Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre Newsletter

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre. As of May 28th, 2021 the Centre will cease to operate and we will no longer be offering our services. WE ARE NOT ACCEPTING ANY NEW REFERRALS. Effective immediately we are only serving our current active clients. Questions can be directed to info@griefcentre.org . Please be patient as there may be delays in replying.

Announcement  |  Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre Newsletter
Once a quarter we share what’s been happening in and around the centre and highlight the stories that make the DJCGC such a special place. Be sure to subscribe to get the newsletter delivered to your inbox.

Scotiabank Marathon Charity Fundraiser | How You Can Help | Volunteer and Donor Shoutouts | Welcome to the Team
Youth Advisory Council | Programming for Fall/Winter | Counselling Services Update | Staff Training Update
Youth Leader in Training Program | Virtual Youth Group | Brief Grief Video Series | 2020 Annual Report

Dr Jay Children's Grief Centre



Dear Friends of the DJCGC,

On behalf of all of us at the DJCGC, our thoughts are with you. We hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and well. Like many of you, we have been doing what we can to support each other and the broader community to navigate this challenging time. Video CallAll of the decisions and activities we’ve undertaken over these last five months have been firmly rooted in our mission and the best interests of our clients, volunteers, staff and wider community.

We continue to be vigilant in the face of health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 in planning our programs and services for the remainder of the 2020-21 fiscal year. We are hard at work shifting our group programs to virtual formats and creating innovative content. We hope to resume limited in-person counselling, and we will be piloting an outdoor group program in the fall.

The pandemic impacted all of us in profound ways. The DJCGC continues to provide services, to re-invent and grow to meet our community’s needs. Now more than ever we need your financial support to help weather this crisis. If you are able, please consider making a donation to help keep our physical and virtual doors open. Contact us at fundraising@griefcentre.org.


Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is going virtual throughout October. This annual event provides a significant fundraising opportunity for the Centre — last year, we raised $65,000! This year, we’re putting together a team of runners/walkers/strollers to participate in a 5 km walk around the Centre (250 Davisville Ave.) on Sunday, October 18th.

Please email fundraising@griefcentre.org to join us.


Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre operates without any government funding and relies on the generosity and support of community members. Please help us continue to provide compassionate care, support and education to grieving children, youth and their families by:

  • Donating
  • Including the Centre in your work place giving or corporate fundraising programs
  • Volunteering on our Fundraising Committee

To learn more, contact fundraising@griefcentre.org.


Volunteer and Donor ShoutoutsWe would like to acknowledge our generous donors for their continued support. Many of you have stuck with us through these tough times, and we can’t thank you enough.

Thanks to our incredible volunteers, who are an essential part of our team. In the interest of public health and safety, our volunteer program is on hold for the foreseeable future. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation or volunteering on our Fundraising Committee fundraising@griefcentre.org.

Our website is outdated and is in desperate need of some TLC. Enter Richard Carmichael, Nadia Hogg, and Miranda Labrash with their brilliant ideas, vision, and hard work. We are so thankful for their contributions, and we are excited to share our new site, which is launching in Fall 2020. An extra special thank you to Miranda for her help with the development of our much-needed volunteer database.

The Fundraising Committee came together in January of 2020 to come up with innovative ideas to help bring in much-needed funds to the Centre.  Chaired by Scott Morrison, we are looking forward to sharing the fruits of the committee’s efforts in the coming months. An extra special shoutout to committee members Marisa Sheff and Alex Welch for their incredible work with content creation and fundraising campaigns. We are very grateful to the rest of our fantastic committee: Adam Brochu, Richard Carmichael, Kathy Marcelline, and Tyler Mercer.

A big thank you to volunteer Patricia Testani, who has developed and delivered financial management workshops for the Centre.

We continue to be inspired by the Centre’s incredible Board of Directors who work tirelessly to ensure our vision and mission are continuously achieved. A very special thank you to Deb Galet, James Hirsch, Jennifer Lancaster, Bobbi Slater, and Arthur

And a special thank you to Susan Zikman-Wise for her ongoing volunteer support in our fundraising work.


A warm welcome and special thanks to our summer students, who will continue to work with the Centre into the fall — Stephanie Au (Human Resources Assistant), Brandon Holmes (Database Analyst), and Samantha O’Leary (Research Analyst) and Ashley Siegel (Research Analyst), who have both joined our Research and Evaluation team.

Our recently established Youth Advisory Council (YAC) includes Antonietta Gutierrez, Hope McMaster, Sullivan Pearson, Hailey Spero, and Karleigh Sutton. The group has been hard at work developing content and resources, as well as providing feedback to strengthen the Centre’s programs and services.


