Wellness Gurus

Mistress of Ceremonies

Nikki Balch

Nikki, who is part of the 'Vinny and Nikki' show on The Beat 92.5, is an East Coast girl who has lived in six provinces - but Montreal stole her heart when she moved here in 2011.

Her plan to become the lead singer of Destiny’s Child 2.0 fell through so she went for radio instead. Which is perfect because she loves to talk and there’s no way she’d rather spend every morning than waking up Montreal with Cousin Vinny.

When she’s not in the studio you can find her at any live show or concert, shopping along St Catherine with music in her headphones,  enjoying one of the many amazing restaurants this beautiful city has to offer or at the market stocking up on produce so she doesn’t feel so bad about all of those restaurants--it’s about balance right?

JOIN TEAM NIKKI FOR THE EVENT, AND BE PART OF THE REVOLUTION!

Visit Nikki's website

Keynote Speaker

Lisa Brookman and Elizabeth Wiener

Wise Women Canada is the initiative of Lisa Brookman, a Montreal based clinical psychotherapist. With over 18 years of experience in the field of social work, Lisa has guided hundreds of clients in making positive life changes. Together with her friend and colleague Elizabeth Wiener, a teacher with a background in inclusive education, they strive to help empower women to reach their fullest potential.

Lisa and Liz’s 30-year friendship has always been based on a mutual exchange of goods and services. Liz doesn’t let Lisa walk out of the house without being properly accessorized and Lisa regularly eases Liz’s stress with a little therapy and a lot of patience. The Betty and Wilma of the modern age, “Lisa and Liz” have consolidated their strengths to build Wise Women Canada, a lifestyle blog that dispenses advice, wisdom and stories designed to educate and inspire with a focus on mental health issues and advocacy.

They recently launched their Wise Women CJAD 800 radio show which airs every Sunday night from 8-10pm.

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Lisa Brookman is a clinical social worker and psychotherapist with 18 years of experience working with adults and adolescents who have faced a range of complex challenges. She is the founder and co-director of the West Island Therapy Centre, a Montreal-based clinic offering psychological services to children teens and adults.

Lisa is a passionate advocate of mental health issues and is actively working to help break the pervasive stigma that surrounds the disease. She loves working with people and she takes immense pleasure in watching her clients move forward and achieve success. Her clinical experience includes working with individual, couple and group therapy for issues such as infertility, postpartum depression, parenting challenges, marital conflict, anxiety, depression, grief, bereavement and life cycle issues.

Lisa is a seasonal lecturer at McGill University School of Social Work and is a regular contributor on Breakfast Television Montreal and The Huffington Post Canada. Her new radio show, Wise Women, on Montreal's CJAD 800 talk radio launched in September 2016 to rave reviews. Lisa also writes a monthly mental health column in Best Health Magazine.

Lisa is married to her husband a clinical psychologist, and is most notably, a mom of three amazing kids, dog mom of one, a self-proclaimed home décor guru and an aspiring Master Chef contestant. 

Lisa's goal with WiseWomenCanada.com is to create a digital “safe space” for Canadian women, not unlike the offerings in her private practice. Think of WiseWomenCanada.com as the plushiest couch with a cashmere throw, the best latte you’ve ever tasted, and your best friend sitting across from you. Everyone has a story, what's yours? 

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After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Education from McGill University, Elizabeth Wiener parlayed her academic pursuits and her passion for helping children into an inclusive education career. As a strategic tutor, Liz helps kids and occasionally adults with learning challenges as well as organizational and study skills. Her biggest reward is seeing her students develop self-confidence and a “can do it” attitude that lends itself to every facet of their lives. As co-founder of Wise Women Canada.com, Liz is also a passionate mental health advocate. A lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression, Liz wrote her first piece on mental health shortly after Robin Williams death in August of 2014, but sat on it for two months. Like so many, she worried that “coming out of the mental health closet” would diminish her credibility as a professional, as a mother and a friend. According to the Canadian Association for Mental Health, 20% of the Canadian population will suffer from a form of mental illness in their lifetime. Armed with these statistics, Liz was determined to fight the pervasive stigma that exists and actively encourages others to raise their hands in solidarity, without shame.

The positive reaction she has received on WiseWomenCanada.com has buoyed her and so many others to come forward from behind the shadows. Liz is a co-host of the Wise Women Show on CJAD Radio covering the diverse topics that matter to Canadian women, with a focus on mental health, as well as a monthly columnist for Best Health magazine. Liz is also a trained make- up artist with an avid interest in fashion styling and art-journaling. A busy wife, mom of three, and a dog mom of 1, Liz has made it her life’s mission to teach her children and husband all about importance of accessorizing and the creative side of life.

Visit Lisa's website

The Wellness Gurus

Jay and Isabelle

Isabelle and I got married, and had twins ...after I beat Lymphoma!  Here's how it all began. On October 23rd 2005, when I was 27, I was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL). At the time, I was working as a design engineer for Bombardier aerospace and I did feel tired that summer, but nothing alarming until I started getting the night sweats! So I made an appointment with my family doctor to better understand what was going on. After a visit to the hospital for a CT scan, I received a call at home from my doctor who gave me the news…I had a 10cm x 10cm lymph node in my abdomen area and they suspected Lymphoma.  A couple days later a Biospy confirmed an aggressive form of Lymphoma.  After 12 rounds of chemotherapy, my doctors told me my body responded well to the chemo but my form of NHL was continuing to grow. After a complete year of chemo my oncologist suggested a bone marrow transplant. It was presented as one of the last options, so I had my bone marrow transplant on November 10th 2006. That was the ultimate test of endurance for me; 33 days in the hospital room where anybody coming in had to wear a blue mask and a clean blue hospital gown, I had no immune system!  I remember the doctors and staff telling me in it was going to get worse before it gets better... I had the chance to really appreciate how powerful our body’s immune system can be. From that point on I was feeling better every day, medication was diminishing and was feeling my body starting to build itself up. I knew that with a new immune system that was developing I had a chance of beating cancer for good! In February of 2007 my doctors gave me and my family the great news that the bone marrow transplant was successful, I was in remission!  

