Staff Spotlight: Colleen Barss, Counsellor

Colleen is passionate about investing in others and developing relationships that dig deeper than just the surface level. Her passion for people was discovered while working as a hairdresser and learning about her clients. Colleen set out on a journey to find a career that would utilize her skills and qualities while providing a service to others and decided to pursue social work- obtaining her Masters and a full-time position with Family Service Regina in 2004.

“I did my practicum under Ray at FSR when I received my bachelors in social work in 1995, I was hired to coordinate workshops in 1996 and held that position until I returned to the U of R for my Masters in 2001.” said Colleen.

When she’s not striving to make clients feel comfortable, you can find Colleen singing in choirs, gardening and spending quality time with her with her husband, children and grandchildren. Learn more Colleen in our Staff Spotlight:


  1. What personal style or experience, do you uniquely bring to counselling?

Well, I have three years of experience and training in Somatic Experiencing. Somatic Experiencing is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. The SE approach enables individuals to LEAN IN and release traumatic shock, which is key to transforming anything from PTSD to the wounds of emotional and early developmental trauma.


  1. What do you have to know to be a good counsellor?

Probably that you need to be interested and adaptable, you have to figure out what the individual needs and do it their way. It’s also important to have your own eclectic style and commit to life-long learning.


  1. What are three words that describe you?

I’d say I’m patient, flexible and interested in learning.


  1. What characteristic do you most admire in others?

Honesty and integrity are the most important qualities to me.


  1. What is your favorite food in the whole world?

Salad! I love salad, salads are interesting, you can have cranberries and pecans on one, or egg and chicken in another, it’s weird, but I love salad.



Staff Spotlight: Katie Tuff, Receptionist

Katie Tuff, Receptionist

Katie Tuff, Receptionist

Katie is a welcoming and resourceful member our administration team, she’s the first point of contact for the agency and ensures our day-to-day runs smoothly by supporting staff and managing our client file processes. She’s completed Business Education at the University of Regina and held a full-time position with Family Service Regina since 2012. Katie is also an active member of our United Way fundraising committee and a key support for our event’s Jukebox Mania and the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women.

“There are a lot of things I love about my job, working for a human services agency I get to see and share in compassion and appreciation for one another on a daily basis and witness it influence positive change in the lives of others.” said Katie.


When she’s not busy supporting staff, you can find Katie with family and friends, camping or heading out to the acreage to spend some time outdoors. Learn more about Katie in our Staff Spotlight:


  1. What has been your favorite project at Family Service Regina?

I would have to say my favorite work at the agency has been being involved in the fundraisers that support the programs and services of Family service Regina. We always have a lot of fun and it brings out a creative side of yourself and your co-workers that you do not get to see every day.


  1. Before working with us, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

I have always loved waitressing but I would have to say the most interesting job I have had was working for the Saskatchewan Roughriders- Rewards Program. My job was basically to go to the home games and give out free merchandise!


  1. How has FSR helped you in your career development?

Family Service Regina has helped me advance my career in so many ways. Through my work I have gained valuable work experience, a new skill-set, an improved ability to make and build relationships and found an increased confidence in myself.


  1. What three traits define you?

This is a tough one; it’s always difficult to talk about yourself. But I guess I always try to see the good in other people. I am non-judgmental and understanding. I show people compassion and friendship whenever I can. I am a hard worker and will go out of my way if someone needs something.


  1. What is your personal philosophy?

My personal philosophy is (without sounding too cliché) is to look at the bright side of life. Everyone goes through struggles or has to deal with things that seem unfair. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that if you are going through a tough time there is always a silver lining.



Have a question for Katie? Comment Below!

Ray Pekrul- Clinical Supervisor, Counselling Unit

ray-pekrulRay is Family Service Regina’s most long-standing employee. He joined the team as a counsellor in November of 1977- bringing with him a Bachelor in Science, a Bachelor in Social Work and a Masters in Social Work.

“I’m Saskatchewan born, but my family moved to Winnipeg when I was 14 and that’s where I received my Bachelor in Science and Social Work. My Masters in Social Work is from the University of Regina and prior to coming to working with FSR I was working in Yorkton for Social Services as a Financial Service Worker with the SAP Program, (Saskatchewan Assistance Program).” said Ray.


