Summer at Pine River: Every June at Pine River, turtles emerge from our large pond and climb the steep grassy hill to find a spot to dig and lay their eggs under ground.  Students spotted this turtle searching for a suitable spot to lay her eggs.  We have been monitoring the area eagerly waiting for her babies to hatch and crawl the long journey back to the pond.

THE EPIC TEAM CHALLENGE - RESCHEDULED! Hello everyone!    With the momentum of our Making of a Home capital campaign, and the enthusiasm for making the Epic Team Challenge truly EPIC, we have decided to reschedule the event for Spring/Summer 2012.  We’re so excited about the response so far, and the new, exciting ideas that have come to the table.  THANK YOU for your support!  If you have already expressed interest in volunteering, we will be in touch with you shortly to discuss how you might like to be involved as we prepare for the event.  If you haven’t responded, you still can!  We have a growing committee of volunteers who will work together on planning/design, sponsorship, entertainment, ‘teaser’ events, and lots of other fun stuff.  You can email for more info.  Registration and details of the event will be available in the fall.  GET READY! 

Child Health Journal, and interview with Karen Minden

This journal is a really good resource on current thinking in child and youth health, with a particular focus on mental health in this issue and contributions from some of our favourite people - Simon Davidson! Deb Peplar! Sam Yamada! Mary Jo Haddad!  Scroll down to the last article, “Faith in the goodness of people,” for Gail Donner’s interview with Karen Minden.


As Pine River Institute approaches its fifth anniversary of helping teens and families who are struggling with serious substance use problems, we are pleased to announce that on Sunday September 25, 2011, Pine River Institute and Chico Racing will be launching ”The Epic Team Challenge”, an exciting outdoor trail event to help raise funds and awareness for Pine River. This event will allow teams of family members, friends, colleagues, and supporters to come together for a day of connecting, fitness, entertainment, and laughter while helping to raise the bar for adolescent mental health and addiction treatment in Canada.

The Location - Glen Haffy Conservation Area (near Orangeville)

The event follows some of Ontario’s most beautiful terrain.  Less than an hour up Airport Road from Toronto, these 800 acres of buried escarpment showcase the breathtaking natural landscape and vistas over the Caledon hills. The park is a mix of rocky slabs, verdant hills, and pine and deciduous forests - a dramatic autumn backdrop for the event.

The Epic Team Challenge

Participants will work in teams for a day of outdoor adventure while completing a series of mental and physical challenges situated throughout the conservation area.

We Need Your Help!

We’re currently looking for:

1) Volunteers to help with organizing the event

2) Sponsors (cash and in-kind) to support the event

Some sponsorship areas we’re looking for include:

                       Food and Beverage

                       Donations for Prizes


                       Items for participant grab bags

                       Print media (banners, paper)

                       Communications and media

3) Quirky and fun ideas for challenges that could take place on the course.

If you are interested in volunteering, if you have any connections or interest in sponsorship, or you’ve got an idea about a potential challenge for the course, please contact Sam Yamada at

Mark your calendars, tell your friends and family!

Invite your family, your friends, and your colleagues to join you on Sunday September 25th 2011 for the first ever Epic Team Challenge.

Together, we can raise awareness and support for Pine River Institute so that young people and families struggling with serious substance use have somewhere to turn for help and Pine River can continue to push the envelope in the design and evaluation of innovative adolescent mental health and addictions treatment in Canada.

Pine River Students Vote in the Federal Election

All Pine River students will have the opportunity to vote in Canada’s Federal Election. Last Tuesday morning we brought nine Pine River students to the Elections Canada office in Orangeville. Each of these students was able to vote by Special Ballot in their home riding. The students who have not yet reached the age of majority will participate in Student Vote, a national program that runs a parallel election for students under the voting age, coinciding with official election periods. The purpose is to provide young Canadians with an opportunity to experience the democratic process firsthand and practice the habits of informed and engaged citizenship.

The numbers: 11 students voting in the Federal Election, 17 students participating in Student Vote program

It is inspiring to see young people so interested and enthusiastic about the democratic process! Don’t miss the chance to have your voice heard – VOTE TODAY!

Welcome to Kate Genest - new intern!

We are pleased to announce that Kate Genest has been awarded an SLS Public Interest Fellowship to intern at Pine River for 12 weeks this summer.

Every year, the SLS sponsors 2 to 3 first-year or second- year JD students from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law to pursue work in a public interest setting. The fellowships are meant to support students working for public interest community-based organizations in Canada. Kate will be working primarily with senior management out of the Toronto office.

Kate is just completing first year law school at the University of Toronto. This Fellowship is a great honour for Kate, and a wonderful asset to Pine River Institute. 

Pine River awarded CIHR grant

Pine River Institute, in collaboration with the LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research at York University, and the The Community Health Systems Resource Group (CHSRG) at SickKids Hospital has been awarded a grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR Meetings, Planning and Dissemination Grant: Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (Fall 2010 Competition).   This funding will support a collaborative workshop in 2011:  Building a Community of Practice in Adolescent Addiction and Mental Health Treatment’ that will focus on current literature, treatment success indicators, outcome evaluation, and knowledge mobilization.  We are excited about working with our distinguished partners in the endeavour.

