Speakers

JEN VERSCHEURE

Hi, I’m Jen. Thanks for taking a peek at my bio. When I was asked to write one, it occurred to me that I could write something much more interesting than what I do, whether or not I have kids, what my hobbies are, what I’ve done in the past, what my goals are for the future, whether I’m accomplished in any cool things like martial arts or photography. I thought to myself, there must be something valuable I can write that will really hit home with these people…something that will reach deep into their souls and make them want to keep this Connection Project Program and store it in their “memory box”. I thought about what may be the most interesting things about me that I could share in the 250 words I’m allotted. But then I thought: “Hey! Why not use this space for something profound and earth-shattering”?! I thought about it for quite some time actually. After all, it’s not every day that one gets the opportunity to participate on stage for such a worthy cause, nor is it every day an opportunity arises to script a bio that many folks in the audience will read (or use to put their chewed gum in). I thought, YES! I’m going to break the mold and do something different with MY program space! I’ll be unique and will stand out from all the other participants. Oh…wait a minute…I think I’ve used up all my…

RHONDA UNDERWOOD

Rhonda Underwood is a 52-year-old mother of 3 boys James 26, Zane 18, and Ryder 9. The youngest of 15 children from parents George and Geraldine Underwood of Tsawout First Nation in Saanich. Rhonda has resided in the beautiful Quw’utsun valley for the past 8 years and works for Quw’utsun Syuw’entst Lelum in the transportation department. She has spent most of her 30 working years in First Nations Education as an advocate, support worker, and education assistant. Her best experiences have been working with special needs children. Rhonda enjoys long walks, working out, swimming with her son Ryder, reading, writing, and loves documentaries, romantic and suspenseful movies.

JOSEPH EDWARD BRIANTE

Joseph Edward Briante is a healing artist and a first-year student at the Centre for Sport & Exercise Education at Camosun College.  He’s a Taurus, lifelong Jedi, yogi, CrossFitter, mover, dancer, learner, neuroplastician, flâneur, bricoleur, bon vivant, recreational baritone and aspiring polyglot.  He loves being an uncle, sitting in circle, going deep over coffee and house music.

MICHELE FRINK

Michelle Frink is a mother to three lovely children, whom she affectionately calls The Littles.  Michelle was the mother of Kayden, too. He was born in 1996 when Michelle was 18 yrs. old. Sadly, he chose to take his own life in August of 2018.  The passing of Kayden has become a catalyst for Michelle to further understand her relationship with grief. Michelle found solace in writing to Kayden on his Facebook page, and her words have spread to the hearts of many. Her posts to Kayden speak to her endless love, and to the very human process of releasing emotions and allowing growth to happen. Her unique perspectives on life, loss, and relationships emerge from her life-long fascination and skills as an intuitive. Or, Interpreter of Energy Dynamics as she likes to describe it. She is also a published author through Cosmic Awareness Communications.  She provides intuitive readings and is passionate about her study of energy dynamics. Michelle’s life experiences reflect her intense and insightful perspective; giving her a presence that is warm and moving. She enjoys playing with her children, writing, providing readings, teaching, public speaking and sharing her love of observing energy. Michelle and her family, adore the PNW and love to travel to visit new places too. Michelle follows the work of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD., Kyle Cease, Brene’ Brown, Ed Stracher, and Matt Kahn.

MEGAN SUPERNAULT

Megan Supernault was born in Calgary, Alberta but has lived most of her life on Vancouver Island. As an Indigenous woman of mixed ancestry (Cree/Scottish), she has struggled with her identity, not fully knowing where she belongs. In January 2016, after years of suffering, she went to her doctor and therapist where she was diagnosed with Severe Depression, Anxiety, and Panic Disorder. Having been overweight for most of her life, and putting on more weight due to the medication she decided to take a year to focus on her health, changing her life. Losing 136lbs she now has a new lease on life, continuing therapy, but using exercise to help with her anxiety, and panic disorder. Fitness has given her a new perspective on life, using health and wellness as a form of self-love. Through the Connection Project, she hopes to inspire others, by showing them what is possible and letting them know they are not alone in this battle. As a mother of 2, who has dedicated her life to raising her children, she has learned that you can’t pour from an empty cup and that by taking care of herself she is taking care of her family. Currently attending the University of Victoria taking the W, SENĆOŦEN IST Indigenous Language Revitalization Program, she is learning her children and husband’s language. She hopes to give her children a sense of identity that she never had, believing that through language this is possible. She is a strong advocate for Indigenous Language Revitalization and hopes to learn her own language one day.

JOHN CLOSE

John George Close (the George is silent) is a small business owner and co-hosts the podcast, Obstacle Course, with his good friend Andrew Langford. John is also a father of three grown kids and one adult wife. When he’s not running his business or recording his popular podcast, John’s writing his bio, running up local mountains and devouring great cinema/ salty foods. Despite his bad humour, John has a great story of losing his faith, himself, and his journey there and back again. **Edit this part**- that’s literally The Hobbit. John feels incredibly humbled and honoured to have this opportunity to share his story and thinks The Connection Project is the most important stage around. 

EMILY OLSEN–Founder, Director, Host, Speaker.

Emily Olsen is the founder of the Connection Project, an annual event exploring mental health through storytelling. Emily facilitates the Magic Series Workshops, a series exploring magic in the every-day through various themes such as worthiness, gratitude, and kindness. Her passion is bringing people together to explore personal growth through creativity. She writes a poetry blog and is currently developing her TEDx talk inspired by the healing of her mental health struggle through connection. Emily lives in WSANEC Territory in Brentwood Bay, BC. with her husband Adam and two children Silas and Ella. Emily is grateful for the support of family, friends, and the ever-growing Connection Project community and wishes to thank all those involved since it’s inception.