Jamie Brignell became active in the birth community in 2009 following the life-changing birth of her son in 2009. She desperately wanted to let out the secret that birth can and should be an empowering, mind-blowing rite of passage for a woman. Not the terrifying, drug laden means to an end that is passed off as giving birth in our society.
Jamie became involved with CHOICE! in 2012, after attending a film about VBACs, one year after the traumatic cesarean birth of her second son. The love and support she received that night spurred her on to become involved with Mothers of Change, the Coalition for Breech and La Leche League Canada. As a Breastfeeding Buddy and a DONA trained birth Doula, she is grateful for the opportunity to help protect other women’s birth memories by offering them information and support.
Jamie has 3 wonderful children, one born head down, one born feet first via cesarean and the third a bum down VBAC. A birth junkie in the worst way, Jamie continues to volunteer with CHOICE! to offer women and their families a different perspective from the mainstream. “We help them to see that there is another way, a way to birth your baby with dignity, peace and joy.”
Margaret Crothers has been a member of the organizing team for CHOICE! since the first season, and is happy to see such a wonderful, supportive and informed community. She has been a member of the Coalition for Breech Birth since the birth of her first daughter in 2009, participating in both Breech Birth Conferences, and is a member of the Informed Choice Coalition, Consumers Supporting Midwifery Care, and Mothers of Change.
Margaret has 3 daughters and loves the sense of community that develops at and after the films. She hopes for positive change in the birth community, including informed choice being sought out by birthing mothers, and being both provided and respected by care providers regardless of birth place. Women should be respected and supported in their birthing choices.
Jennifer Gillean’s role in the birth community has been evolving since her first son’s traumatic birth in 2007, which left her wholly unprepared for motherhood. As defeating as this birth was, it inspired her passion to raise connected, compassionate children and her intention to parent from a place of love. She now lives in Chelsea, Quebec with her 3 children and husband where she hosts a variety of retreats and workshops overlooking the Gatineau River.
Since 2001, Jennifer has been learning, living and teaching yoga (the practice of connecting). She is Birthing From Within certified in Birth Story Medicine and the Birth Art Process and is currently the Ottawa ICAN chapter leader, a Birth Trauma Ontario facilitator and a Birth Story Listener. Jennifer is passionate about mentoring and supporting new and soon to be parents according to their own values.
Maria Hughes is a British mother of three who has long believed in informed choice in all aspects of health care. She was her own advocate during her first pregnancy while living in Taiwan. With a very clear idea of the kind of natural birth she wanted, an idea that was not ultimately shared by her obstetrician, her preparation, determination and confidence in her beliefs enabled her to have a non-traumatic birth experience. She then went on to have two incredible midwife-assisted births here in Canada. She joined the Informed Choice Coalition because she believes childbirth should be an empowering experience for all mothers, no matter how or where they choose to deliver. Maria is an avid reader and is passionate about holistic health care and herbal medicine.
Wendy Jolliffe became a birth activist following the non-traumatic but eye-opening birth of her first child in 2001. She was active in the Newfoundland birth community, volunteering with the Friends of Midwifery, La Leche League, and helping to form the Doula Collective of Newfoundland and Labrador. When she moved to the National Capital Region at the end of 2008, she immediately looked for and found the Ottawa area birth activism community. In 2009, she took a lead in logistics and fundraising for the International Breech Birth Conference held in Ottawa. She has been a member of the organizing team for CHOICE! since the first official season in 2012. Wendy has been instrumental in running the CHOICE! box office, coordinating with the film makers, financial coordination, and in event logistics. Wendy is also a La Leche League Leader in Ottawa, and in Gatineau.
Wendy has 4 children – three were born on the Rock and her youngest, born at home when she was 40, is a jeune Quebecois. Her husband is also a Newfoundlander and is a sage homme about all things birth and breastfeeding. Wendy loves CHOICE! because of the sense of community that develops at each film. ”Something magical happens in the amphitheatre,” she says, “audience and panel are seeking a common goal and the liaisons that are forged are priceless.”
