The 2023 CoLab Program
Participants will get access to industry and impact experts who will mentor them through the ideation process. The goal of the program is to create truly meaningful change in our communities.
Applications for the 2023 CoLab Program open on May 8, 2023.
This Year’s Challenge
Youth today face several systemic challenges that have been caused and contributed to by previous generations, inadvertently placing an unprecedented amount of burden on them.
The Mental Health Crisis
Many mental healthcare systems in Canada currently in place lack the competence to address the harms, traumas and complexities related to mental health that communities in Canada face.
Accessibility and navigation of mental health services
Investigating mental healthcare systemic barriers and design constraints of cost, treatment modalities, technology, support systems, and the patient journey.
Stigma and misinformation around mental health
Examining the approaches to de-stigmatizing and educating groups, including but not limited to families, communities, individuals, youth, and the general public, on mental health and mental illness.
Diversity and cultural sensitivity in mental health resources
Recognizing the nuances of intersectionality that affect mental health and the barriers to appropriate mental health resources, including cultural sensitivities, diverse approaches to treatment and care, available languages, inclusivity, and equity.
Inclusive and evidence-based research on mental health
Focusing on mental health evaluations and research methods that are grounded in inclusive, up-to-date, and politically unbiased data.
The CoLab Program is open to next-gen leaders aged 18-29. Participants must go through an approximately 10-week program to create a minimally viable solution. As part of the program, participants will take part in three Challenge Sessions – focused on inspired learning from keynote speakers – and three Co-Creation Sessions – focused on collaboration and mentorship from industry experts.
This money will be distributed across multiple successful ideas.
2023 CoLab Program Speakers
Participants will attend three virtual co-creation and challenge sessions that emboldened and reframed their thinking around this year’s sub-focus areas.
Kwame Osei (MC & Speaker)
July 20, 4:00 – 6:00 pm EST
Kwame Osei is a dynamic professional host & keynote speaker for seminars, corporate & school events, youth & charitable events & non-profit organizations. Kwame Osei was awarded a Queen's Platinum Jubilee pin for his significant contribution as a teacher and mentor to inmates of maximum security in his community by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Kwame Osei's presentations focus on inspiring change, action and growth, pushing people to broaden their perspective and take control of their personal growth. After being exposed to the street culture of Rexdale, Toronto, Kwame used the power of sport and the sports mindset to overcome all obstacles to become a CFL player, teacher, football coach, entrepreneur and community leader. Kwame Osei is a dynamic keynote speaker who teaches fundamental tools he learned throughout his life to empower others through a diverse lens.
July 20, 4:00 – 6:00 pm EST
Larissa Crawford proudly passes on Métis and Jamaican ancestry to her daughter, Zyra, and is a published Indigenous, anti-racism, and climate justice researcher, policy advisor, and restorative circle keeper with over 14 years of experience. Larissa is also the Founder of Future Ancestors Services, an Indigenous and Black-owned, youth-led professional services social enterprise that advances climate justice and systemic barrier removal with lenses of anti-racism and ancestral accountability. Through an intergenerational, disabled, and queer team of professionals and advisors, they provide speaking, training, research and consulting services, and influencer and interview services to +300 diverse clients. They do this while centering decolonized and Indigenized practices, and are constantly reimagining how we can learn, relate, and work together in healthy ways.
August 3, 4:00 – 6:00 pm EST
Teddy Syrette (Ozhawa Anung Kwe/Yellow Star Woman) is a 2-Spirit and First Nation Anishnabe and Mental Health Expert from Rankin Reserve of Batchewana. Teddy Syrette has received numerous awards for work in advocacy including the Mark S. Bonham Award for Sexuality, Planned Parenthood Toronto LGBTQ+ Person of the Year, Sault Ste. Marie YMCA Peace Medal and the Best Indigenous Person of the Year award.
August 3, 4:00 – 6:00 pm EST
Dr. James Makokis and Anthony Johnson
August 17, 4:00 – 6:00 pm EST
Dr. Susan Biali Haas
August 17, 4:00 – 6:00 pm EST
2023 CoLab Program Mentors
Participants will work with mentors and peers to co-create solutions to specific challenge spaces. CoLab mentors bring experience, guidance, and additional perspective to foster meaningful ideation.
