Our peer-learning opportunities are based around the following principles:

  •  Mentorship is relational; we learn and thrive by interacting with others
  • People don’t need to be empowered, they are already powerful
  • We have different expertise, knowledge, and experiences; we are all learning together
  • People need opportunities and exposure to new ideas to come further into their power
  • We are peers walking alongside each other. We are courageous when we speak and, also, when we listen

These key principles were developed under the leadership of Jay Pitter Placemaking.

Peer-Learning Opportunity

Mentorship Program

Since 2021, the HCI team at the Canadian Urban Institute has offered a mentorship program in collaboration with our team of partners. To-date, this program has supported the work of over 50 organizations funded under the Healthy Communities Initiative. The Mentorship Program provides an opportunity to work with an experienced practitioner one-on-one over three months to explore ideas or challenges together. The Mentorship Program provides an opportunity to nurture a shared space for inquiry and exploration that can evolve and grow over time.

How Does It Work?

2.5 hours of individual mentorship over three months

Virtual/phone, flexible and responsive to your needs

No associated costs

For practitioners Canada-wide

Applications for the May to July 2023 Mentorship Cohort are now closed. If you are interested in joining a future cohort, sign-up for the monthly newsletter for updates or send us an email and let us know about your interest!

Peer-Learning Opportunity

Small Group Discussions

With the collaboration of our Mentors and other experienced practitioners, we host sessions with 8-12 participants aimed at connecting practitioners and sharing experiences and challenges. These sessions are facilitated by one of our Mentors or by a project lead with experience working on a certain topic/area.  Some of the topics/themes that we are exploring collectively include urban farming, open streets, evaluation and learning, collaboration, and more

How Do They Work?

8-12 Participants

1.5 hours of virtual convening with a facilitator

Focus on specific themes / topics

For practitioners Canada-wide

Would you be interested in joining upcoming sessions? Join the mailing list to learn more!

Would you like to propose a topic for a Small Group Discussion that you would like to host? Reach out to our team to explore opportunities: healthycommunities@canurb.org

Mentorship Information Session

Mentorship information sessions are held at the beginning of each cohort. They are a great way to learn more about the program, meet the mentors, and map out next steps. The Mentorship Information Session for this cohort has passed. However, if you would like to learn more about project mentorship, send us an email!

Meet the Mentors and Hosts

Ewa Jackson

Managing Director @ ICLEI Canada

Ewa is the Managing Director of ICLEI Canada. Ewa’s particular field of interest is in the area of climate communications, and how effective and targeted communications can be used to move forward with the implementation of adaptive actions. She has worked with municipal governments in the fields of sustainability, public participation, and climate change.

Catherine Craig-St-Louis

Urban Planner @ Vivre en Ville

Catherine is an urban planner interested in the social and collective aspects of urban life. She is passionate about connecting people and ideas and helping collectives express shared narratives and stories in their living environments. She is responsible for the Gatineau office for Vivre en Ville and the Regional Lead of the Canadian Urban Institute in Quebec.

Jerry Koh

Impact & Systems Change @ The Nice Futures

Jerry is a systems innovation and systemic design leader. He work with purpose-driven organizations to address complex challenges in communities and cities, including inclusive smart cities, community wellbeing and growth, youth development, and poverty. He has extensive experience developing strategic partnerships, bringing together coalitions, and building capacities, to develop, test and implement solutions.

Lanrick Bennett Jr.

Executive Director @ The Laneway Project

Lanrick is the Executive Director of The Laneway Project. He is an advocate for social programs and urban cycling infrastructure. He has extensive experience working with public, private, and community-level stakeholders to transform neglected public spaces into complete, living public places by building collaborative teams, implementing best practices and catalyzing policy changes.

Mash Salehomoum

Vancouver Project Manager @ Park People

Mash is passionate about balancing the needs of different groups of people while maintaining the integrity of natural environments. She has experience working in resource management and communications with community groups and local administrations in BC. She has been part of Park People for over four years, helping advance towards a more equitable distribution of park investments.

Megan Meaney

Executive Director @ ICLEI Canada

Megan is recognized by cities across Canada as an authority on municipal sustainability. She is the Executive Director of ICLEI Canada and has held many roles in strategic energy planning, climate mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, as well as sustainability management. Megan has shared her experiences by serving on steering committees with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canadian Standards Association, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Urban Institute and QUEST.

Rachel Yanchyshyn

Program Manager @ Park People

Rachel is a Program Manager with Park People, supporting the growth of the National Network through the administration and promotion of several granting programs and extensive outreach efforts to groups across Canada. She has been a lifelong park user, from running through Toronto’s ravines as a child, exploring parks across Ontario and Canada through the years, and currently rediscovering the joys of these urban spaces with her own children. Her extensive work experience has included a wide variety of fields, including food security, environmental non-profit, education, and community building.

Sarah Juma

Project Manager @ CCNDR

Sarah s a Project Manager at the Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience (CCNDR). Passionate about technology, entrepreneurship and wellbeing she brings a broad range of experiences and an entrepreneur and, also as an advocate committed to supporting underrepresented tech talent and entrepreneurs on their journey.

Shannon Lawrence

Project Manager @ 8 80 Cities

Shannon Lawrence is a Project Manager at 880 Cities. She is an urban designer and community development planner who has spent more than a decade working in collaboration with communities across the globe. She has extensive experience managing projects and developing policy, working with citizen groups, local governments and NGO’s.

Tania Cheng

she / they

Tania Cheng works with social impact organizations to find strategic clarity, design services and processes, and facilitate change through the lenses of innovation and design thinking, systems thinking, liberatory practice, and inclusion. Tania’s work is informed by 15 years of experience in leadership roles advancing youth engagement, climate action, gender equity, and entrepreneurship.


Yonatan Ghebray

Senior Director of Evaluation, Learning and Quality Improvement @ NABC

Yonatan brings a wealth of experience in community health, community development, community-based research & evaluation, evaluative capacity building and culture of inquiry-based learning. He held various positions in non-profit and funding organizations; designed and taught community development practices, grant writing, and program evaluation courses in college; and provided consulting services in evaluative capacity and culture building. Currently Yonatan Ghebray works with NABC’s team and strategic partners to build and enhance data and evaluation capacity of Black-led, Black-focused, and Black-serving organizations through innovative learning strategies to advance systems change.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cost associated with participating in these activities?

There is no cost associated with joining the Mentorship Program or participating in Small Group Discussions, these activities free of charge.

Are these activities related to the evaluation of the Healthy Communities Initiative funding?

No, the mentorship program and the small group discussions are NOT related to the evaluation of projects or the reporting that projects submit at the end of the HCI funding program. These activities are aimed to support your project implementation and, also, to enable the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with other practitioners from across the country.

Who is eligible for this Mentorship Program?

Any organization that was eligible to apply for the Healthy Communities Initiative can apply to this Mentorship Program. This includes non-profit organizations, Indigenous Governing Bodies, Municipalities and Municipally-owned organizations among others [all details can be found on Page 5 of this document] . We encourage all organizations interested in the Mentorship Program to apply!

What is the time commitment expected from those who join the Mentorship Program?

The Mentorship Program is very flexible, so it is up to projects to decide in collaboration with mentors how they want to get involved during the three month period that projects have access to their mentors. Typically mentors are introduced to projects and have 2.5 hours available to schedule for meetings. If additional time is needed, we can chat about possibilities for more time for exchanges.

How do mentors and mentees connect?

The mentorship program is entirely virtual! However, before or during your first mentorship meeting, we suggest touching-base with your mentor about which communication platform works best for you. If video chatting isn’t an option, mentors can meet by phone.

How is the match between mentors and mentees made?

The matching is done based on your responses to our  Mentorship Survey. In the survey you can indicate who would be your preferred mentor to work with. The survey takes 5-7 minutes to respond and will allow you to share a bit more about where you are at, and the topics that you would like to touch on with your mentor. These responses to these questions will help us also facilitate the matching process between mentors and mentees.

How do Small Group Discussions work?

The Small Group Discussions are virtual sessions that last 1.5h and are framed around specific themes or topics (e.g. urban agriculture or learning and evaluation). Registering for Small Group Discussions works first-come, first-serve therefore we encourage participants to register as soon as possible. You can stay updated about upcoming sessions through our community calendar or through our newsletter.

Do the participants of the Small Group Discussions get the opportunity to work together in the longer term?

That’s the idea! With this purpose in mind, we check in with participants from past sessions and facilitate the regathering of the group if there is interest. These follow-up sessions are NOT exclusive for the participants for the first session, but we invite them a couple of days before the session becomes public on our website to help them secure a spot if they are interested in attending.

Can I propose a topic for a Small Group Discussion if I am interested in connecting with other practitioners in my field of work?

 Yes! If you would like to engage with projects working in a specific area/field/topic, reach out to our team and let us know so that we can ideate together how we can make it happen.

If I apply to the Mentorship Program, am I guaranteed a spot?

No, a spot is not guaranteed. However, projects that requested mentorship but don’t get the opportunity to join this cohort will be prioritized in future cohorts of the mentorship program.

Our inbox is always open! If you have a question about the mentorship program or the small group discussions please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly at healthycommunities@canurb.org.