The TYDE Team

Meet the people behind the project

Self Advocate Consultants

Shameera Rosal - Self Advocate Consultant

Shameera Rosal

Shameera is twenty-three years old. She just finished her fourth year in the Steps Forward Program at UBCO and she is looking forward to her fifth and final year this coming fall.

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In 2018, Shameera trained for and participated in the Special Olympics National Games which were held in Antigonish Nova Scotia. She won a Silver and three personal bests! This year, she was hoping to qualify for the Special Olympics Provincial Games but due to Covid 19, all Special Olympic sports are on hold. She continues to be active in the community: pursing art attending both Cool Arts in Kelowna and the Creative Room in Lake Country. This past year Shameera said good bye to the wonderful folks at the DQ in Lake Country. She began a new part time position at Any Time Fitness, a local gym. She combines working out and employment three days a week. Shameera is very excited by this new opportunity. Shameera also looks forward to the weekly dances at Parkinson Rec. and hanging out with friends.
Jose Figueroa - Self Advocate Consultant

José Figueroa

I completed high school in 2016. In 2017, I spent a year at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in the APPD program. I am currently working at the Langley School Board Office.

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Hello, my name is Jose Figueroa. I currently live at home with my Mom, my Aunt and my two younger sisters in Langley. My favorite things to do in my spare time is drawing and playing computer games. I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4 and have received support from people around my life including my family. I am currently working at the Langley School Board Office. My duties include cleaning the copy rooms, mailroom, and the glass windows. I have always enjoyed working. My first paid job was at Cadenza Controls through Youth Works, Inclusion Langley Society. One of the duties at Cadenza Controls was to assemble the circuit boards by placing parts in specific places. My second paid job was at Tim Hortons in Langley which started as a work experience while attending the APPD program. Duties at Tim Hortons includes going around the dining area to clean up tables, disposing garbage and washing the dishes. I’ve previously worked at Wendell’s True Foods from August 2017 until November 2017. My main duty was to assemble cardboard boxes so that the food can be stored in them, ready to be shipped to different stores. Sometimes I went to the warehouse to pick up shipping supplies such as cardboard boxes, pallets and the pallet wrapper.

Erin Boe, Journalist

Erin Boe

Erin Boe was born in Vancouver and diagnosed with high functioning autism at 3 years old. So, for the most part, she grew up knowing she was autistic.

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She had trouble making friends so was often alone. Now in her early twenties, she graduated from Vancouver’s Langara College with a diploma in journalism in 2015. She was also a member in her college’s kendo club for 2 years.

Read Erin Boe’s full biography

David Johnston - Self Advocate

David Johnston

I work as a casual dispatcher for Golden Cab Company and I do motivation speaking. My role on BC People First is I am the treasurer.

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I like to do motivation speaking a lot more, I like advocating for other diverse ability people who have disabilities who can not speak for them self. My hobbies are bowling, swimming, going to movies, bike riding and etc.
Shameera Rosal - Self Advocate Consultant

Colton Sterling-Moses

Colton Sterling-Moses is a young Indigenous man from the N’lakapmux and Syilx people in Merritt, BC. Colton is a pow-wow dancer, a traditional hand-drummer and a knowledge keeper for his Nations. He is a role-model and an advocate for Indigenous people and youth with disabilities.

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Colton works hard to keep his culture, language and traditions alive! He currently works part-time as a Cultural Support Worker with Feel the Beat and serves as a Self-Advocate for the Transitioning Youth with Disabilities to Employment (TYDE) Project.

Kyle Youmans

Kyle, a 25-year-old with high-functioning autism, has been working and winning awards for a major world-wide package delivery company for 5 ½ years. Hs is a Council member on the South Central Okanagan CLBC council, as well as, the Co-Chair of the successful Okanagan Self-Advocate Group in Kelowna.

 Kaitlin Smith

I am an eighteen-year-old autistic self advocate. Diagnosed at age 6, I have done lots of writing about my experiences and beliefs regarding autism. I have also written a published book called “Take it From the Expert: Sixteen Years of Experience Living on the Autism Spectrum”.

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In my spare time, I enjoy writing fiction. I have written fanfiction as well as a children’s series for my younger brother. Right now, I am working on a play about autism advocacy that I later plan to adapt into a novel. I also enjoy singing, playing Nintendo, and watching the newest series of Pokemon.

