First Graduating Class of Art Therapists in Central Canada!

On November 11th, the Winnipeg Holistic Expressive Arts Therapy (WHEAT) Institute celebrated the first graduating class of Art Therapists in Winnipeg at the historic St. Norbert Arts Centre.

As the only art therapy training institute in central Canada we celebrated and honoured our first graduating class of Art Therapists on Sunday, November 11th at the St. Norbert Arts Centre with prayers, a smudge, a ceremony, open mic, dance and bonfire. It was a dynamic, fun and memorable evening!

WHEAT Institute offers top-quality training programs in Art Therapy, Expressive Arts Therapy and (new for 2019) Therapeutic Clowning. Established in 2014, WHEAT accepted its first cohort of Art Therapy Diploma students in 2016.

Hailing from Winnipeg, rural Manitoba and rural Saskatchewan, WHEAT grads work in a variety of art therapy related disciplines and have engaging stories to tell of their research and their journeys to realize their dreams of becoming art therapists.

We launched seven talented and compassionate new art therapists into the world with our first annual graduation. There were prayers by the fire and drum song, grand entry with the big drum, photo slideshow of our two years together and lots of attention to the diverse and interesting research these grads carried out on route to becoming art therapists.

Thank you to everyone who attended and helped make this a night to remember! Special shout outs to our grads and their friends and families, instructors, students, supporters and friends of WHEAT Institute and WHEAT Director Darci Adam.


Class of 2018 (five of seven graduates) with Dr. Christine Lummis and WHEAT Director Darci Adam (centre)

View the full photo album on the WHEAT Facebook page. Congratulations to our class of 2018!

Art therapy provides an alternative, cooperative and creative approach for addressing emotional and psychological difficulties with a firm basis in psychodynamic theory and developmental psychology. The Art Therapy Diploma at WHEAT is an intensive program spanning the course of two summer intensives, online coursework, practicum experience and supervision, and a final research project.

“Art therapy combines the creative process and psychotherapy, facilitating self-exploration and understanding. Using imagery, colour and shape as part of this creative therapeutic process, thoughts and feelings can be expressed that would otherwise be difficult to articulate.” - Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA)

Meet the Class of 2018


Dawn Chaput came to Art Therapy with a background in community resources and the arts. She is grateful to bring these two paths together through art therapy, along with her belief that we are all on a healing journey. She is dedicated to the decolonization of therapeutic practice and centers her work around a holistic view that integrates all aspects of wellness through a person-centered lens. She is passionate about being a helper in a way that supports people in finding their way, through the art process, to wellbeing.


Donna Garofalo is currently the children's counsellor with Eastman Crisis Centre's Agape House shelter for women and children. Delivering art-based programming through Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, the St. James School Division, the Steinbach Arts Council and various home school collectives, Donna has worked directly with thousands of children across the province. In her artistic practice, Donna has exhibited work in a variety of gallery settings and her work is held in private collections across Canada, the U.S. and overseas. Donna now uses her experience to support the process of healing for children and families seeking to move beyond the negative effects of domestic abuse. Donna's approach unites thoughtfully applied art therapy interventions rooted in a supportive framework of child development, attachment theory and current understanding of neurobiology. Donna holds a BFA (Honours) and a BA (psych) from the University of Manitoba. Donna has completed her coursework and will be completing her thesis and practicum hours in 2019.

Angela Meyer graduated from the WHEAT Institute as an art therapist after working as a social worker for over 15 years following graduation from the University of Manitoba with a BSW. She has a passion for working with the images that facilitate one to become the greater expression of one’s authentic self. She has a person-centred philosophy and utilizes a variety of approaches tailored to the individual. These approaches include a psychodynamic approach, cognitive behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing, mindfulness, solution focused therapy, attachment theory and an existential approach. She has counselled individuals and groups and has facilitated an open art studio for over five years. She is currently employed at Sara Riel Inc. as a social worker for over 10 years and has extensive experience working with individuals experiencing mental health difficulties.


Joye Platford completed her expressive arts therapy training with Darci and shortly after enrolled in the art therapy diploma.She describes herself as a daughter, sister, auntie, ordained Presbyterian minister, teacher, cancer survivor, friend and ally. Her thesis was 'Eve and Me.' It is a look at women’s understanding of Eve in the bible as an archetype and how that effects their own spirituality and self understanding. Eve and woman have been blamed for many downfalls of the world. But that only comes from a Western Christian worldview - such is not the case for Eastern Orthodox Christians or Aboriginal Spirituality or many other faiths. When women look at the story of Eve closer they can find strength and resilience. Instead of looking for the original sin, we can look for the original blessing, "We were made in the image of God, male and female.' We are loved, Women and men - all people are children of the Creator.  

Dana Stefanson BFA, DWHEAT, is an emerging art therapist with a background in the arts and education. Dana is passionate about using art therapy in closing the gap between the available services for mental health treatment and the growing need for innovative, culturally sensitive, holistic, accessible care. She believes that by treating not just the whole person, but the whole family, the whole community, with a natural, expressive, intergenerational approach, the cycle of trauma can be addressed, and a healthful transformation achieved. Her roots in rural Saskatchewan and involvement with many community organizations have shown her that in difficult times if people can come together with care and support, any obstacle, injury, grief or trauma can be overcome.

That is why Dana believes that an important piece of the puzzle is making mental health services accessible, especially for marginalized populations, by offering it in community settings. She is interested in suicide prevention, improving educational and mental health outcomes, reconciliation, relationship building, empowerment, and lifelong learning. Dana operates an open art studio and private practice, and works as an education assistant.


Joanna Watt graduated from Lake Forest College in Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts (1999), double major in Studio Art and Communication. After immigrating to Canada, she completed her Art Therapy Diploma (2018) with WHEAT Institute. Joanna has worked as a Mental Health Proctor III for Prairie Mountain Health since 2012. Her private practice, Pipestone Art Therapy, is located in the RES Center in Reston, Manitoba. Working with agency’s from Southwest Manitoba and individual clients of all ages, Joanna is passionate about making mental health services accessible to rural communities.


Sue Weldon is a mother, grandmother, educator and art therapist who first discovered the transformational power of art as an adolescent. She has since used the creative process to parent, teach, and to heal. She currently works as a resource teacher with adolescents with intensive needs in a school setting, where she bears witness to the transformative power of art in others.

November 15, 2018

Learning to listen,

in colour.

Follow us:

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • YouTube - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle