Our Vision and Mission
Regenerating the Circle of Connection Among All Beings
The Circle for Change focuses on healing and traditional knowledge and lifeways through group workshops, one-on-one mentoring, anchoring and counseling. Our mission is to empower and uplift those we serve and help people to make the best possible decisions about their own health, healing and personal growth journey. We offer programs and services that focus on those with special needs.
The Circle For Change started in 2013 in response to funding cuts made to programs for indigenous children in Ontario’s foster care system. We saw a need to support the care for Indigenous children through programs designed to strengthen families and networks of connection. An important element in all of our programs was to help children connect to the natural world. This included learning to be at home on the land and exposure to indigenous life skills – such as bow drill fire making, plant medicine, shelter-building, crafts (such as hand drums, moccasins or dreamcatchers), story-telling, ceremony, and traditional healing.
From 2010 to 2017, we ran a unique center called Mentor House. We offered the following programs:
Early in 2017, we closed Mentor House in order to increase our ability to provide expanded programs and services to children, youth, and adults in Ontario. Shore and her team of experienced mentors are now able to provide services globally, encompassing both one-on-one sessions and group workshops. Trainings includes nature connection, peacemaking teachings, indigenous traditional knowledge, storytelling, plant identification and more, for individual healing, learning, and growth.
Shore Charnoe, BA (hons), ECE, BSW, RSW
Founder & President of the Board of Directors
Shore has had a private counseling practice since 1994. As a traditional counselor, helper, and social worker, she has directed several community clinics and many highly-effective community helping programs. These programs have focused on at-risk youth and have included suicide prevention, apprehension prevention, parenting skills, lifeskills, adoption facilitation and short- and long-term foster care. She has helped foster, raise and mentor over 100 children. She is a mother of eleven adopted and biological children and a grandmother of six. A number of her adoptive children were born with fetal alcohol syndrome and came from abusive homes where they were victims of severe abuse, neglect, and trauma. She has been a consultant for child welfare organizations.
She credits much of her effectiveness to the lessons she has learned from over 20 Indigenous Elders. To name just a few specifically:
- She studied for 10 years under the Odawa Medewin Elder Eddie King.
- Shore’s husband and partner, Richard Szponarski, was a student of Eddie King for over 30 years.
- She took her degree in Indigenous Social Work through First Nations Technical Institute under the direction of Banakonda Kennedy-Kish (Bell) , an Anishinaabe (Ojibway) Elder; Katsitsiase, also known as Betty Maracle, a Bear Clan Grandmother of the Mohawk Nation, Elder and Wisdom Keeper, and Ben Carniol, who was a Holocaust Survivor, social activist and author.
- Shore also studied language and traditional stories with Basil Johnson, an Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) Elder.
Shore’s unique gift and skill is her ability to make the lessons she learned from these and many other Elders accessible to others. She has a deep gratitude and love for all the Elders and their teachings.
Program Facilitator & Mentor, Board of Directors At-Large
Richard has a passion for the out-of-doors. He is retired as a mentor with Brant Family and Children’s Services and has worked with The Circle For Change since its inception. He has expertise in wilderness skills, woodworking, fire-making, archery and other outdoor survival skills, and has been blessed to sit at the feet of many elders of many nations, including study with Odawa Medewin Elder Eddie King (Wassa) for over 30 years. Richard found his calling while out on a solo 24 hour fast. It was in Northern Ontario that he attended a cultural immersion camp where the natural world “spoke” to him. From that day on he has worked tirelessly to show that everything we have is dependent on our relationship to our common Mother and we need to respect all life in all its forms. It was on there that he met Wassa and began a lifelong passion to learn and to teach these principles! He also brings decades of experience working in carpentry and construction to his mentoring work and in support of The Circle For Change programs.
Jackie McMillan, BES, Autistic
Community Helper, Autism Turnaround Specialist, CST, Trager, and Advanced Trauma Release Practitioner, Secretary of the Board of Directors
Jackie began “bio-hacking” her own life-long brain inflammation (autism) in 1976. Within 7 years of experimenting with nature-based, peace-making, and balance-creating life changes, she had stopped rocking and droning, learned to tell time and navigate, and shifted brain availability from about 10% of waking hours to over 60%, enabling friendships, employment, and ever-higher degrees of social integration. And her quality of life is still getting better!
Jackie decodes each individual’s unique autism challenges, curates the relevant research, and tailors do-it-yourself strategies for families, educators, supporting professionals, workplaces, and spectrum adults to optimize the gifts, and minimize the challenges of autism.
She also has interests, experience and unique skills with food systems, wild-crafting, microbiome support (including home lacto-fermentation), sustainable energy, healthy construction, alternative finance, appropriate technology, safe city cycling, therapeutic bodywork, trauma release, and so much more.
Jackie is highly motivated to spare others unnecessary despair, debility, discomfort, and disease. Her passion and joy for our home, our planet, shine through in everything she does. Her guiding principle is, “If you know things have to change, you might as well enjoy it!”
William (Bill) Shailor Clarke
Field Geologist, B.Sc., Hydrogeologist, M.Sc., PGO, Treasurer of the Board of Directors
Bill Clarke has been a field geologist (subsequent hydrogeologist) for almost 50 years. Being out-of-doors has been his life-long focus. In 2003, Bill entered the Tracker world of Tom Brown Jr., where Bill attended many courses in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey over the next several years. These experiences eventually led to a close association with people in Ontario who are outdoor enthusiasts with a deep desire to learn skills of our ancestors (tracking, bird language, plant identification, flint knapping, building stick bows and much more).