TYDE Partner Organizations

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Dr. Rachelle Hole

Lead Researcher

Rachelle Hole is an associate professor at the UBC Okanagan School of Social Work, and she is the co-director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship (CIIC).

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The CIIC is a partnership between the UBC Schools of Social Work and the community living sector (self-advocates, families, organizations); we work to further the inclusion and full citizenship of people with developmental disabilities and their families locally, nationally, and globally through learning, research, and community engagement.

DR. Steven J Barnes

Dr. Steven J. Barnes is well-regarded for his work related to online learning technologies (e.g., the Tapestry Project), student mental health and wellbeing, and bipolar disorder (BD). Steven co-directs the Collaborative RESearch Team to study psychosocial issues in BD (CREST.BD), a BD research and knowledge exchange network which received the 2018 CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Patient Engagement.

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Steven is the recipient of multiple institutional awards for his teaching, including the Killam Teaching Prize. He is also the recipient of the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, the top national award given for teaching in any discipline in any postsecondary institution in Canada. He is also an accomplished author, having published in the fields of epileptology, neurophysiology, student mental health, digital mental health, bipolar disorder, and behavioural neuroscience. He is the co-author of a prominent textbook for the field of behavioural neuroscience, Biopsychology 10th Edition (Pearson). Beyond being a prominent educator, researcher, and author, Steven is also an accomplished artist. He has produced myriad stop-motion animations, interactive and electronic artworks, and digital, oil, and acrylic paintings.

Dr. Joan Bottorff

Dr. Joan L. Bottorff is a Professor in the School of Nursing and Director of the Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, Canada.

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Her current research focuses on developing more inclusive understandings of health behaviour, and the development of gender-sensitive and gender-specific interventions to promote health. She has extensive expertise in qualitative research methods and is currently Editor of Global Qualitative Nursing Research.

Dr. Cameron Crawford

Cameron Crawford (PhD) is an Adjunct Professor with the School for Disability Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto and also teaches with the Disability Studies program at King’s University College in London, Ontario.

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He has taught at York University in Ontario, where he is presently a Postdoctoral Visiting Scholar with the Critical Disability Studies Program. He consults with university-based, NGO and governmental initiatives on disability, human rights and social inclusion and was previously the President and Director of Research at The Roeher Institute and IRIS (Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society).

DR. José F Domene

Dr. José F Domene is a Professor in the counselling psychology specialization area within the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.

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His areas of teaching include career development and counseling, counseling psychology ethics, and qualitative and quantitative research methods. Over the past 15 years, his program of applied research has addressed issues related to the relational contexts of career development, young people’s transition into the workforce, the impact of technological advancement on counselling and career development practice, and professional issues in counselling and counselling psychology in Canada.

Dr. Leyton Schnellert

Dr. Leyton Schnellert is an Associate Professor in UBC’s Department of Curriculum & Pedagogy and Eleanor Rix Professor of Rural Teacher Education.

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His scholarship attends to how teachers and teaching and learners and learning can mindfully embrace student diversity and inclusive education. Dr. Schnellert is the Pedagogy and Participation research cluster lead in UBC’s Institute for Community Engaged Research (ICER) and co-chair of BC’s Rural Education Advisory. His community-based collaborative work contributes a counterargument to top-down approaches that operate from deficit models, instead drawing from communities’ funds of knowledge to build participatory, place-conscious, and culturally responsive practices. Dr. Schnellert has been a middle and secondary school classroom teacher and a learning resource teacher K-12. His books, films, and research articles are widely referenced in local, national, and international contexts.

Dr. Tim Stainton

Tim Stainton is professor and Director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship in the School of Social Work at UBC. He has worked extensively on issues of disability over the past 35 years with a primary focus on policy and practice.

Dr. Robert L. Williamson

Dr. Robert Williamson

Dr. Robert is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in BC, Canada with a focus on research in the area of inclusive practices.

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Robert’s research focuses on the examination of inclusive practices from the perspectives of the diverse student, professional educators and social/governmental systems. These perspectives on inclusive practices individually as well as how they interact are of primary interest.