When Ray’s not busy listening to others, you can find him travelling with his wife of 37 years, planting flowers in his back yard, reading the newspaper or listening to CBC Radio. Learn more about Ray in our Staff Spotlight:


  1. What is the most captivating aspect of counseling?


Listening to others and helping them find solutions. Working with people to help resolve problems and remove barriers to personal growth and change.


  1. How to you foster good relationships with clients and staff?


Demonstrating interest and concern for others while working collaboratively and respecting their ideas and feelings.

  1. What three traits define you?

I’m kind, generous and loving.

  1. What is your personal philosophy?

To extend as much kindness, acceptance and love as possible.

Staff Spotlight: Carissa Trenton, Communications & Fund Development

Carissa works to enhance Family Service Regina’s communications and broadcast media outreach through creative writing and designing both online and print materials. In addition, she manages both the Shoppers LOVE. YOU. Run for Women and Jukebox Mania events. She holds a certificate in Marketing and is a member of the International Association of Business Communicators.

“My career in PR began in 2010, first, in retail- representing a well-known auto giant before moving into the charitable sector. I have always enjoyed volunteering and giving back to the community so making the transition was not only easy, it was right for me.” Said, Carissa.

When she’s not busy executing campaign ideas and nourishing our brand, you can find her spending time with her ten-year-old son; Kyden, traveling, attending other fundraising events, hiking Wascana Trails, walking her chihuahua or just hanging out with family and friends.

Learn more about Carissa in our Staff Spotlight:


  1. What do you think is the most important quality you need to have for success?

Digging deep and finding the ability to embrace your failures and mustering the courage to try again.


  1. What do you value most about your job?

I believe in Family Service Regina and, that their mission, to empower and educate our community- will lead to a stronger Saskatchewan. This organization is a small collective of fantastic individuals striving to have a positive impact on our society and I value being a part of that. 


  1. Which day of the work week are you the most productive?



  1. What has been your favorite project at Family Service Regina?

It’s honestly really difficult for me to choose just one project; I’m fortunate enough to be absolutely in love with what I do, so picking just one event, just one campaign.. is impossible!    


  1. What is your personal philosophy?

“Every word has consequences, every silence, too.”



If you have any questions for Carissa, comment below!

Staff Spotlight: Shauna Chegwin, Office Manager

Shauna is a motivated Administrative professional with eight years of experience as a legal assistant, with a strong background in corporate law, criminal law and estate planning; she also has a background in the financial industry. Shauna is Family Service Regina’s glue and is our staffs’ go-to support; she manages human resources, handles all of our IT, is the lead on new employee orientation and manages our front office. She is very active within our internal community; she sits on the Health & Safety Committee, PQI Committee, is part of the management team and heads our United Way campaign committee.

“I had been a part of the corporate world since 2001 and had always held a strong desire to give back to my community, so I made the change to move into the non-profit sector in February of 2012, luckily a friend had notified me that a position opened with her place of work, which was Family Service Regina. I was interviewed and quickly offered the position and the rest is history!” said Shauna.

When she’s not busy supporting staff, you can find Shauna cheering at Regina Pat’s game because she’s a season ticket holder, or spending quality time with her family. Learn more about Shauna in our Staff Spotlight:


  1. What three traits define you? 

I’m hard-working, I’ll always go above and beyond to meet a goal or complete a task.

I’m a team player, and I’m fair, I tend to put the needs of my team members before my own.

I always try to think about how I would like to be treated and always try to treat others that way. I’m very kind, I don’t complain or grunt when someone needs my assistance I’m happy to help in any way that I can.


  1. What does true leadership mean to you?

We’re all part of a team that is focused on our mission, and to me, that is great leadership, everyone is able to take part in shaping and cultivating our organization’s vision. We’re always striving to meet the needs of our clients and we’re leading the way to a healthier and stronger community. 


  1. What’s the weirdest task you’ve ever completed that wasn’t in your job description?

One winter at our old location, there was ice build up on the roof and when it would warm up, water would leak into our office space. My first task every morning would be to go around and empty buckets of water and clean up water messes and try to make sure the offices would be ready for the counsellors to meet with clients. Although maybe not that weird, definitely not how I thought I would start my day.