Established in July 2020, the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is made up of five youth who have participated in the Centre’s programming. For the duration of the summer, our team has been working on multiple projects in collaboration with Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre staff and the clinical team.

Our unique group brings a diverse range of perspectives on grief and the challenges of navigating the world after the death of a loved one. Our shared life experiences have empowered us to give a voice to grieving children and youth, through content, resource and program development, and by providing feedback to strengthen the Centre’s services.

We’d love to hear your feedback about the youth experience at the Centre — please email us at YAC@griefcentre.org.

Youth Advisory Council


The Centre is planning some exciting initiatives for group counselling and workshops this fall! We are hopeful we can provide a mix of virtual and physically distanced in-person programming in the fall and will continue to follow government guidance around COVID-19.

  • Our groups for Littles (4-8 years old), Middles (9-12 years old), and Youth (13-18 years old) will run virtually starting in  October/November.
  • The Centre will host virtual Grief Workshops for caregiver/parents of Littles/Middles and Caregivers/Parents of Youth starting in October/November.
  • Virtual Family Nights events will be offered online from September to December 2020.
  • Our Virtual Camp Kindness is rescheduled for early January 2021. Stay tuned for more details.

If you are not currently an existing client and are interested in accessing our counselling services and/or group programs, please visit https://drjaychildrensgriefcentre.ca/eligibility-and-referral or give us a call at 416-360-1111 ext. 222.


Councelling Services UpdateIn mid-March, we realized it wasn’t responsible or safe to have families coming into the Center, and we needed to pivot to virtual services ethically and responsibly. At the same time, we wanted to continue to provide arts- and activity-based counselling.

We had many team meetings, reviewed our files, and reached out to clients. We started working with older children and youth first while also preparing to work with younger children. Some families decided to take a break from counselling until we were open again. Still, as the weeks grew into months, they became more open to virtual services.

It was vital that we didn’t shift how we worked, which has always been very activity-focused, recognizing that most children and youth don’t want to just sit and talk. A tremendous tool we’ve been using is MS Paint during screen sharing. A child can draw themselves, using thought bubbles to convey different feelings and emotions. Our staff has been very innovative with being creative virtually!

It helps to be flexible and acknowledge that this is weird, but we can find our way through together.


Once it was clear the Centre would be closed for in-person visits, our counsellors ramped up their training and professional development around virtual program delivery. Our clinical team participated in many webinars, training sessions and foundations courses on topics including cyber counselling, ethics, and virtual trauma-informed care.

We always want our decisions to be evidence-based and safe. We’re proud of the effort we put into adapting our programming and services, policies, procedures, and consents.

As much as COVID-19 has kept people apart, it’s also brought the team together. We’ve been pulling ideas from international grief networks and peers, as well as contributing to the global knowledge around how we can help. It’s been a beautiful thing in these troubling times.


The 2019-20 Leader in Training (LIT) Program was complicated due to COVID-19 and while we put our camp leadership portion of the program on hold, we continued to facilitate monthly virtual meet-ups.

The LIT group started in November 2019, but in April, our program goal shifted from cultivating leadership skills to supporting feelings of grief and loss that have surfaced amidst a global pandemic. We’ve focused on developing a sense of empowerment so the group has a space to advocate for the kinds of support that resonates and is meaningful.

Recognizing the LITs’ tremendous energy and dedication, the Centre wants to support them, and we plan to connect several cohorts of LITs for in-person leadership training in Spring2021.


We launched an 8-week pilot program in July that facilitates a supportive environment for grieving youth between the ages of 13-18. Our Virtual Youth Group has been meeting weekly throughout the summer. These online sessions allow participants to develop meaningful peer relationships, learn strategies for coping with their grief while reducing stigma and building resiliency. We have learned a lot from conducting this pilot, which is helping us structure our virtual groups moving forward.


The Centre launched the Brief Grief series to provide virtual arts-based therapy to our clients. We generated a list of grief-based activities that were realistic to recreate at home, which focused on developing emotional literacy, coping skills and normalizing grief feelings.

To date, we have produced 18 videos aimed at different age groups. Not only has it been a fun project, but it’s also been an excellent way for our clients to have access to grief support and positive online content.


2020 Annual ReportIn our 2020 annual report, we’re celebrating a special milestone and showcasing how your donations have helped us light a path for children and youth over the past five years.

Visit https://drjaychildrensgriefcentre.ca/annual-reports/ to read all about our accomplishments and our vision for the future.