DR. Alyssa Wise

Alyssa Wise is an associate professor at NYU Steinhardt and the Director of NYU’s Learning Analytics Research Network (NYU-LEARN).

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Her research sits at the intersection of the learning sciences and educational data science, focusing on the design, use and study of technological systems to support learning across broad spectrum of topics and contexts. She holds a particular interest in collaborative learning and the development of online spaces to support conversations and communities.

Dr. Richard Young

Richard A. Young is Professor of Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia, where he holds the Myrne B. Nevison Professorship in Counselling Psychology.

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His current interests include the application of action theory to a variety of topics including the transition to adulthood, families, career development, counselling, developmental disabilities, health, and suicide.

Research Assistants and Staff

Cindy Chapman

Coordinator of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship

The Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship is Canada’s only university-based research centre with a dedicated focus on intellectual disability policy and practice.

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  • LIFELONG LEARNING we are committed to fostering, supporting, and maintaining a culture of lifelong learning to support growth, innovation and excellence.
  • ACCESS everyone needs and has a right to live in a safe and comfortable place that they can call home ~ to engage in meaningful work for fair pay ~ to enjoy reciprocal relationships ~ to have access to public facilities ~ and to live a full life in the community

Aidin Niavarani

TYDE Application Lead Developer

Aidin is a staff in the Department of Psychology at the beautiful Vancouver UBC campus. He has over 12 years of experience in digital strategy, system analysis, user experience research, user interface design, and web and mobile application architecture and development.

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He comes from an industry background, but has also been involved in a myriad of startups in the past where he had led or assisted with digital strategy and development. He has been infatuated by education and learning design since he started his work at UBC in 2016 and is currently applying that knowledge and passion to lead the development of the TYDE application and a few other projects at UBC.

Cherise Lowe

Sandra Polushin

Research Assistant

Sandra Polushin is a faculty member and coordinator with the Disability and Community Studies Department and the Faculty of Child, Family and Community Studies at Douglas College.

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With a passion for people’s human rights, her primary focus is on developing paraprofessional capacity, skills and knowledge in the areas of family support, person-centred planning, community building and employment supports in campus-based, hybrid and online learning environments. Sandra is a PhD student in the Educational Technology and Learning Design Program at Simon Fraser University and is focusing on inclusive online teaching and learning in the post secondary sector for diverse learners, supported through inclusive research practices.

Leilani Forby, MA

Research Assistant

Leilani received her Master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University. She has worked as a behavior interventionist children and adolescents with varying learning disabilities, and as a behavioral coach in programs that target social skills training.

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Leilani is currently a graduate student in psychology at the University of British Columbia, and is focused on the study of both social attention and autism. By working with TYDE, she is able to pursue her passion for helping diverse learners build skills, confidence, and relationships for their academic or employment pursuits. 

Cherise Lowe

Sue Sterling-Bur, MSW, RSW, ECE

Graduate Research Assistant

Sue Sterling-Bur is a doctoral student in Ph.D. Program of Interdisciplinary Studies – Indigenous Studies Theme at The University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus, with Dr. Jeannette Armstrong and Dr. Rachelle Hole as her co-supervisors

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Sue comes from the Nlakap’mux Nation and Sto:lo Nation and is a member of the Dumdehmyoo (Bear) Clan with the Nadleh Whut’en from the Carrier Sekani Nation. Her doctoral research is focused on gaining a better understanding of how ancestral Indigenous stories provide guidance and direction for supporting and working with Indigenous children and youth with disabilities.

Cherise Lowe

Emma Smith


Emma Smith is an undergraduate student at UBC Okanagan with a major in Psychology and a minor in Computer Science.

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She is interested in the research processes of the social sciences and how data analysis can have positive community impacts. Diagnosed with ASD in Grade 6, she has also been involved in the local autism community as a self-advocate. She hopes to continue to work in positions that allow her to take advantage of both her academic and personal expertise.

Cherise Lowe

Emily Giroux, MSc.

TYDE Research Coordinator

Emily received her Master’s degree from UBC Okanagan in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences. Emily’s research interests include disability, knowledge translation, and implementation science.

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She will begin her doctoral studies in September 2020, continuing to work towards ensuring research is meaningfully put into practice for individuals with disabilities.