Emma is a PhD anthropologist with over 15 years of industry experience applying human-centered methodologies to complex innovation and organizational challenges. Using a range of social science, design and strategic foresight methods, Emma uncovers insights about human beliefs and behavior and then works with organizational leaders to apply these learnings to make meaningful transformative change. In addition to her work for clients, Emma is an Executive-in-Residence at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, where she teaches the MBA Design Research and Data Storytelling course, and is faculty in the Leading Change and ESG Executive Programs.
Patrick has built his career bringing unexpected people together. Drawing on skills from business, design, product development, and innovation management, Patrick is an expert at finding opportunities that exist between social and business impact, and building organizations to deliver on them. Patrick has spent over 20 years as a global innovation, design, and digital leader. Today, Patrick serves as President of Normative, where he runs the People & Operations function and oversees cross-functional teams focused on using human-centered design to solve business problems. He advises multiple SAAS and health startups.
Cheesan Chew is a seasoned business leader with over two decades building businesses, leading innovation, and advising senior leaders - from start-ups to Fortune 500 organizations. Cheesan is currently the Chief Strategy Officer at Manifest Climate, a B2B technology leader helping organizations become more climate resilient. She is also an active advisor in the Canadian tech ecosystem, helping start-ups and scale-ups drive their next stages of growth. Prior to joining Manifest, Cheesan was Chief Operating Officer of RBC Ventures, a subsidiary of RBC. Her role included developing best in class foundational capabilities including risk management, business management, strategic planning, marketing, analytics and people experience.
Cher (she/they) is the Logistics Director at Music for Mental Health, a Canadian non-profit that uses music to raise awareness of mental health issues. They co-founded Purple Lotus, providing culturally sensitive mental wellness support for Asian Canadian youth, as part of the first CoLab cohort. CoLab provided mentorship and funding, kickstarting their project and inspiring them to continue their journey at @UBC. Now, as a mentor, Cher is eager to share her knowledge in psychology and design thinking.
Keosha is an award-winning artist, activist and educator who builds spaces for wellness and collection liberation. As a poet and writer, Keosha is notable for centering self-actualization, womanism and generational healing in her work. In 2016, Keosha founded Our Women's Voices, a Toronto-based non-for-profit focused on amplifying the voices of women and making social change through arts, education and community organizing. With her BA in Psychology and roots in creative arts, Keosha has graced many stages and rooms as a teacher and public speaker, exploring themes of mental health, race and gender advocacy. Keosha's poem "A Prayer for Black Women" has been shared nationally and featured in CBC’s Poetic License. In 2021, Keosha debuted her first mental health series titled Black & Vulnerable also on CBC. Most recently, Keosha was the recipient of the Community Hero Award presented by TFC for her contributions towards her community.
2023 CoLab Program Details
When is it?
- Event duration: approximately 10 weeks
- Start date: July 6, 2023
- End date: August 21, 2023
- Awards date: September 14, 2023
Who can join?
- Registration is open to youth 18-29 years old
- Background: interest in the Mental Health Crisis in Canada; volunteer experience or participated in related NGOs (not mandatory)
- Registration fee: no
- Groups: participants can sign up individually or with peers
2022 CoLab Program Highlights
The CoLab is an innovation accelerator that helps the next generation of leaders, activists, innovators, entrepreneurs and critical thinkers, who are providing business solutions to Canada’s most pressing problems by offering them access to investment and mentorship via industry and academic experts. The 2022 CoLab Program was a huge success! Watch the video above to learn more.
2022 CoLab Program Participants
2022 CoLab Program Grant Recipients
A Melanated Guide to Mental Health
Priyanshu Mahey; Cher Peng
Tracey Gaydosh; Aileen Tran
One Stop Mental Health Canada
Chloe White; Erin Robello
Know Your Nation
Amit Sharma; Ripdaman Malhans;
Rohan Birk; Joshan Gill