to their clients. Her teaching has influenced over 3000 individuals. Many who learned from Debbie and benefited her mentorship and have gone on to become leaders themselves. Her contributions to the profession of OT were honoured in 2012 with a life-time membership to the Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists. This is one of many accolades she has received.
Those of us who have had the good fortune to be friends and colleagues of Debbie remember her for her enormous generosity of spirit, her warmth, love, caring and of course her smile, humour and contagious laughter.
We are in the process of planning ways to honour Debbie’s life and legacy and a celebration of her life will be held at a later date when we are able to gather. Details of these will be shared when they are available.
Debbie will be greatly missed by many – please take a moment to remember her and because we know this would make her smile, a brief lyric from Springsteen’s Land of Hope and Dreams.
Big wheels rolling through fields
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams
Deirdre R. Dawson
Interim Chair, Department of Occupational Science &Occupational Therapy
Year 2 OT (Class of 2019) student Janany Jeyasundaram is a recipient of the 2019 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award. This award, established in 1994, recognizes students’ outstanding extracurricular contributions while at the University of Toronto. Janany spoke with me about her perspectives on leadership and her leadership activities as an occupational therapy student.
What motivates you to take on leadership roles?
As the daughter of refugees, I have a strong sense of being between two worlds — the world of my parents in their homeland, which I have imbibed and internalized, and the world I was born into, where I do not fully belong. I have witnessed legacies of trauma both in my personal circles and in my role as an occupational therapy student. My identities and experiences have shaped my perspectives on how humans experience occupations within the opportunities and constraints of social and cultural circumstances. Throughout my occupational therapy education, I actively sought leadership opportunities to further my understanding of equity and move the profession towards greater inclusion of vulnerable populations.
Tell me about the leadership role(s) you are most proud of, and why.
This year, I established the Student Inclusion Diversity Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee, which is a student-led group with the vision to move towards a more equitable learning environment for OS & OT learners. To actualize this vision, we leverage our collective experiences and knowledge to plan and implement equity initiatives that foster new learning and personal growth. For example, in partnership with experts, the Student IDEA Committee was able to host the department’s first ever Black Futures Month event in February of 2019. The two-part workshop addressed the specific role occupational therapists can play to identify disparities and better meet the needs of Black populations. This leadership role has been the most rewarding for me because it allowed me the opportunity to learn from and contribute to our collective development as change agents—a core competency needed in work with vulnerable populations.
What advice or support can you give to students who would like to be active leaders but are unsure how to get started?
My advice would be to make use of the opportunities and supports available to you. It is easy to get stuck on the next assignment or test, but if you take the time to actively participate in existing student initiatives or seek out your own non-traditional opportunities, you will be a better clinician for it. Your involvement will likely challenge you to think critically about social norms that shape individual experiences, power relations between clients and therapists, and biases within our profession and professional education. During my involvement with the Diversity and Inclusion Curriculum Theme Committee, I recognized the opportunity to establish placement opportunities with a sociocultural focus for OS & OT students, in collaboration with the department’s fieldwork coordinators. The support I received in pursuing this endeavor enabled my personal and professional growth, and increased my comfort to interrogate assumptions and create ways for everyone to participate.
Do you have any role models who supported and encouraged your leadership capabilities, and if so, what did they do to support you?
The key to my growth as a leader was being in an environment filled with teachers and peers that truly wanted me to thrive. One such individual is Dr. Barry Trentham, who exemplified the importance of acting from a foundation of compassion and respect. He valued a process that involved ongoing dialogue and active listening, which minimized power differentials between faculty and students. While working on various committees and research projects with Dr. Trentham, I felt that I could affect meaningful change, which was powerful to experience as a student. The compassion and respect modeled by Dr. Trentham in his work with faculty and students alike encouraged my own leadership capabilities and informed my leadership approach.
How did it feel to be nominated for this award, and to be a recipient?
I feel grateful for the opportunities I have had in this program to do meaningful work alongside inspiring people. This nomination has instilled a confidence and motivation in me to continue to do this work and advance the profession towards greater equity and inclusion.