One of Bill’s passions has been realized as a regular volunteer at the Guelph Outdoor School for the last nine years. These experiences lead to a level of Nature Connection that is currently absent in the lives of too many young people. It’s so rewarding to be able to pass on a lifetime of bush skills to youngsters who long for those experiences.
Bill is also involved with older-life-stage folks who are exploring ways to have elders/mentors readily available to next generations, as often as possible. Trained older mentors can support and encourage in ways that often allow youngsters to try new experiences, and gain confidence in themselves and support their decision making process.
Other commitments have included participation in several Mens’ Groups over almost three decades. The one group has been together for about 28 years.
Bill has immersed himself in the Anishinaabek culture, especially with the intention of learning the language. He believes that the teachings of Earth-Based people are the most appealing ways to connect with Earth Mother, and show us humans how we are really meant to live this Spiritual journey in sacred balance. Bill’s dream is to be on land that will feature a community setting, surrounded by forests, wetlands and naturally running water. By design, he will be off-grid and as self sufficient as possible.
Nancy was up in the southeastern Appalachian mountains every weekend – rain, sleet, sun or snow – backpacking, white-water canoeing, or rock-climbing from junior high to the end of college. With a degree in Forest Management, she served as a US Forest Fire Fighter for a year before marrying a chiropractor and discovering organizational skills. After working over 20 years in medical administration and publishing in Minnesota, she entered a Franciscan contemplative monastery for a little over 5 years. When she left the monastery, she got her permaculture design and teaching certificate and found mentors in Lakota ceremony She is now an Elder for the Helper’s Mentoring Society and helps organize and present Circle for Change programs.
Drew is a life partner to Sharon.
A father to his adult children Julian and Pia.
A Grandfather to Ben.
An Uncle to Myles
A Community Helper
An Elder In Training
Drew rode his first bike at about 7 and is still riding at 70.
Drew has a BA in Human Services from Western Washington University and worked with at risk youth. He was a community activist for a decade in Seattle and the Bay Area California before embarking on a career in telecommunications. Since retiring in 2016, Drew has followed a path across the pond, one lily pad at a time, starting with Wilderness Torah, on to 8 Shields, Helpers Mentoring Society and now the Circle For Change.
Drew feels blessed to have the opportunity to become an Elder and be of service to the world in a good way.
Zhyfhs Millicent has worked with Shore Charnoe since 2012 and The Circle For Change since 2013. Zhyfhs holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in English from University of Guelph. In addition to her communications and organizational management skills, Zhyfhs’ interests and experience includes working with children and youth, herbal medicine, and healing for health and wellness. Zhyfhs also works part-time as a web designer.
~ Aboriginal Storyteller, Traditional Crafts and Visual Arts ~Facilitator
Born French Canadian – Metis – Anishinabek, Della Chenier did not seem to the outside world to embrace her Aboriginal heritage until later in life. She was raised in a predominantly colonial world and was encouraged to practice the Catholic religion.
As a child she sketched with charcoal and pencil and was drawn to the images of horses, hands and nature. As a young woman her curiosity of native culture rooted within her began to emerge with a self study project in high school, comparing four significant Christian bible stories with a parallel story in Native myths and legends.
A serendipitous meeting with Chief Red Cloud, catapulted her into the study and sharing of her Aboriginal ancestry. She learned to apply her sewing and crafts skills to design and produce a traditional dress and a pair of moccasins to be used during her presentations. She gathered traditional knowledge through storytelling and received teachings, continued to work with leather and learned traditional beading and crafts and plant medicine. She transitioned from young woman, to wife and mother and eventually grandmother.
Along the way, a shift occurred as she became the one telling the stories and providing instruction for arts and craft, first with her family, then with her community and then outside her community.
Today, she works with children and youth to inspire dignity and pride and caring for ourselves, one another and Mother Earth.
Professional and Community Activities
➢ Native Traditional Culture: Storytelling, Arts & Crafts and Gardening
➢ Storyteller, Youth Engagement Workshop, Hillside Festival, Guelph
➢ Storyteller, the Medicine Wheel – St Peter’s & Paul’s Catholic Elementary
➢ Teachings and Ceremonial Storytelling, Crawford Lake Gathering 2006
➢ Crafts and Beading, New Credit Three Fires Gathering
➢ Active Member, Metis Women’s Circle & Drum Circle, Hamilton
➢ Affiliate Member, Native Circle, Saugeen and Cape Croker Reserves
➢ Drum Circle, Aboriginal Outreach, Guelph
➢ Native Circle – Guelph, Fergus, Arthur, Niagara Region and Fort Erie
➢ Studied Sketching and Drawing with Cindy Bernstein
➢ Aboriginal Health Centre, Healing Journey Certificate – Completed 4th
➢ St. John First Aid & C.P.R Basic Rescuer Certificates – former instructor
➢ Previous work as a Personal Support Worker, with experience in palliative
care, addictions and developmental disabilities
Elder, Helper, Consultant and Counsil
Ron is Head Veteran for the Sheguiandah First Nation’s Powwow. He has extensive background in systems design and permaculture, and in the United Nations and International Life Essentials (food, water, shelter) Security.
Ruth Cory is originally from Durango Colorado, but now she lives on a 20 hectare reforestation project in the foothills of Catalunya overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Ruth has a masters degree in psychology from BSU, and specializes in neuroplasticity through nature connection. She has a degree in Naturopathic Medicine, and Homeopathy and a diploma in Permaculture (Permaculture Association, UK). She has a diploma in teaching, teacher training and curriculum writing from The Royal Society of Arts (UK).