  1. What is the one thing you absolutely love about working with FSR?

For me it’s to see the change, even though I’m not hands-on dealing with our clients, watching them grow from the moment they walk in our doors to become successful and confident individuals. I remember one woman that started out a little withdrawn when she first came to see us, but over a period of time her demeanor changed and she would make a point to stop by my office and say hello with a huge smile on her face. And that is what makes me love my job!


  1. Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?

The best place I’ve been is to Watchet Summerset England, the town my grandfather was born in. It was a surreal experience, just to see the family café and connect with distant family. I’m already planning my trip back!


If you have a question for Shauna, comment below!

Staff Spotlight: Karen McGillivray, Director of Community Programs

karen McGillivray, Director of Community Programs

Karen joined the Family Service Regina team in 2011, bringing diverse experience in counselling, mental health interventions and program management in various settings. She holds a Master’s degree in social work.

As Director of Community Progams, Karen oversees the Teen Parent Program, Domestic Violence Services, Older Adult Response Service and Art for the Heart.

When she’s not busy juggling her many tasks, you can find Karen learning Spanish, playing floor hockey and spending quality time with her two unruly dogs. Learn more about Karen in our Staff Spotlight:


  1. How do you define a community?

Community is people. In a community, people belong and support one another. That’s why our community programs are available to everyone who lives in and around Regina and we make sure that cost is never a barrier to receiving service. We don’t try to do it all, but our community programs work closely with other services in the city to support everyone’s well-being. I guess the other thing is that communities recognize that every individual has strengths and brings something unique to the table. So we work “with” people instead of “on” people. We support people in their own solutions.


  1. How much time do you spend in one-on-one meetings versus team meetings?

Probably half and half, It’s important to me to stay involved in direct service as much as time allows, so I’ve got a mix of meetings with clients as well as my colleagues at Family Service Regina and outside of our agency.


  1. What characteristic do you most admire in others?

I like real people. I admire people who can be themselves – what you see is what you get. That happens when people are safe and secure and confident, but on the other hand, some people are just brave. They’re just genuine without inflating anything or concealing anything. A lot of people who come here are like that. It always amazes me how people can walk through our doors and sit down with someone they’ve just met and say, “Here’s where I’m at”.


  1. What is your preferred method of communication? Phone calls, e-mail, informally, in meetings, only when necessary?

Depends. Socially, I hate the phone, but sometimes it’s the best way in a work day. I’m a bit odd in that I actually like meetings . . . as long as there’s a good practical back-and- forth discussion happening. I like talking about ideas.


  1. What’s one thing that you’ve waited in a ridiculously long line for?

Well, the line-ups at Family Service Regina staff potlucks are pretty ridiculous sometimes. I don’t wait well. Usually if there’s a long line, I decide very quickly that I don’t actually need whatever we’re lining up for. I’ve never camped out for Black Sabbath tickets or the latest Apple device.


Do you have a question for Karen? Comment below!

Staff Spotlight: Kirk Englot, Director of Operations & Business Development

kirk-2Kirk is armed with 17 years of non-profit experience; he completed his Masters Degree in Social Work in 2009 and has worked as a supportive independent living worker and as a counsellor.  He has also had extensive involvement in community development, anti-poverty and collaborative intersectoral social change initiatives. Kirk oversees our Social Enterprise Division, Family Services Employee Assistance (FSEAP) program, strategic initiatives, and is a valued operational support to our CEO.


“I came to FSR in October of 2006 to work as a counselor and held that role until 2012 when the Director of Operations & Business Development role was created and included things I was passionate about.” said Kirk.


When he’s not juggling multiple tasks, you can find Kirk spending quality time with his wife and son Zachary, cooking delicious food and posting his recipes to his blog.  Learn more about Kirk in our Staff Spotlight.


  1. What would you say are your 3 major strengths? How have these strengths helped you in this position?

My job is very diverse and I have to juggle lots.  I think one of my strengths is that I become bored very easily and need lots on the go all the time to stay interested!  My training is in social work, and since I oversee a social enterprise I have had to learn lots about business.  This has been lots of fun and so a love of learning must be a strength as well.