Teaching opportunities for our clinical community partners are now posted, for both St. George (downtown) and UTM campuses. A description of each opportunity, and contact information for the course instructors, is posted at Clinical Community & Continuing Education-Teaching Opportunities. If you hold a status only or adjunct lecturer appointment, your service will contribute to your appointment hours.
Do you know an OT who would be a great mentor for the Building Practice through Mentorship course? Each OT mentor works with a small group of students to build reflective practice skills and support professional development throughout the two years of the Occupational Therapy program. Mentors are experienced OTs who are exemplary role models, have strong group facilitation skills, and are nominated by colleagues or past students.
Make a nomination by emailing the course coordinators (see below) with the name and email of the proposed mentor, and a short statement of why you think they would be a great mentor.
Mentors will be selected for the St. George campus and the UT Mississauga campus.
Please contact the Mentorship Course Coordinators for more information or to make a nomination.
To all applicants for initial and renewal status-only and adjunct appointments:
Due to the technical difficulties we experienced with the Laserfiche system, which is presently back online, we have extended the application deadlines as follows:
Initial Appointment Applications due January 15, 2018 (January 22, 2018)
Renewal Appointment Applications due January 31, 2018 (February 7, 2018)
We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and we appreciate your patience in this matter.
The Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is currently accepting applications for INITIAL and RE-APPOINTMENT for Status-Only and Adjunct Appointments for the term beginning July 1, 2018. We invite you to apply.
The deadline for submitting your INITIAL application is JANUARY 15, 2018 and for RE-APPOINTMENT, JANUARY 31, 2018. Please note that late applications will NOT be considered.
The academic goals of the Rehabilitation Sciences Sector cannot be met without the participation of talented individuals from many institutions and agencies outside of the university. The aim of Status-Only and Adjunct Appointments is to recognize the participation of highly qualified and dedicated researchers, practitioners and members of the community in the academic and clinical education components of the programs. These appointees augment the efforts and expertise of the full-time departmental faculty. We are seeking appointees who:
• maintain a high level of expertise and competence in their disciplines;
• are skilled at communicating expertise to members of their respective disciplines and the broader health care community;
• can stimulate, challenge and develop the scholarly and clinical capacity of students; and,
• contribute to the growth of the discipline by building the body of knowledge or advancing the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of practice.
Professor Fleming is Head of Occupational Therapy at The University of Queensland, Australia.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Queensland in 1987 with a Bachelor
of Occupational Therapy with first class honours and a university medal. After working
clinically in brain injury rehabilitation for several years, she completed her PhD in 1996
as a Menzies scholar.
Her research aims to improve the lives of people with brain
impairment by understanding psychosocial and cognitive limitations arising from
neurological injury and discovering effective rehabilitation methods. Focus areas are
self-awareness impairment, memory rehabilitation, meaningful occupation and the
transition from hospital to home.
Her work is clinically based, interdisciplinary and
translational. It has been widely disseminated via more than 200 publications and
workshops and webinars for clinicians. Jennifer’s research has been funded by
competitive national grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council and
the Australian Research Council.
For more information, please contact: Debbie.Hebert@uhn.ca
Rehabilitation Sciences Building
500 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7
Tel: (416) 597-3422, ext. 3505
Jeff Crukley, PhD.
Senior Research Scientist, Starkey Hearing Technologies;
Adjunct Lecturer, University of Toronto, Department of Speech-Language Pathology
Jeff Crukley is a Senior Research Scientist at Starkey Hearing Technologies. He earned his M.Sc. in audiology in 2007 and his Ph.D. in Hearing Science in 2011. Jeff completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Brain & Mind Institute at Western University and worked as a clinical audiologist in private practice. He engages in research on naturalistic approaches to understanding auditory ecology, and the relationships between hearing loss, cognition, and technological innovations. As adjunct faculty, Jeff enjoys mentoring students and teaching in the field of hearing science.