Jenna Christianson-Barker, MBA

Research Assistant

Jenna Christianson-Barker is faculty at the Douglas College Department of Disability and Community Studies.

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Having spent most of her career supporting initiatives that foster meaningful economic inclusion, Jenna is now pleased to be involved with the TYDE Research Initiative. Jenna currently teaches in the Department of Disability and Community Studies at Douglas College, primarily focusing on courses within the Supported Employment Specialty Program. Previously, as a founding member and Director of Strategic Partnerships and Adult Programming at Pacific Autism Family Network, Jenna led the implementation and delivery of adult employment programming, including the federal initiatives, Ready, Willing & Able and EmploymentWorks Canada. Jenna also has a strong connection to the social enterprise sector, having run a consulting firm that supports employment social enterprises as well as leading a social enterprise café that creates employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. The value of inclusive communities, neurodiversity in the workplace, and the benefits of purpose-driven business are some of the topics Jenna regularly speaks on. Jenna is an alumnus of Pepperdine University’s political science program and holds an MBA from Loyola University, New Orleans.

Video and Animation

Cherise Lowe

Linnea Ritland, BFA.

Lead, TYDE Video and Animation

Linnea Ritland holds a BFA in film production from UBC and has a self-taught background in animated instructional videos. Her work as a writer/director, including the award-winning short “Violet and June”, can be seen at

Cherise Lowe

Daphinie Situ

Assistant Animator

Daphinie Situ is an undergraduate student at UBC majoring in Biology. She assists with animation and graphics for the TYDE project.

Cherise Lowe

Kim Nipp

User Design and Animation Assistant

Kim is a designer, illustrator, and animator at UBC. Originally trained in neuroscience, Kim moved onto complete a MSc. Biomedical Communications and become a medical illustrator. You can find more of their work at


Cherise Lowe

Jed Weiss

Voice Actor

Jed Weiss is a Vancouver based actor and musician. He provided the voice of Ka-Blam.

Cherise Lowe

Spencer Soares

Voice Actor and Charactor Animator

Spencer Soares is a self-described “sensiboy”, with “a soft heart and softer hair”. Spencer voices Chico, designed the characters, and gave them life through his animation

Cherise Lowe

Jaclyn Loewen

Background Designer

Jaclyn Loewen is a freelance illustrator, with training in animation and design through Capilano University’s 2D Animation Program. She specializes in illustration, layout, and character design. More of her work can be seen at

Cherise Lowe

Justin Murray

Composer and Voice Actor

Justin Murray holds a diploma in Advanced Music Production from Nimbus School of Recording Arts. He enjoyed composing the music for TYDE and voicing Maximum Blue and The Wise Isodore. You can find more of his work at

Cherise Lowe

Rachael Whitehead

Storyboard Artist

Rachael is a scientific illustrator and animator with a Masters of Science degree in Biomedical Communications from the University of Toronto.

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She strives through her work at taking complex, technical concepts and creating visuals that are easier to understand, yet still accurate. She has worked on projects ranging from healthcare to natural history in subject matter. For the TYDE project, Rachael helps with sketching storyboards for the animations. Further examples of her work can be viewed at:

Cherise Lowe

Shona Struthers

Voice Actor

Shona Struthers is the voice of Blort. Shona is a theatre and film actor-combatant based in Vancouver, BC! Recent theatre credits include: Mother of the Maid (Pacific Theatre), Soul Samurai (Affair of Honor) and The Wolves (With a Spoon/Rumble).

Cherise Lowe

Natalie Backerman

Voice Actor

Natalie is a proud hapa artist born and raised in Vancouver. Her passion for the arts led her to completing the Musical Theatre program at Capilano University, attending summer acting intensives at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and attaining her Bachelor of Fine Arts from UBC.

Cherise Lowe


Voice Actor

Hailing from Treaty 7 Territory, Heidi first auditioned for “Crocodile” in her junior high production of Peter Pan and she’s been hooked ever since. She is honored and elated to be the voice of Detective Minimum Maroon for TYDE.

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Other select acting credits include: Mustard (The Arts Club/Belfry Theatre), New Canadian Kid (Green Thumb Theatre), She Kills Monsters, and The Crucible (UBC Theatre). She has a BFA in Acting from UBC Theatre and enjoys playing with stuffed animals in her free time.