  1. What do you enjoy the most about working with FSR?

My favorite part about working with FSR is the creative opportunity to be involved in developing new programs and initiatives.  I am especially interested in the role Social Enterprise has in developing independent revenue to invest in social programs we are passionate about.  I love that our organization is not bureaucratic and we get to have quite a lot of influence over what we do and who we want to be as an organization.  I also like that we have a positive culture and look to possibilities and strengths.


  1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I am most proud of my son Zachary who is three.  My wife and I waited a long time for the stork to arrive and had started adoption planning.  Zachary arrived suddenly into our lives 9 weeks early and 2lbs 13 ounces.  He is amazing and doing well and is an example every day of how resilient and eager to thrive children are.


  1. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

Cooking and eating well are passions of mine.  My favorite meals start with a wander around my garden, which I have created by digging up quite a lot of my front lawn.  I love to watch the seedlings grow and turn produce into creative meals.  I love cooking and talking about food so much that I started an online food blog called Eatable: A Journal of Simple Cooking.  It can be found at


Have any more questions for Kirk? Comment to ask!

Staff Spotlight: Shellie Pociuk, CEO

CEO, Shellie Pociuk

CEO, Shellie Pociuk

Shellie has created a work environment where people are empowered to create change on their own to improve processes and procedures. She’s integrated open communication to encourage employees to achieve the highest level of team performance. She has a strong background in financial management for both private and public corporations, sits on the Board of Directors for Family Service Canada and Family Service Saskatchewan, has served on the United Way Campaign Cabinet for 9 years and is a founding partner of the Saskatchewan Nonprofit Partnership.


“My first exposure to the Non Profit sector was when I accepted a position at Family Service Regina in 2002 as the Controller, before moving into this position in 2004 and I have to say that it has been the most rewarding career choice I have ever made.” said Shellie.


When she’s not busy supporting staff and serving on the FSC and FSS board, you can find Shellie travelling, visiting her children, crafting, quilting and hanging with the girls in book club. Learn more about Shellie in our Staff Spotlight:


  1. Can you name a person who has had an impact on you as a leader? How did this person impact your life? 

I have been fortunate to have crossed paths with so many wonderful people throughout my career.  Many people have had an impact on me as a leader and have helped me find my way so it’s very hard to name just one person.  I feel that we can gain personal insight and grow from all of our experiences, good and bad.  The most important resource available to any organization is the relationship among its people, including internal and external stakeholders.  Creating trust, I believe, is the number one competency of leadership.  

  1. What is a favorite memory from your career?

I have to say my favorite memories from my career to date are the people that I have worked for and with over the past 30 plus years.  One memory that does stick out was when I was hired on at Family Service Regina.   I was interviewed by the former Executive Director and offered a position in the accounting area which I initially declined.  The Executive Director at the time would not take no for an answer and convinced me that Family Service Regina was the place for me, I accepted the position thinking it would be a short term contract and the rest is history.  You never know what opportunities lay around the corner and sometimes a leap of faith can take you in directions you never dreamed of.


  1. What is the biggest challenge facing non-profits today?

Non profits today are facing increased pressure to find ways to meet the needs of our community through limited capacity.  Raising adequate funds to achieve our mission continues to be a challenge and I believe it’s a challenge that will not decrease in the foreseeable future.  Within the nonprofit sector, how we respond that this challenge will shape our future.  We have to continue to draw attention to issues affecting nonprofit sustainability and the needs in our community.  With every challenge though comes opportunities, opportunities to engage sponsors and donors in a different way, opportunities to deliver services in more efficient and effective ways that will have a greater positive impact on our clients and in our community.


  1. What is on the horizon for Family Service Regina?

We continue to evolve as an organization to meet the needs of our community.  New and adaptive programs and services are always on the horizon as we continue to grow.  I see our social enterprise initiatives continuing to grow as we focus some attention on our financial viability.   We have embraced a solution focused culture at Family Service Regina which is reflected in all that we do – how we interact and work together as a workplace, how we work with our clients and how we communicate and collaborate with our stakeholders.  We work with a focus on what is possible rather than focusing on the problems or adversity we may face.


