Our team

  • Lieutenant General Romeo A. Dallaire | O.C., C.M.M. G.O.Q. M.S.C, C.D., (Retired)Intact/Dallaire Initiative Senior Fellow and Founder
    Background

    Lieutenant General Romeo A. Dallaire | O.C., C.M.M. G.O.Q. M.S.C, C.D., (Retired)

    Intact/Dallaire Initiative Senior Fellow and Founder

    Roméo Dallaire is founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, a global partnership with the mission to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers.  A celebrated advocate for human rights, especially in regards to child soldiers, veterans, and the prevention of mass atrocities, General Dallaire is also a respected government and UN adviser, a best-selling author, and former Canadian Senator.

    Throughout his distinguished military career, General Dallaire served in staff, training, and command positions through North America, Europe, and Africa, rising in rank from Army Cadet in 1960 to Lieutenant-General in 1998.

    Most notably, General Dallaire was appointed Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda prior to and during the 1994 genocide.  General Dallaire provided the United Nations with information about the planned massacre, which ultimately took more than 800,000 lives in less than 100 days; yet, permission to intervene was denied and the UN withdrew its peacekeeping forces.  LGen Dallaire, along with a small contingent of Ghanaian soldiers and military observers, disobeyed the command to withdraw and remained in Rwanda to fulfill their ethical obligation to protect those who sought refuge with the UN forces.

    His courage and leadership during this mission earned him the Meritorious Service Cross, the United States Legion of Merit, the Aegis Award on Genocide Prevention, and the affection and admiration of people around the globe.  His defiant dedication to humanity during that mission has been well-documented in films and books, including his own account: Shake Hands with the Devil: the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2004 and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing awarded by the Writers’ Trust of Canada.  It provided the basis for an Emmy Award-winning documentary as well as a major motion picture of the same name; and, has been entered into evidence in war crimes tribunals trying the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.

    General Dallaire’s 1997 revelation that he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a direct result of his mission in Rwanda paved the way for destigmatizing this potentially-lethal Operational Stress Injury among military veterans as well as first-responders.  Though it led to his being medically released from the Canadian Army in 2000, he has devoted decades of passionate leadership and advocacy to the issue on behalf of other veterans struggling with PTSD, including the publication of his bestselling memoir: Waiting for First Light: My Ongoing Battle with PTSD.

    LGen Dallaire was born in Denekamp, Holland, on 25 June 1946, to Canadian Army Sergeant Roméo Louis Dallaire and Catharina Vermaesen Dallaire.  He was raised and educated in Canada, joining le Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean in 1964 (later assuming command of this institution as Brigadier-General in 1989), and graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Royal Military College in 1969.  He also attended the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College, the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Virginia, and the United Kingdom Higher Command & Staff Course. LGen Dallaire holds honorary doctorates and fellowships from near three dozen universities in Canada and the United States.

    LGen Dallaire is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec, and a Commander of the Order of Military Merit.  He is the recipient of the United Nations Association of Canada’s Pearson Peace Medal, the Arthur Kroeger College Award for Ethics in Public Affairs from Carleton University, the Laureate of Excellence from the Manitoba Health Sciences Centre, the Elie Wiesel Award from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Harvard University Humanist Award.

    General Dallaire has served on UN Advisory Committees on Genocide Prevention and Peacekeeping Training, and as Special Adviser to Government Ministers on Veterans Affairs, National Defense, and War Affected Children.  He also served as a Canadian Senator from 2005 to 2014.

    However, since the publication of his book (and subsequent documentary) They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers in 2010, General Dallaire’s primary focus has been his work with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, continually seeking innovative ways to assist militaries worldwide to help eradicate the use of child soldiers, a mission to which he has committed the rest of his life.

  • Dr. Shelly Whitman – Executive DirectorExecutive Director

    Dr. Shelly Whitman took up the post of Executive Director of The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative in January 2010. In the eight years since, she has spearheaded the establishment and growth of the organization, signed MOUs with four countries, and today leads an international team based in Canada, Somalia, and South Sudan.

