Hands Up

About Us

Raison d’art literally means the "reason of art", a play on the French "raison d'être" which translates to "the most important reason or purpose for someone or something's existence."
In essence, our team brings the deepest purpose of art, our humanity, to each project.

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Who We Are

Raison d'art is a Montreal-based nonprofit that has been creating collective art projects here and abroad since 2007, collaborating with thousands of people in educational, community, and cooperate settings.

 

The world is changing faster than ever. Now is the time to work together so we can bring about positive sustainable change. 

 

We are a multidisciplinary team of artists, designers, developers, educators and researchers that are dedicated to finding innovative and repeatable solutions to social problems. Through public and private funding, we have produced two educational mobile apps, developed impactful programming for schools and community organizations, while also helping our cooperate clients align with their social responsibility.

Our Core Team

At the center of it all are four amazing women with a wealth of combined expertise in artistic, social, legal, and business ventures. 

Our Team

We believe that we are only as successful as our team.
The portraitX team is an incredible force, dedicated to  expanding on our mission to bring positive social impact to communities. We are a family of qualified researchers, educators, artists, technologists, creative minds and professionals in different fields who are bound by an undying passion to see the change we have envisioned together become reality. 
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Research partner - McGill University

DR. CLAUDIA MITCHELL

Claudia Mitchell, PhD, FRSC is a Distinguished James McGill Professor in the Faculty of Education, McGill University and an Honorary Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. At McGill she is the Director of Institute for Human Development and Well-being and the founder and director of the Participatory Cultures Lab at McGill. Her research focuses on participatory visual and arts based approaches to working with young people and communities in relation to addressing critical social issues such as gender equality and gender based violence. She is currently carrying out this work with Indigenous  girls and young women in a number of fieldsites in Canada and South Africa where the aim is to support girl-led/youth-led ‘from the ground up’ policy and community dialogue to bring about social change. She also works with research teams in a wide range of other country contexts to address gender based violence, including Sweden, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and India. She is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning journal Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. She has written extensively in the area of participatory visual methodologies: Doing Visual Research; and Participatory Visual Methodologies: Community, Policy and Social Change.

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Technology and Product Advisor

OLIVIA LI

With over 20 years of experience in tech, Olivia brings a broad set of skills from engineering, product development and management, content strategy, user experience design and more to turn ideas into tangible results. As a product leader and entrepreneur, she has lived through the rapid evolution of technology and contributed to products that have impacted our behaviours, relationships, and way of life, not always for the best. Her involvement in the startup community in Montreal as mentor, meetup organizer, and conference speaker led her to Raison d’art. In many ways, portraitX embodies her passion for applying technology in novel ways that inspire people to be part of positive changes in their communities and organizations. She is delighted to be part of a diverse and talented team bringing this creative and innovative program to schools across Canada.

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Junior Moderator & Social Media Coordinator

ABIGAIL LEVINE

As a part of the portraitX team, Abigail works on coordinating social media pages. Some of her favourite things to do include making and watching films, playing around with other forms of digital art, and hanging out with her cats. She has graduated from cinema-communications at Dawson College, where she received a certificate for gender studies specialization. She is currently combining her two passions of film and gender while studying film production and interdisciplinary sexuality at Concordia.

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Junior Moderator

HIND SAHER

Hind Saher studied Communications and Intermedia in Concordia University. There, she minored in Sociology and worked as an editor for the Academic Communications Journal and juggled with a variety of media. From video and sound production to creative programming and digital art, she is curious of all creative mediums, and aims towards socially conscientious and community based projects. Her work orbits towards subversive, critical and experimental styles and frames. In 2021, she got involved with portraitX as a facilitator, cultivating her passion for socially impactful art.

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Content Management & Translation

CLAUDIA LAMOTHE

Claudia is a recent graduate from Concordia University and a translator at the very exciting start of her career. Having held positions in legal and business translation teams, she is happy to have joined portraitX in a socially-driven project that allowed her to tune in to different skills as a content manager. She is excited to try out different things and shape out her path on the way.

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Youth Tech Development & Support

DAVIDE CATALANO

Davide is a recent graduate of the Computer Science Technology program at Dawson College. Starting his career, he has worked on both mobile and web front-end development. He believes that technology is best used for bringing communities together and to educate others. He is excited to work with an amazing team with such a powerful message.

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Research Associate

CHRISTINA CANTAVE

Christina is a graduate student and a lecturer at the School of criminology from University of Montreal. Her research focuses on the manner in which early experiences of adversity (e.g., child maltreatment, poverty) influence the activity of the neurobiological stress systems during adolescence, and how that relates to later risks for socioemotional and behavioural problems. In her PhD, she studies the regulation of cortisol, one of the hormones produced by the body to sustain adaptation to stress. More specifically, her thesis focuses on 1) the way genes and the environment combine to affect adolescents’ cortisol secretion within different socioeconomic contexts 2) and the impact of family socioeconomic status and social support on adolescents’ cortisol secretion. She is thrilled to help to investigate the many ways in which portraitX may potentially prevent teen dating violence.