Playing hockey on our skating rink

Team 3 had a group field trip - gymnastics!

Snowy day at the school

Pine River was awarded the Metro Green Apple Grant!

This initiative from Metro was created to encourage students to participate in the development of a healthier environment.  Here at Pine River we will be putting the funds towards our school garden with a project titled: “Backyard Bounty: Growing Food at School”.  We plan to increase the amount of food produced in our school garden and greenhouse in order to provide the school kitchen with vegetables and herbs grown right here on site.  Now that’s eating local!


More info about the grant here:

The Skating rink was completed in record time!  John Killen (aka the skunk whisperer) worked day and night with students and staff to complete the skating rink - in 5 Days! They have been enjoying the rink since early December.  A special thanks from John to Brendan and the students for their help getting it ready!

The Mental Health Stamp Design Competition - Check it out! From the Canada Post website: “For the first time in history, Canada Post is asking Canadians to submit and vote on the design that will become a Canadian postage stamp. From November 8, 2010 until January 10, 2011, Canadians are invited to submit designs online to The submission that proves most popular online will become one of 20 semi-finalists to be submitted to Canada Post’s Stamp Advisory Committee (SAC). One of those designs will become the 2011 Mental Health stamp. Stamp designs are seen by millions of Canadians; they have incredible power to invite conversation. We’re asking entrants to convey important themes about mental health in a single image and make the winning stamp an ambassador for awareness. The SAC will choose five designs from the 20 semi-finalists. These five designs will be voted on by the public from February 14 to March 14. The winning design will be announced in April 2011.” For more info and to vote for your favourite, click here:

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!  From all of us at Pine River.

Staff and students have begun building the skating rink at our school campus.

An Introduction to Somatic Experiencing (SE) Workshop

Tuesday January 4, 2011 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM at our School Campus. 

Registration now open.  Space is Limited.  $35 for the 3 hour workshop, lunch, HST included.

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-oriented approach to the resolution of traumatic stress, based on the belief that our nervous systems inherently know how to return to balance if given the right support. This work was developed by Dr. Peter Levine, author of the best selling book, “Waking The Tiger.” The workshop will provide an introduction to the concepts from neurobiology on which SE is based, to the skills necessary to facilitate this natural process, and a description of the SE professional training.

About Catherine Fallis, PhD., R.C.C., SEP
Catherine has been a body-oriented and expressive arts therapist for over 20 years in Vancouver, both in private practice and in the public school system. She completed her SE professional training in 2004, and has assisted at trainings in Canada, the U.S. and Hong Kong. She completed doctoral studies in Somatic Psychology and Expressive Arts Therapy at the California Institute of Integral Studies, in San Francisco.

Register Online now

Visiting Georgian College

This week, Pine River students visited Georgian College in Barrie. Students met various Georgian College staff including Gary Harris from the Tool & Die program, Greg Merrall from the Jewelry and Metals departments, and Randi McDermott from the Paramedic and Personal Support Worker  programs.  This week’s outing is part of Pine River’s programming that equips students with the necessary skills and information to plan out their post-secondary education.  In addition to this recent college tour, students have the opportunity to meet with College and University reps, take interest profiles and career suitability questionnaires, learn about apprenticeships and entrepreneurial programs, participate in resume writing workshops, as well as participate in volunteer work and job shadowing. 

Girl Conference

Yesterday some of Pine River Institute’s female students attended the Fearless Tiger Girl’s Conference.  Conference topics included: self-defense, sexual assault prevention, abusive relationships, party safety and more.  Students were able to meet other young women and learn about women’s safety from a variety of perspectives including: survivors of abuse, frontline professionals, safety experts and female recoding artists that have been touched by violence.

This Girl’s Conference was originally created by Paul Henry and The White Tiger Group to commemorate December 6th. 1989 This date is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, this day coincides with the sad anniversary of the death of 14 women who were tragically killed on December 6, 1989 at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal. Beyond commemorating the loss of these fourteen young lives, this day represents a time to pause and reflect on the phenomenon of violence against women in our society

The Pine River Institute students who attend this conference will organize events to commemorate the December 6th National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.  This was they will be able to share some of their learnings with the larger Pine River community. 

How we remember

Today the staff and students of Pine River Institute commemorated Remembrance Day with a touching ceremony.  Students recited poems including In Flanders’ Fields and Goodbye Young Soldier.  One student shared a poignant letter from her grandmother chronicling her experiences of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia and the Holocaust.   

It was a beautiful ceremony that honored and acknowledged the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and civilians in times of war.

Remember music therapist Ed ‘Special Ed’ Roman? Here he is with two students trying out our new bass guitar, acoustic guitar, and amps, recently purchased thanks to a generous donation in support of our creative arts programming!  These are a great addition to the weekly music therapy groups, individual music instruction, and now, the student band!