  1. What is your personal philosophy?

You can never stop learning.


Have any more questions for Shellie? Comment to ask!

Legacy of Trauma: Intergenerational Impact of Residential Schools


This post is an interview with FSR staff member Renee Hoffart, who researched Intergenerational Trauma stemming from Canada’s Indian Residential School System as part of her master’s studies. Renee is preparing this work for publication. A full copy of her thesis paper can be accessed here

Why did you decide on this topic for your thesis?

It was actually through work. I had been talking to a lot of my Aboriginal clients and I had called one of my clients about a very serious incident that had happened and I said, “How are you doing? How have things been since then?” and she said, “Oh it’s fine, it’s nothing, we’re already back together. This is normal for me. This is just what is to be expected from a relationship.” And so, I thought that was interesting, and I guess I’ve always been interested in the residential school system and the impacts of that. So I did some research and looked at whether there was any existing research on the impact of the residential school system and that normalization of violence. When I discovered that there was a lack of that, I decided that would be a good area to insert myself into.

What is meant by Intergenerational Trauma?

The definition that I used in my research was that intergenerational trauma is the effect of an initial trauma on subsequent generations of that individual’s family or community. So with particular respect to the Aboriginal population in Saskatchewan we see the effects of that manifested in addiction, violence, gangs, and in all of those things, trauma is continually affecting each generation. I think the biggest piece of that is in terms of parenting practices, because when the children were removed from the home, they didn’t have that experience of, first of all, being parented by their own parents and they didn’t have role models of what that looked like in the home, so they were ultimately left without those skills going forward for their own children and their own parenting practices.

For anyone who is unaware, could you give a brief history of Residential Schools and the impact they had?

So the residential school system came together based on agreements between various churches and the government. They basically set up these schools to assimilate Aboriginal children to the white culture of  Canada at that time. So children were taken from their homes and they were placed in these schools. I had some participants talk to me about how it was a positive experience — they got to have a routine, they learned a lot in the residential schools – but for the most part lots of people talked to me about the abuses  (physical, sexual, emotional abuses) that happened in the residential school system. The RSS was actually in operation until 1996. The last school closed in Punnichy. At that point, they were not being operated as they traditionally were when they first started up, but they were in operation for a lot longer than most people realize. Eventually, the government pulled out of the agreement, so it was the responsibility of the churches to maintain the operation of the schools and, of course, without the funding and the backing of the government, those schools eventually just ended up closing. At that point, when it wasn’t mandatory according to the government anymore, they got rid of things such as the pass system, and made amendments to those systems, that’s when it kind of disintegrated.

What was it like listening to these stories?

I didn’t anticipate being affected by them as much as I was, just because working here, you hear a lot of sad and traumatic things. But listening to people talk about how they were personally victimized by someone at a residential school, talking about the pain associated with being ripped away from their families and then hearing them talk about the effects today . . . it was really, really sad. To hear how the Canadian government had established a system that has affected so many people in a negative way . . . it was huge.

Did you find out anything that surprised you?

What came up a lot – and what I had thought would come up was – they had talked a lot about an unwillingness to talk about their experience at the residential school and with their parents as well. So I knew that would come up in some capacity, but it was across the board — every participant talked about how no one is willing to talk about this issue and also to see the connection between their experience and what they are going through at this point today.

So you mean no one in the family is willing to talk about it or no one outside?

No one in the family, so the people that had personally experienced it. And a lot of them said that hesitancy came from the fact that it was just such a hard thing to talk about for them. They also talked a lot about pretending. Pretending that everything is okay and really trying to put on a brave face in the community or for their kids even though they were so, so impacted by what had happened. One participant advised that her mom really struggled with the abuse that happened in the residential school and that she used alcohol and drugs to cope with that, but her mom was so good at putting on a face of being the head of the family that she didn’t even know that her mom was using alcohol and drugs to mask that pain until she was an adult and some of that stuff came out.

What was the most memorable thing that you heard in your research?

