LIVE ONLINE CONFERENCE: Internalized Racism in the Afro-Caribbean-Black (ACB) communities:  Impact on Mental Health

Please join us on November 28, 2020 for a LIVE ONLINE Conference on Internalized Racism in the Afro-Caribbean-Black (ACB) Communities:  Impact on Mental Health lead by five, ACB, mental health, and wellness professionals in the Ottawa community, and co-facilitated by Ottawa River Psychology Group clinical psychologists Dr. Kamala Pilgrim C.Psych. and Dr. Melisa Arias Valenzuela.

If you cannot make it live, register anyway as the video for this training will NOT be posted publicly but only shared with registered attendees. Do not miss out.

Webinar description:

Internalized Racism and Mental Health: A day of teaching, reflection, and inclusive ways of knowing







DR MELISA ARIAS-VALENZUELA (Ph.D., Doctoral Associate, Certified Perinatal Mental Health Practitioner {PMH-C})


  • CHONGO BWALYA (BCom Honours, Certified Yoga Instructor {CYT}-200)
  • MONNICA WILLIAMS (Ph.D., American Board of Professional Psychology {ABPP})
  • MEGHAN WILLS (Unified Mindfulness L1 and L2 Coach) 
  • WARREN CLARKE (Ph.D. Candidate)


Organizer, facilitator, and speaker: Kamala Pilgrim, Ph.D., C. PSYCH, Certified Yoga Instructor {CYT}-200

Kamala Pilgrim (Ph.D., CYT-200, C. PSYCH) is a registered clinical psychologist (licensed with the College of Psychologists of Ontario, certificate #6258) with graduate and post-graduate level training in interventions such as, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Psychodynamic Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment-based Therapy (ACT), Dialectical-Behavioural Therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness. Dr. Pilgrim obtained her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Concordia University and also received a Master’s of Science in Neuroscience from McGill University, in Montréal, Québec. Her research has aimed to elucidate the impact of information processing biases on physiological and emotional reactivity to stress.  Her doctoral thesis work was awarded a fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Dr. Pilgrim is passionate about social justice; she commits to remaining keenly aware of and to shedding light on the damaging effects that racism and discrimination have on identity formation and personality development, socialization, and mental health. Most important and closest to her heart, is a desire to promote healing within a safe, wise, courageous, nurturing, loving, and compassionate mind frame and energetic space.

She has received some formal training in understanding the role of race and culture in shaping mental health through a predoctoral internship completed at The Royal Victoria hospital as well as, via her brief involvement with The Multicultural and Race Relations Committee of the Anglican Diocese, in Montréal, Québec.

Dr. Pilgrim is deeply fascinated by and interested in incorporating, the ancient wisdom of Yoga into her daily intentions and routines, as well as, her work with clients, where appropriate. As such, she is a long-time practitioner of Yoga (e.g., philosophy, posture, meditation, pranayama, kirtan – spiritual chant) having been exposed to this practice as a child.

Dr. Pilgrim sees herself as a lifelong student, continuing to pursue the study of the mind-body link with several qualified teachers who have an expertise in Yoga as a pathway to healing as well as those with experience in third-wave psychology. She has delivered several presentations addressing how to integrate core principles of Yoga philosophy and practice into traditional CBT treatment of anxiety. She is a member of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science and Mindfulness Ottawa.

Organizer and facilitator: Melisa Arias Valenzuela, Ph.D., Doctoral Associate, Certified Perinatal Mental Health Practitioner {PMH-C}

Melisa Arias-Valenzuela (Ph.d., Doctoral Associate, PMH-C) holds a bachelor degree in psychology from the University of Ottawa and a doctoral degree in psychology (Ph.D.-Psy.D.) from the Université du Québec à Montréal. Her doctoral thesis focused on understanding how multicultural people identify with their cultural groups and negotiate cultural differences as well as, the repercussions of these processes on their psychological well-being. Her doctoral thesis was awarded a doctoral fellowship by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Over the course of her clinical training, Dr. Arias-Valenzuela has primarily received trained in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as well as, in some third-wave approaches, including Acceptance-Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectal-Behavioural Therapy (DBT). More recently, she developed an interest and passion for compassionate intervention approaches, particularly, for Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT), and has been training in these approaches ever since.

Dr. Arias-Valenzuela has received advanced training from Postpartum Support International and has recently completed her certification in Perinatal Mental Health. She is a member of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, the Compassionate Mind Foundation and Postpartum Support International. Dr. Arias-Valenzuela has led many clinical workshops on the therapeutic use of compassion practices, including the 2020 Meeting of the Canadian Network for Compassion Focused Therapy.

Speaker: Chongo Bwalya, BCom Honours, Certified Yoga Instructor {CYT}-200

Chongo Bwalya (BCom Honours, CYT-200) is a business graduate, yoga teacher, and founder of “Anona Wellness”, an initiative focused on reducing cultural barriers to wellness. Her wellness journey began in 2017 when she discovered the practice of yoga and continues to evolve through her work in the wellness industry. Now, she is focused on using her business acumen and wellness experience to eliminate common stigmas associated with wellness and mental health within Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities.

Speaker: Monica Williams (Ph.D., American Board of Professional Psychology {ABPP})

Monnica Williams (Ph.D., ABPP) is a board-certified, licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in cognitive-behavioral therapies. She is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa, Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Disparities, and Director of the Laboratory for Culture and Mental Health Disparities. She is also the Clinical Director of the Behavioral Wellness Clinic, LLC in Tolland, Connecticut, and she has founded clinics in Kentucky, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Dr. Williams conducts trainings and lectures for medical residents, community organizations, and treatment providers nationally. Dr. Williams works with organizations and businesses to improve the racial climate. She lectures and conducts workshops at scientific conferences, including workshops to improve cultural competence. She also conducts workshops and interventions to reduce racism.

Speaker: Meghan Wills (Unified Mindfulness L1 and L2 Coach)
Meghan Wills (Unified Mindfulness L1 and L2 Coach) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with a background in human resources, hospitality and philanthropy actively supporting children, youth and anti-discrimination related initiatives in our communities. Meghan has been recognized as a lead meditation teacher and empowerment guide successfully awarded the Founders Fund – Ideation Fund in 2020. Meghan is passionate about inclusive wellness and mental health support because of her own continued experiences as a multi-racial Black Canadian Woman(she/her) with a Jamaican heritage. Mindfulness is accessible to harness in our emancipation of mental slavery; it empowers self-awareness, self-mastery and equanimity.
About Mindfulness Meghan service offerings: Individual Coaching, Group Coaching (BIPOC and Ally specific offerings), Corporate Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Workshops, Corporate Wellness Programs (Workshops, Training and Retreats), Keynote and Volunteer Community Offerings  For further information on each service offered, book a call with me at:

Quote – Owning My Why:

“I have struggled to fit in to a mold, a job description, norms and even, my surrounding friends and family at times – but I grew from believing fitting in was important to the true freedom that comes with authenticity. Mindfulness is intersectional for me with inclusive activism:  equity among differences, dismantling hate and decreasing suffering are all a part of my mission.⠀⠀⠀⠀

I do this for my daughter and everyone that has the future of humanity to think about, you understand what I mean. The future doesn’t have to repeat ALL of the past and we can heal and make an impact – that is why I do this and face all my fears, every day, even when I feel like I am barely crawling forward. I’m grateful for every small step, forward or back, there’s an opportunity in every experience.”

Where to find Meghan Wills: Website:, Contact: (Email), YouTube: & Twitter – @mindfulnessmeg
Instagram – @mindfulnessmeghan, LinkedIn:

Speaker: Warren Clarke (Ph.D. candidate)
Warren Clarke (Ph.D. candidate) is a doctoral student in Sociology with a specialization in Political Economy at Carleton University. His broad research interests are tied to Youth Cultures; Social Citizenship; Neoliberalism/Gentrification; Race and Ethnicity; Anti-Colonialism; and Masculinity. Warren’s dissertation, supervised by Dr. Jacqueline Kennelly, focuses on how first and second-generation young Canadian African and Caribbean Black (ACB) men experience youth employment training programs in Ontario and Quebec. Theoretically, he utilizes the work of Franz Fanon as a way to encapsulate how Canadian social norms – emerging from Canada’s existence as a settler-colonial nation-state and its long history of racial discrimination – continue to affect the social development of young ACB men. Also, phenomenology, the secondary theoretical framework, is expressed in his study to understand the social experiences of ACB male youth and their use of employment training programs. The theory considers the intersubjective ideologies from other people (youth workers, employers, etc.) and how they impact young Black men. Both theoretical approaches will serve to develop an understanding of how better to support young ACB men and their socio-economic development while challenging the misconceptions of Black masculinity in Canada.





Click the link below to register for “LIVE ONLINE CONFERENCE: Internalized Racism in the Afro-Caribbean-Black (ACB) communities:  Impact on Mental Health”.


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