    Shelly has been instrumental in creating a number of key, international agreements and policies on the protection of children:

    • Created the Implementing Guidelines for the Safe Schools Declaration and successfully lobbied the Canadian government to sign on to the agreement;
    • Spearheaded global roundtables with young people affected by armed conflict to inform the new Policy on Children by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC);
    • Provided the necessary briefs and background documentation that led to the creation of the Canadian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine Note (JDN) 2017-01 Child Soldiers;
    • Supported the creation of NATO’s Standard Operating Procedure on Children in Armed Conflict;
    • Helped to write two UN Security Council Resolutions in 2014: UNSC RES 2143 on Children and Armed Conflict and 2151 on International Peace and Security and Security Sector Reform;
    • Co-authored the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers with the Government of Canada, which gained a record of 59 signatories before the start of the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in November 2017.

    As a subject matter expert, Shelly is regularly called upon to speak to global forums and provide media commentary on the issue of child soldiers. She has also been a member of the Paris Principles Steering Group since 2016.

    Prior to her work with the Dallaire Initiative, Shelly worked as Head of Research on the inter-Congolese dialogue from 2000-2002, under the direction of Former Botswana President, Sir Ketumile Masire. Previous to this post, she was a Research Consultant at UNICEF in New York and worked under the direction of Ambassador Stephen Lewis on the OAU Rwanda Genocide Report.

    Shelly has also enjoyed an academic career teaching in International Development Studies and Political Science at Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University and the University of Botswana. In 2009, Shelly introduced a course on Children and Armed Conflict at Dalhousie University and is now working towards the introduction of a Certificate Programme on Children and Armed Conflict. She has also created and implemented a new e-learning course at Dalhousie’s College of Continuing Education on Children and Youth at Risk.

    In 2014, she was awarded the Canadian Progress Club Women of Excellence Award for her work with the Dallaire Initiative, and in 2017, the organization was the recipient of the Human Rights Watch Voices for Justice Award.

  • Rachael Borlase – Director of Program Development & Operations

    Rachael joined the Dallaire Initiative in August 2017 after spending many years developing and implementing successful media and international development projects around the world.  She has lived and worked in multiple countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, serving in management, training and technical advisory roles for the BBC’s international development organization – BBC Media Action.  She has also worked for Journalists for Human Rights and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and holds an MSc from the London School of Economics.

  • Dr. Catherine Baillie Abidi – Director of Training

    Director of Training

    Dr. Catherine Baillie Abidi joined the Initiative in March 2018 as the Director of Training. Catherine has extensive experience researching, publishing and teaching in the areas of peace and conflict, international humanitarian law, forced migration, and adult education. Her recent book, Pedagogies for Building Cultures of Peace: Challenging the Constructions of an Enemy, explores how critical pedagogies and participatory methodologies can challenge and transform violence.

    Prior to an academic career teaching at Mount Saint Vincent University, Athabasca University and Saint Mary’s University, Catherine spent fifteen years working with the Canadian Red Cross where she developed multiple educational resources focused on the rules of war and the experiences of children in armed conflict. Catherine has led hundreds of security sector and community-based trainings oriented toward enhancing the protection of children in armed conflict. She received the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Governor General of Canada for this work.

    Catherine is also a mother of two and lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

  • Aimée White – Chief of Staff
    Aimée White is the Chief of Staff at the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. Prior to joining The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, Aimée spent over 10 years in diverse roles in both the public and private sector, including posts with United Nations Volunteers, UNICEF, a human resources consulting firm, and Saint Mary’s University. Aimée received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations from St. Thomas University, where her research focused on the issue of child soldiers, and a Master of Arts in the same from Dalhousie University, where her graduate thesis focused on the essential role women played in post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding efforts in Sierra Leone. In 2013, Aimée was selected as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 Emerging Leaders by 21inc.
  • Lori Ward – Director of Fund DevelopmentDirector of Fund Development, Faculty of Arts and Social Science