Jenya Levin is a Russian mother of three, all born at home. She is a jigsaw puzzle addict, a lover of books and music, and is very passionate about calm pregnancy, peaceful birth, breastfeeding, connected parenting, and informed choice in all things. Jenya creates custom birth and fertility jewellery, Blessingway beads, pregnancy tracking necklaces, belly beads, and other beaded pieces at Veddma Creations.
Jenya writes about the delicate balance of efficiency and sanity at FingeringZen.com and shares educational materials for children and adults at the Rowan Tree Shoppe. Jenya has contributed to several birth-related initiatives in Ottawa, including Mothers of Change, Consumers Supporting Midwifery Care, and CHOICE! Birth and Baby film festival. She has also written Zen Transition to Motherhood – Is there life after birth? – a book full of strategies for smooth, peaceful weeks after birth, which can be downloaded for free at ProductiveZenMama.com.
Nancy Salgueiro became passionate about childbirth, gentle parenting, and natural living from early on in chiropractic college. As a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor, childbirth mentor, birth doula, and author she has supported and coached numerous women through their pregnancies through to parenting and natural living. She is a mother of three, peacefully born children and is an advocate for informed choice in women’s and children’s health.
Nancy blogs about birth, babies, and family health on her blog Your Birth Coach, on the Ottawa Mommy Club, and writes for Whole Pregnancy. Nancy is the author of An Empowered Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and is currently working on Great Sex, Great Birth. She is creating a complete online childbirth empowerment program at Natural, Birth, Baby, and Beyond. She is a co-founder of the CHOICE! Birth and Baby film festival and has contributed to several birth-related initiatives, including Mothers of Change, Consumers Supporting Midwifery Care, and Coalition for Breech Birth.
Carley Spencer – Carley has no kids of her own but has worked with them in some capacity almost all of her life, from babysitting when she was younger, to working as a teacher’s aide in Australian elementary schools, to working after-school care here in Ottawa. Carley joined CHOICE! recently after meeting Jamie at a playgroup in the summertime when she was working as a Nanny. With a graduate certificate in Mobile and Social Media Management, Carley was recruited to spread the word of the CHOICE! Film Festival to the Ottawa birthing community. She really enjoys her involvement with the group and hopes to learn as much as she can for when her time to have kids comes around.
Robin Guy is Co-Founder of the Coalition for Breech Birth and active with Mothers of Change, Consumers Supporting Midwifery Care, and the Informed Choice Coalition. She has experienced the polar extremes of birth, from a textbook-perfect homebirth with her first, to a medically unnecessary forced surgery for her second baby, a breech. Now in her third season with the organizing team for CHOICE!, Robin is deeply grateful for this opportunity for the community to come together and work towards improving options for mothers and babies.
Céline Ouellette is the local Chapter Leader for Mothers of Change of the National Capital Region, working with other mothers to improve maternity care locally and beyond. She has also become an active member of the Coalition for Breech Birth, since the birth of her child in 2010, speaking on the mothers’ panel at the Breech Birth Conference in Washington, DC in 2012. Céline is a student in the Masters of Social Work program at Laurentian University. Her research interests include exploring the links between a woman’s birthing experiences, identity, and postpartum experience by listening to women’s stories.
Since 2012, Céline has been involved with CHOICE! Festival, managing the newsletters. She views the CHOICE! Festival as an opportunity to build a community of support around expectant and new parents, to normalize natural childbirth while honouring our diverse birthing experiences through information-sharing.
Jennifer Semrau – Jennifer (Semrau or Owen, she has yet to really decide), was an occasional consumer of the CHOICE! Film Festivals until the birth of her son in late 2012 when she was hit the hard reality that not all midwives are Betty-Anne Daviss’ and that birth is not regarded by obstetricians as beautiful and normal. In 2013 she joined the organizing team of CHOICE! Birth and Baby Film Festival and helps to manage their Facebook page. She also helps to run the local Sacred Circle, a peer to peer support group for birth trauma. She enjoys red wine, dark chocolate, the insane speed at which the feet of small dogs move while they walk.