Inviting Resilience is the overarching theme of a national conference to be hosted by Trent University; Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre; and The Mane Intent Inc. on May 21 & May 22, 2019 at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. The Inviting Resilience Conference will combine academic and experiential learning to provide meaningful opportunities in building community capacity for the newest evidence-based practices; community-driven, multi-sectoral initiatives; and trauma-informed programming focused on building resilience in youth and adults impacted by childhood trauma and sexual violence over the lifespan.

Dr. Kateryna (Katia) Keefer will Chair the Inviting Resilience conference. Dr. Keefer is  a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Trent University and the research lead for Building Internal Resilience Through Horses. Her program of research is focused on the developmental dynamics and applications of socioemotional competencies in the promotion of wellness and resilience across the lifespan. As an emerging scholar, Dr. Keefer has co-authored over 30 journal articles and book chapters on the topics of emotional intelligence, resilience, mental health, and psychological assessment; delivered numerous invited talks and conference presentations on these topics; and co-edited the Springer book of Emotional Intelligence in Education.

Conference organizers are inviting applications for session proposals and poster presentations that focus on resilience research and experiential practice related to: Neurobiology and Impacts of Interpersonal Trauma; Models, Factors and Processes in Resilience; Child, Youth & Young Adult Development; Trauma-Informed Community Programs; Resilience-Building Programs; Opportunities for Resilience-Building with Survivors of Sexual, Gender-based and Intimate Partner Violence, and Survivors of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Organizers encourage applications highlighting Indigenous, Racialized, Immigrant, Refugee and LGBTQ+ perspectives. The deadline for session proposals is January 14, 2019 and the deadline for poster presentations is February 4, 2019. For more information about Inviting Resilience Conference contact Katie McKeiver at the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre at 705-748-5901 or by email

Research results from Building Internal Resilience Through Horses, a community-based program launched in 2017, will be part of Dr. Keefer’s keynote presentation. The program is designed to promote resilience and life skills in young women aged 13 – 18 years living in the City and County of Peterborough and surrounding areas who are survivors of child maltreatment and/or young women exposed to intimate partner violence.  The initiative is founded on the premise that, through hands-on experience of equine-assisted learned combined with expressive and psychoeducational workshops, women will reduce post-traumatic symptoms, improve mental health, enhance personal coping skills and resilience, while reducing post-traumatic symptoms and their risk of harm in the future. A Building Internal Resilience Through Horses manual will also be launched at the conference to enable other communities to offer this 10 week equine-assisted learning program as well.

Both Inviting Resilience Conference and Building Internal Resilience Through Horses are being supported by a $464,983 contribution fund received by Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre in 2017. The funding is part of the The Public Health Agency of Canada Innovation Strategy supporting the Health of Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse through Community Programs.  This innovative project is being led by Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre in partnership with The Mane Intent Inc. and researchers from Trent University’s Emotion and Health Research Laboratory. Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre was one of over 150 agencies from across Canada to apply for the funding and one of 17 organizations to successful receive the funding.


We’re proud to be hosting the Inviting Resilience conference intended to build capacity for trauma- and violence-informed practice, while providing access to a variety of resources intended to support survivors and build personal resilience. It’s another example of our commitment to deliver trauma- informed community- and evidence-based programs like Building Internal Resilience Through Horses to promote resilience and life skills in young people.” – Lisa Clarke, Interim Executive Director, Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre

I’m honoured to be chairing the Inviting Resilience conference that will bring together researchers and community-based programs who share an interest in building resilience in youth and adults impacted by childhood trauma and sexual violence. Resilience is a learned way of thinking, feeling, and acting that can be developed in anyone. Our work is built on the premise that resilience is more likely to occur when we provide the services, supports and health resources that are trauma- and violence-informed and make it more likely for every individual to do well, in ways that are meaningful to his or her family and community. “ – Dr. Kateryna Keefer, Senior Lecturer, Psychology, Trent University
“It’s very rewarding to be a witness to the personal growth and empowerment of young women who’ve participated in the Building Internal Resilience Through Horses program.  We’re proud of all of the participants who’ve completed the program to date and look forward to sharing the research results with the broader community. Working with Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre and Trent University to demonstrate that equine-assisted learning is an effective intervention strategy for building resilience in young women who have experience trauma has been a hugely fulfilling experience.” – Jennifer Garland, Owner/Program Director, The Mane Intent Inc.