I guess for me it was really cool to be able to hear the participants say,  “The reason I came to do this interview with you is because it’s a really important topic and I want to help . . . I want to help women and I want to get this story out because it’s really important.” And so for them to say that and also to say how proud they were that they were able to come. To also say, “I know I rescheduled my appointment with you five, six times but I’m so glad that I’m here and I’m so glad that I talked about this.” That was cool! Because I think when I had started out it was: I need these participants to do this research project to get my masters degree, and I think at the end it was: I wrote this thesis but it was writing their stories and that was the most important thing for me, is that document really reflected their perspectives and what they wanted to say and what they wanted to get out. It’s a cool opportunity to be able to do that.

Renee Hoffart joined the Domestic Violence team at Family Service Regina in 2012. She has provided information and support to many, many people affected by domestic violence. Her passion for research has led her to pursue doctoral studies at University of Manitoba.

How can we respond to Intergenerational Trauma?

I think the biggest thing for myself and my own practice is understanding that there is a cycle of domestic violence for these ladies but it fits into the larger cycle of intergenerational trauma and violence that they’re experiencing – with their family, with their partner and systemically as well. So it’s working with people to help them understand that those behaviours are not normal and not commonplace. It’s supporting them in that way because I think that’s the biggest barrier sometimes is that they don’t . . . not that they don’t realize those behaviours are abusive but that they think that’s okay, that’s the way things have always been and will continue to be.

It would be interesting to see if there could be some kind of group that could address how that larger cycle – the colonial context – is affecting the way people are viewing their situation. Because I do think it’s different than a person who has not had that experience – when it’s an isolated incident and their life hasn’t been filled with violence. I think it would be interesting to see a group that could address that need and address that intergenerational cycle.

The systems that are in place now are sometimes affected by the colonial system and attitudes toward Aboriginal people, so people working within those systems should be mindful of how their own attitudes are influenced by the history of colonization in Canada.





Staff Viewpoint: How my clients inspire me


My clients inspire me every single day, and each one of them in their own, unique way. My initial contact with most of my clients is very shortly after something traumatic happened to them. Trust was lost or broken between them and someone they cared for. Someone physically or emotionally hurt them and they are left to pick up the pieces. Surviving any traumatic experience demonstrates the strength in us that we might not ever have known existed. My clients inspire me by how they bounce back. They inspire me by not even knowing they are bouncing back. I was once told that personal growth is like hair growth: you might not notice it, but it’s happening. Every day, we are growing, we are strengthening and we are healing.

My clients inspire me, because even within a crisis, they can always find at least one positive thing. And usually, it’s more than one positive thing. A lot of the “positives” in their lives are their children. Whatever they are going through, they continue to put their children before them and protect them no matter what.

My clients inspire me with their survivor stories. Some of the pain my clients have endured brings me to tears. I try to put myself in their shoes, and try to think of what I would do if I were in their situation. Most of the time, I have no idea what I would do and how I would get through it. But they did. They overcame every obstacle to survive, and eventually, to thrive.

My clients inspire me, because they asked for help. They were surviving, they were getting by, but they needed a little extra help. They had a question they needed an answer for. They needed some support. We are not all lucky enough to have positive supportive people in our lives, and that is why the Domestic Violence Unit is here. My clients will sometimes apologize for calling, or they will say “you must have clients worse off than me” or “you must be busy with other stuff”, and I always tell them I have time for them. And it is always sincere. Every question, every call to “vent”, every tear is worth the same. I am here to be whatever type of support my clients need.

My clients inspire me with their resourcefulness. They know how to keep themselves safe. They know who to call when they need help. They know where to go for shelter. And if they don’t? That’s why we’re here. We are here to help clients find shelter, to help them be heard in the justice system, to connect them with counselling.

My clients inspire me because every day they give me hope. I came into this job thinking I was there to fix problems. But I am not. I am here to support and help when I can. My clients are strong, independent people that are more than capable of making a better life for themselves and their children.

My clients inspire me because they make me think about ways that I can be a better person; better for them and better for myself. We are all fighting battles, of course some far greater than others. My clients inspire me to be grateful for what’s good in my own life and to know that I can overcome what’s not.

I appreciate my clients for allowing me to be a part of their journey; even for a brief moment.

-Laura McCusker