Welcome to LINKS
LINKS Institute is Manitoba's newest private vocational institute (PVI).
LINKS is the first PVI in Manitoba to be approved with a totally online curriculum, which means we have been able to take an innovative and flexible approach to helping people gain new qualifications.
At LINKS, our goal is to lower the barriers normally associated with further education such as having to move or spend a number of years taking schooling. We want to see as many Manitobans as possible find new educational opportunities and enter the health & social services sector.
The vision of LINKS Institute is two-fold: to enhance access to further education opportunities in health, social and community services; and to impact workforce development to affect positive change in mental health care.
Have you wondered what LINKS stands for? It’s Linking Integrated Networks of Knowledge Systems. Essentially, this means that there are many organizations and services offering important help to Manitobans in the health, social and community services, and we wish to leverage their knowledge to help students grow.
LINKS Institute aims to lower traditional barriers connected to seeking further education, such as having to relocate and leave your support system. Our online learning platform is developed so students can remain in their home communities and gains skills with which to support their communities when they graduate.
While our instructors are industry experts and hold technical knowledge, we believe that students, regardless of their previous education and experience, are experts and co-creators of their learning opportunities. Our program is developed around the collaboration of students, instructors and the community.
President & CEO of LINKS Institute.
He is a registered psychiatric nurse, holds a master of psychiatric nursing degree and is a PhD in nursing student.
John was motivated to found LINKS Institute after witnessing the effect the Covid-19 pandemic had on secondary/further education in Canada. He observed that students were limited in their options for moving away from home to study, and that students needed predictability for their learning needs rather than having to flip between in person and online study.
Additionally, John realized that the secondary education/further education landscape in Canada lacked options for people who did not want to commit 2-4 years to become job ready in health and social service fields. This was the inspiration for creating 6 month training programs that are robust and credible, to educate students.
“LINKS Institute is intended to further provide highly qualified and passionate employees to the health and social service industries in Manitoba and beyond. We are helping to build services, in addition to educating people”. John Jackson.
John’s roles have included executive director of a large non-profit organization in Western Canada and independent practice as a registered psychiatric nurse.
Dr. Sunday Olukoju
Director of Academics
Dr. Sunday Olukoju is a distinguished scholar, researcher and community advocate based in Winnipeg, MB. Dr. Olukoju holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration from Walden University, and a Master of Arts in Educational studies from Providence University College and Seminary School.
In addition to his long-time roles as student counsellor for the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology and support worker for the Winnipeg School Division, Dr. Olukoju has been involved in a variety of community engagement activities for many years including anti-racism initiatives and supporting people living in poverty.
Dr. Olukoju is particularly active in the Nigerian-Canadian community, and is well-known for building relationships. LINKS Institute is excited to benefit from Dr. Olukoju’s inter-disciplinary, collaborative approaches to community development.
Michelle Danda, RN, CPMHN (c), MN, MPN
Michelle is a Registered Nurse who has had a long career in the area of mental health and substance use services. She completed a Bachelor of Arts and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Calgary in 2003. After working as a youth care worker and rehabilitation specialist with children diagnosed with autism, she went on to complete a degree in nursing in 2008 at the University of Calgary.
She is committed to professional development and lifelong learning. She completed certificates in Addictions and Advanced Studies in Mental Health through Mount Royal University, and in Harm Reduction through York University. She is CNA certified in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. In 2012, Michelle completed a Master of Nursing through Athabasca University; her focus was education and clinical teaching. Following an experience as an Instructor at South Health Campus she decided to embark on a Master of Psychiatric Nursing with a focus on advanced clinical practice. She is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy of Nursing at the University of Alberta. The focus of her research is on the history of psychiatric nurse education in British Columbia.
She is currently a fulltime Clinical Informatics Specialist with the PHSA Mental Health team in BC. Her nursing practice is guided by social justice, patient empowerment and compassionate care. Most recently she was elected as the Western Representative of the Harm Reduction Nurse Assocation.
Cynthia Carr, B.A. (Hons.), M.P.A., M.Sc., Cert. Health Law
Starting her career in the Northwest Territories, Cynthia Carr brings more than 25 years as an epidemiologist, community engagement facilitator, health policy specialist, evaluator, business case development expert and strategic planner. After working for NWT and Manitoba governments, she started EPI Research Inc. which has now been in business for 21 years.
EPI Research Inc. focuses on working with clients across the continuum of health and services with a focus on northern, remote and rural communities. EPI Research Inc. is one of the only consulting companies that routinely works within First Nations communities to work with leadership to guide community driven solutions to health and social inequities. EPI Research Inc. is also leading the implementation and monitoring of an HIV Resource Centre in Kieni, Kenya which is certainly a challenge during a pandemic.
Since March 2020, Cynthia has been a highly sought media commentator and panelist across Canada in all mediums from print to radio to television to discuss the evolving situation, data and concerns in a community accessible. EPI Research Inc. has been engaged to support businesses and communities in contact tracing, risk identification and solutions to employee messaging and infection prevention and control in facility settings.
Cynthia believes that COVID-19 has highlighted disparity in health outcomes related to key social determinants of health such as access to food security and adequate housing, safe communities as well as chronic disease impact on community members. COVID-19 has further highlighted the need for investment in both communication and surveillance. Clear and reasoned communication with the public is imperative as good science accompanied by poor communication is a key challenge to successful pandemic management. Her work also has shown that global communication supported by sustained monitoring, surveillance and clear reporting strategies impacts health outcomes.