Isabelle and I met in the summer of 2007, at the end of July. It was a fluke, we were celebrating a friends birthday and did not know each other before that night. A couple of weeks later we were living together and months later we talking about a future together. It was quick because it was easy. We both had this strong will to help others. Until a couple of years ago Isabelle was searching how she could merge her passion for the health/nutrition world, her love of helping others and a business. Being an entrepreneur at heart with now a naturopathic practice under her belt, she is on her quest to help promote how we can empower our bodies healing ability. Through natural medicine, food, essential oils and good life habits she is coaching those that believe there is a better way of enjoying life. Together we have connected at a deeper level by teaming up. I share my positive experience with Lymphoma and Isabelle teaches how important it is to provide your body with the tools it needs to enjoy life to it’s fullest!

We are blessed and are grateful to have so many people around us that loved and cared and have been there to help. We are grateful for it and wish to share our story with as many people as possible.

Brian D'Oliveira

Brian D’Oliveira is an award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist based in Montreal, Canada. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, he was raised in an artistic environment in Venezuela, Austria and Canada. His multicultural background has laid down the foundation for his trajectory of artfully blending ancient cultures and musical influences, giving them a new life in modern formats.  A sound alchemist and healer at heart,  he is constantly pushing the envelope, mastering new instruments, technologies and tools and regularly studies traditional music with masters from across the world in places such as the Peru and India. Recently his evocative work as a composer and multi-instrumentalist has brought many accolades, earning him G.A.N.G. and IGN Awards as well as countless nominations including BAFTA and GDC Awards. Brian D’Oliveira is looking toward the future, discovering new ways and forms to tell stories with sound and music.

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Dr. Madan Bali

Dr. Madan Bali is an extraordinary example of a healthy lifestyle. Now in his nineties, he continues sharing the joy of yoga in his classes and workshops. He is a Vedanta scholar with a Doctorate in Complementary Medicine. He is also one of the best sources of wisdom and knowledge about yoga and its applications for wellness in everyday life.

Founder-director of Yoga Bliss, he was born in Northern India where he developed an interest in a spiritual path from a young age. A long time yoga practitioner, he immigrated to Canada in 1969 and began sharing his knowledge. For over 45 years Dr. Bali has successfully introduced Yoga in Montreal at several colleges and school boards as part of the curriculum, as well as hospitals, corporations, and community centers. He has developed Yoga as a complementary form of therapy in treating psychosomatic disorders. His practical and extensive experience of the therapeutic benefits of Yoga techniques is particularly useful in today’s fast-paced stressful way of life.

“Being brought up in India, amidst the cultural milieu of yoga and its philosophy gives a certain edge to understanding the comprehensive, broad-based nature of a very well structured system.” Dr. Madan Bali

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Marie-Josée Lareau

MJLareau has earned a masters degree in the Executive MBA program at McGill University and HEC Montreal. Finding many similarities between the world of arts and the world of business, she also identified opportunities where they complement each other, harmonizing her experience in art and her solid management background to devise an innovative program tailored to the profile of business people.

Over 20 years of experience in animation of events, consultation and directing artists, Marie-Josée Lareau offer courses tailored for professionals and companies from very different industries. Her workshops have already contributed to the metamorphose of several employees, managers and executives at Cirque du Soleil, Bombardier Innovation Centre, Disney, the medical division of Abbott Laboratories and management teachers at HEC Montreal.

Marie-Josée Lareau has worked for 10 years as an artistic coach for new generations of artists at Cirque du Soleil, where she articulated the programs for artistic development. During her career in the company, she was also assistant choreographer, as well as responsible for the design of special events at the Center of Performance Research and Innovation. She has particularly distinguished herself with the innovative stage setting prepared for the C2-MTL 2012 conference of the PDG of Cirque du Soleil, bringing together video image and live acrobatic performances. Also, the implementation of her Green Carpet Creative lab, has known a sound success, triggering several other initiatives in the organization.

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Melanie Richards

Founder and Director of HappyTree Yoga Studio in Montreal, Melanie leads Hatha, Yin and Gentle Yoga teacher trainings. She was recognized as an outstanding citizen by CTV’s The Power of One for her work in the community with cancer patients and underprivileged youth, and is the winner of a Quebec Notable Award for social entrepreneurship. Melanie is a passionate presenter and writer (TEDx Montreal Women, RVH Foundation, MUHC Conferences, Wanderlust Tremblant, Montreal Natural Magazine) on the topics of yoga and health. 

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Rozel Gonzales

Rozel Gonzales is a passionate yoga teacher, speaker and entrepreneur, dedicated to helping people SHINE FROM THE INSIDE OUT. Each day she advocates living in the present and taking the philosophy of yoga OFF THE MAT.  A mother of 3 young boys, Lymphoma Canada is a cause very close to her heart.  Her eldest son Luka, now 11 years old, is a Burkitt's Lymphoma and Leukemia survivor who has been in remission for 6 years.  The Energie EnCorps Wellness Centre, now open for 3 years, is an expression of gratitude for her son's remission and a platform to promote balanced and healthy living.  

Visit Rozel's website