    Lori joined the Initiative in 2013 as Director of Fund Development. Prior to her work with the Dallaire Initiative, Lori served for nearly five years as Fund Development and Communications Manager for the Coady International Institute, helping secure major project funding and significantly grow the Institute’s work. She held development positions at The Banff Centre, including Research and Proposal Writer and then Development Officer, Campaign during their successful campaign, which raised $123 million towards capital and programming initiatives. From 2003-2008, Lori served as a Director of the Banff Community Foundation, including two terms as Secretary of the Board. Lori holds a BA (Hons.) form Trent University in Environmental Studies and Comparative Development Studies, and a National Certificate in Fundraising Management from Mount Royal College.

  • Jennifer McNeil – Traning ManagerTraining Manager

    Jennifer joined the initiative in July of 2015 and brought with her the logistical experience necessary for her role as Manager of Training. Generally known to run towards a challenge, Jennifer has toiled across the Canadian wilderness as a Treeplanter and Crewboss, acted as a Conflict Resolutions Facilitator with the Northern Ireland Conflict Resolution Program in Belfast, thrived as an English Teacher in Taiwan and traveled the globe whenever the opportunity arose.

    Her experience led her to work in Uganda as a Program Support Officer for a local NGO called Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (ULSA). She worked with landmine survivors to develop innovative approaches for support and self-sufficiency by providing capacity building, small business, and soft skills training to help with social reintegration. It was through this program that she first became intimately introduced to the issue of child soldiers.

    Directly prior to joining the Dallaire Initiative, Jennifer worked with the Canadian Red Cross (CRC). Over the years with the CRC, Jennifer held positions within the Humanitarian Issues program, the Respect Education Program with a focus on violence and abuse prevention, Health Equipment Loan Program and Disaster Management. One of her most memorable experiences with the CRC was coordinating the 8 th annual ‘Move Your World’ Youth Conference, in collaboration with the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation. This 4-day conference gave youth the opportunity to learn about International Humanitarian Law, Active Global Citizenship, and Ethical volunteerism.

    Jennifer received her Bachelors of Arts in International Development studies with a minor in Philosophy from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

  • Josée Barakett – Financial Controller

    Josée Barakett joined The Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative as the Financial Controller in June 2017. Josée was born in Trois-Rivières, Québec, and graduated from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières with a Bachelor degree in Business Administration (Accounting major) before moving to Nova Scotia.

    In 1999, she completed the CMA designation and has spent most of her career in the Engineering and Offshore industry while raising two beautiful children.

    Josée loves children, is a huge sports fan, and enjoys running, travelling and spending time with family and friends.

  • Amara Bangura – Senior Communications OfficerCommunications Officer

    Amara Bangura is a Sierra Leonean journalist based in Halifax with more than 10 years reporting and producing programmes for international media organizations such as the BBC and Journalists for Human Rights. He also has extensive experience working on development communication projects, including training journalists, in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. He holds an MA in Media and International Development from the University of East Anglia, UK and is also a recipient of the prestigious Gordon Fisher Journalism Fellowship at Massey College, U of T.

  • Victoria Bryce – Monitoring and Evaluation SpecialistMonitoring and Evaluation Specialist

    Victoria is the Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at the Dallaire Initiative. She has over a decade of experience in international development, social research, and project management; more recently focusing on Monitoring and Evaluation as the key to successful implementation and continuity of programs. Her previous work focused on vulnerable children and youth, largely in the East African context, having worked in the region for numerous NGOs since 2007. Concurrently, she has worked alongside academics, NGOs, and consulting firms in Canada on local community development projects and programs for vulnerable and at-risk children and youth. She has an honors BA from the University of Fraser Valley and a Graduate Certificate in Evaluation from the University of Victoria. She is currently pursuing her Credentialed Evaluator (CE) status with the Canadian Evaluation Society.