Cynthia is completing the Institute of Corporate Directors-Rotman Directors Education Program (ICD.D designation) and serves on three boards. She is also a proud mother to two young adult children.
Ibiyemi Arowolo Ph.D.
Ibiyemi Arowolo Ph.D. is a graduate of Psychology from Nottingham Trent University United Kingdom. Her background includes more than ten years of teaching, mentoring, hands-on and managerial experience in providing life skills and support services to young individuals, students as well as individuals that are psychologically vulnerable, while organizing and leading caseloads and programs to ensure achievement of objectives.
Her current areas of research interest are Clinical Psychology, acquired brain Injury and mood disorders. She has provided services to individuals with developmental disabilities such as those with autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, Angelman’s Syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome, and Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. She is also an instructor at the UoW and a review editor at Frontiers in Psychiatry- Psychological Therapies.
Dr. Prachi Vilekar
Dr. Prachi Vilekar holds a PhD in pharmaceutical science from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre and has experience as a post-doctoral researcher with the University Health Network, Toronto.
LINKS Institute is excited to benefit from Dr. Vilekar’s student-centered focus and expertise in pharmacy.
Paula Culling RN, RPN, MSN
Paula has lived and worked in four provinces and the Northwest Territories primarily working in psychiatric and mental health nursing for over 35 years. Paula has experience in leadership, education, and clinical practice. She has experience developing teaching and scholarly capacity in others and developing innovative and relevant curricula.
Paula completed five academic years of teaching in the Faculty of Nursing at MacEwan University, AB, and prior to that taught for three years in the BScN program in Saskatchewan. Paula’s expertise is mental health theory, community mental health, and innovative learning technologies. Paula is a person with Aboriginal status with the Canadian Metis Council.
Paula was the Special Project Advisor to the Faculty of Nursing and the Chair of the Governance Circle, which brought Indigenous content into the Faculty of Nursing curriculum in partnership with kihêw waciston, the Indigenous Centre at MacEwan University.
Gillian Roy is an Indigenous woman from Treaty 3 territory. She comes with 20 years of experience in the fields of prevention education, harm reduction, sexual and reproductive health including STBBI prevention, substance use awareness, and mental health promotion.
Gillian has been delivering comprehensive education to youth and their service providers across Manitoba since 2005.
Cece Tardiff is a Registered Social Worker and an active member of Manitoba College of Social Workers (MCSW). She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of British Columbia. She wears many hats, but her passion is in mental health and well-being.
She owns and operates a private practice where she works as a Mental Health Counsellor.
She is an avid supporter of Mental health and wellness initiatives. She strongly believes that “there is no health without mental health.
Imogen McIntyre is a Registered Social Worker living in Vancouver, BC. After more than ten years supporting youth using substances and people living with intellectual disabilities, Imogen pursued a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Victoria and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of British Columbia.
As an RSW, she has worked with local First Nations, the provincial government, and health authorities to deliver child welfare and mental health services. She is currently employed as a pediatric mental health clinician at Vancouver Coastal Health, providing urgent care services to young people.
Her research interests include suicide risk assessment for people living with complex trauma, and adapting dialectical behavioral therapy to better serve people experiencing social marginalization.
In her spare time she likes to play outside with her spouse and two kids.
Bojana is a Registered Nurse in the province of Ontario, and has14 years of experience in concurrent disorders, acute and emergency psychiatric care. Bojana has supported individuals with concurrent disorders at all stages of change, and has provided healthcare staff with education on how to support those struggling with substance use and mental health issues. She has also recently published an article with a team of authors describing the implementation of procedures to manage illicit substance use in the hospital setting.
Bojana is currently a Clinical Nurse Educator for a Senior’s Mental Health program in Ontario. She is also in the process of obtaining her Master of Psychiatric Nursing degree from Brandon University, where she is developing a research study related to the retention of mental health nurses in dementia care areas.
Olabisi Ayeni (Bisi) is registered as a nurse in Nigeria and New York, USA, and registered as a midwife in Nigeria. She has clinical, educational, and administrative experience in emergency room, medical/surgical, obstetrics, and pediatric settings. Bisi has both a bachelor of nursing and master of nursing degree and is currently a Ph.D. in Nursing student at the University of Manitoba, Canada.
Born in Nigeria, Bisi migrated to Canada 8 years ago and is currently living in Winnipeg with her husband and four beautiful children. Her strong drive for research and education relating to families and children with Complex Care Needs was born out of her experience caring for her son diagnosed with medical complexity in 2015. After 15 long months of hospitalization, and 5 years of caring for him at home afterwards, Bisi became passionate about exploring the unique experiences of immigrants and refugee parents who have children with complex care needs and set out to bring awareness, cause a change, and disrupt status quo.
Bisi has held positions previously as the Associate Head of the School, Lagos State School of Nursing (now a College of Nursing) in Nigeria and played a significant role in achieving the school’s accreditation by the Nursing Board. She has also worked at the Directorate of nursing services as a principal nursing officer where she oversaw about 3000 nursing staff and handled personnel matters and developed policies and protocols for achieving quality control in all the hospitals in Lagos state.
She has also facilitated the Mandatory Continuous Professional Development Program/ Education for nurses under the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria for many years.
She is currently working as a Public Health Advisor/Specialist with the Canadian Red Cross, and as a graduate Teaching Assistant with Distinguished Professor, Dr. Roberta Woodgate.
Bisi won the Martha Donovan Women Leadership Award in January and will be pursuing higher leadership training to better empower herself. Bisi is eager and excited to be part of the Instructors at LINKS Institute!