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Lead Moderator

GRACE SKAHAN

Grace is currently pursuing her master's in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill. Her research explores young men’s involvement in gender-based violence prevention. She is broadly interested in issues related to gender, sexual violence prevention, and participatory education. Grace holds a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies and Political Science from Concordia University (2014). Since graduating, she has worked in community-based education, notably in the fields of human rights, violence prevention and sexuality. Grace is also passionate about the healing potential of movement which manifests in her own life as a love of yoga, running and cycling.

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Youth Tech Support

ELLFIE CHEN

Jack of all trades, master of some – Ellfie is a passionate fashion model and academic tutor based in Montreal. She has graduated from Cinema-Communications in college and is currently studying Psychology in university. With a background in computer science, she is in charge of tech support for portraitX. Ellfie has a fascination for anything creative and artistic, believing that beauty can be found in simple and unexpected places. She hopes to adopt a cat one day.

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Curriculum Designer

DR. CHLOE GARCIA

Chloe Garcia graduated with a PhD in Education from McGill University. Her doctoral research investigated the potential of YouTube, youth vlogs, and vlogging for teaching and learning about sexual consent. She specializes in sexualities education, media and digital literacies, youth participatory cultures, facilitation, and sexual violence prevention and activism. As a sex education consultant, her work ranges from program development and evaluation, to research and workshop facilitation. She continues to teach in the Faculty of Education at McGill University. She is proud to be part of the Raison d’art family!

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Copy Editor

TRACEY STEER

Tracey is a Montreal-based storyteller and writer of her everyday observances and occurrences. People are her most favourite subject of all. As a lifelong creative, she also constructs modern home décor miniatures for sport, and for sanity. She is wildly romantic in unusual ways, and she has a mouth that would make a sailor cringe. Her work has appeared in places like CBC Parent, Today’s Parent, Reader’s Digest, and Galaxy Brain. Photo credit: Andrea Hausmann of COCO HAUS Productions

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Lead Moderator & Research Associate

ALEX NOEL

Alex is a PhD student in the Department of Art Education at Concordia University in Montreal, QC. They are broadly interested in interdisciplinary artistic methodologies, fibre and textile practices, urban socio-ecological issues, and place-based pedagogies. Their dissertation explores how craft practices can be used to engage publics in matters related to urban ecology and sustainability. Alex has taught visual arts and social sciences courses at the undergraduate and secondary level and brings ten years of experience in community-based education for social and environmental justice to the team.

Alex holds a MA in Art Education (2020) from Concordia University, with past research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. They also hold a Bachelor of Education (2018) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (2015) from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Trauma-Informed Educator and Research Educator

CASSANDRA JONES

Cassandra Jones is pursuing a PhD in Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. She holds an MSc in Medical Anthropology from the University of Oxford. She has worked as a community educator and facilitator since 2011 using community and participatory arts-based practice to address issues related to gender, empowerment, and sexuality within schools and with underserved communities in Montreal. As a research assistant turned researcher, she has worked on various government funded projects on preventing gender-based violence, including cyberviolence and rape culture on Canadian CEGEPs and University campuses. With portraitX, Cassandra works as the trauma-informed educator and researcher, training moderators in survivor-centered and trauma-informed practices and research. 

As a death doula and research-practitioner, Cassandra’s PhD focuses on using participatory visual and arts-based methodologies to explore the sensorial therapies, practices of care and sensory environment of the hospital at end-of-life.

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Junior Moderator

FLORENCIA VALLEJO-ORTIZ

Florencia is a young Mexican immigrant, with a B.A. in Women's Studies and Immigration Studies. She has experience in community engagement and student organizing around issues of migrant justice, environmental activism, intersectional feminism, and movements in solidarity with BIPOC communities. She worked on the early focus groups for portraitX and is now a junior moderator of the program. She loves her cat Jicama and the warmth of the sun.

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Curriculum Consultant

ARON ROSENBERG

Aron is a high school teacher turned graduate student at McGill University. At McGill, he is involved with creative writing, gardening, activism, and mindful movement. Aron's research explores the hidden dimensions of the internet and the consequences of young people's digital lifestyles. His aim is to support educators' efforts to help students develop responsible and critical digital literacies. Aron will be spending the year 2020 offline.

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Youth Tech Development

JEFFREY BOISVERT

Jeffrey is a Software Developer and recent Computer Science Technology graduate from Dawson College. He has experience working as a Functionality Tester, Data Analyst, Peer Tutor, and Backend Developer. He believes it is important that youth are not afraid of technology but become better educated on how to use it. He is thrilled to volunteer at portraitX to help develop tools to help others.

Our Partners

We have the most amazing sponsors that support us on our initiatives.
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