Sandra Elder, Ph.D., was a respected academic researcher in the field of grief and loss and a hospice practitioner when she realized the need for accessible supportive programs for youth experiencing loss. In 1988, she created a group program for young people, creating Friends of Living and Learning Through Loss (LTL) which became a registered Canadian charity in 1994. Since then, Learning Through Loss have become the community experts at helping youth through grief and loss and bereavement while teaching others about the impact of grief on youth and how to better help them through.


Through our programs, workshops and counselling services, we reach thousands of youth each year. Our programs are built on the strength of youth peer support, belonging, and the often difficult terrain of navigating grief and loss guided by an experienced registered clinical counsellor. 


Educational workshops are provided to youth in schools and community organizations to enhance community awareness and knowledge about grief. Our community education and professional development workshops are available to communities across the island for anyone who want to learn more about how to better support youth through loss.


Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be.

Joan Didion

Our Mission

Learning Through Loss (LTL) designs and delivers grief and loss education and support programs to youth and provides professional development and  training to other youth-serving organizations to increase capacity and well being through grief, loss and bereavement.


Our Vision

We envision a community where all youth, and those that support them, have access to education, support, and resources relating to grief, loss and healthy strategies for well-being.


Our Values

Providing hope to youth, their families, and community members who are navigating grief and loss.

Providing professional resources to youth, their families, schools and community members to live, learn, and get through loss.

Working collaboratively with our community partners to support youth experiencing grief and loss.

Serving all youth, their families, and community members with integrity, professionalism, accountability and excellence.


Support a youth in need of support.


Our Executive Director



Executive Director

As Executive Director, Kathryn is focused on expanding and enhancing LTL services in support of one of Victoria’s important community organizations; ensuring youth experiencing grief, loss and bereavement have easy and barrier free access to grief supports. She is a skilled strategist, public relations and organizational development professional with more than two decades of experience in the non-profit sector. Kathryn has an established track record of working collaboratively with diverse stakeholders to achieve goals. Her life experiences have uniquely shaped her ability to understand the profound impact of loss and grief, especially on young people. 

Our Facilitators

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Program Director, Facilitator and Counsellor

David has been providing counselling to children, youth, adults, couples, and families for over nearly two decades. He possesses the tools and skills for guiding people to truly know their own inherent wholeness and how to work with the inevitable struggles of life like grief in order to harness and harvest the gifts and learning available. David completed his Masters degree in Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, is registered with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors and holds certifications and advanced training in areas such as complex trauma, grief and loss, anxiety and depression, addictions, diversity, nature-based therapy, and mindfulness.  When not counselling, he loves playing sports, exploring forests, and spending time with his family.



Facilitator and Counsellor

Gaylene has been assisting clients professionally for over twenty years in a variety of capacities, including as a registered clinical counsellor. Gaylene has worked with children and youth who have experienced sexualized violence and/or other forms of complex trauma, as a school counsellor in a First Nations school, and also maintains an established private practice. She led a team in assisting refugees and immigrants settle in Canada; and in Victim Services, she assisted people who were victims of crime and trauma. She has also worked in pastoral care. A Victoria resident since 2004, Gaylene’s own experiences with grief, trauma, and healing have informed her work, abilities, and passion.  She and her partner have two children; care for many animal companions; and enjoy the incredible natural surroundings of the southern island. 

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Facilitator and Counsellor

Maggie Reidy has a BA in Child and Youth Care and a Master’s in counselling from the University of Victoria. Maggie is a registered clinical counsellor with over 25 years experience working with children, youth, adults and families in a variety of settings. Her work experiences includes time as a Youth and Family Counsellor in an Alternate School, an Youth Outreach Worker, a clinician at the Child Abuse Prevention and Counselling Society, a High School/Middle School counsellor with Indigenous Youth, in addition to a thriving private practice for people of all ages. Maggie is grateful to live in Victoria with her family and is a dedicated facilitator at Learning Through Loss.




Ashley Gillies is a Process-Oriented Community, Somatic, Earth-based Therapist and Deep Democracy Facilitator. Gratefully living and working on Lekwungen Territory, Ashley maintains a private practice supporting individuals and couples through transformation, as well as providing teaching methods for somatic healing and relationship facilitation in colleges and workshop settings. Having lost both her parents at a younger age, Ashley trained in a wide array of approaches to grief work. Ashley is a facilitator with Learning Through Loss where she is able to offer knowing support and guidance to youth and families experiencing grief and loss. 


Noriko Oka, MA, RCC

Facilitator and Counsellor

For the past sixteen years, Noriko has been practicing as an expressive arts therapist and counsellor.  She has been fortunate to support children and youth from diverse backgrounds including LGBTQ+, neurodiverse, BIPOC, etc.  Most recently, she worked at the Victoria Youth Clinic, starting up the expressive arts therapy program there, and has also volunteered at Hospice Victoria. Noriko has been drawn to the field of grief and loss in coming to terms with the fluctuating nature of everyday reality and the potential of each moment.  Her approach is playful, somatic, mindful, relational and creative.  She is in private practice and sees individuals from across the whole spectrum of life.



Facilitator and Counsellor

Sarah has an BA from Vancouver Island University in Child and Youth Care, and a Master’s degree in Counselling from City University. Sarah is a creative, calm and respectful counsellor who feels privileged to have lived and worked on the traditional lands of the Quw’utsun people for over 15 years. She has worked in a variety of non-profit counselling organizations, VIHA, Cowichan Valley School District, Cowichan Tribes, and Child and Youth Mental Health.

Our Board of Directors

Are you interested in joining our Board of Directors? 
Download our expression of interest  form
and please email to info@learningthroughloss.org

Fanny Ngom

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James Amarelo



Peter Dohan



Diane Matthie


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Susan Tasker



Brendan Wright