Our guest today is Gemma who runs a business called Awkward Conversations. She works with teenage girls who experience bullying, peer and friendship issues. She helps them by looking at their experience from different perspectives, releasing emotional charges, creating new and empowering beliefs, and helps them take action to live the life they want. She teaches girls to be their unique selves, creating confidence and self-worth.

Gemma is passionate about helping teenage girls due to events and experiences from her own past and childhood. It’s an impressionable time when you start to form and cement your belief systems about yourself and the world. She realized as she got older that she could change her negative beliefs about herself and wanted to help teach these lessons to young girls so they could work through them earlier in life.

Joanne has a degree in speech pathology, audiology and English literature, and worked as a business office manager in finance, and as a credit manager at various organizations. She left her job to focus on a passion project developing a program for teens at risk. While doing this she began substitute teaching which took her on a path to becoming a high school teacher which she continued for 25 years.

Having worked both in the private sector as well as in schools, Joanne had an appreciation for how bullying that began at school had a tendency to continue in the workplace as kids grew up, often taking their bullying behaviours with them.

During the last eight years of teaching, Joanne developed a program that addressed bullying in the school, called Becoming Bullyproof. This program combined her tactics she used as a teacher in the classroom with advice and best practices that parents, students, teachers and administration can use to document, communicate and take action on bullying incidents. Joanne will describe this in detail later.

Workplace bullying is really insidious because it’s subtle, and often hidden or obscured beneath a base layer of fear and willful ignorance. It can literally destroy people’s lives, their health and their happiness. It can also completely sink an organization or company. So then, why does it still happen so often, and what can we do about it? I explore this topic with Dr. Tracy – a highly experienced educator, small business consultant, entrepreneur and master coach.

As you may know, I am a third degree black belt in Goju-ryu karate, and have been involved with traditional martial arts for much of my life. It’s actually the same style of karate from the show Cobra Kai. This is a two part episode. In part 1 I tell personal stories  about how martial arts helped me heal from trauma caused by bullying, what the main benefits were and what the whole experience was like. In part 2, my friend Mr. Harris Shahdin comments on his journey from student to martial arts teacher, and his unique methods for teaching kids.

Jessica was a bully for much of her childhood, intimidating other kids into giving her what she wanted and using fear to exert power and control over her life. Behind the scenes, Jessica struggled with many things – a poor home life, substance abuse, contemplated suicide at a young age. Today she is a huge advocate of kindness, compassion, benevolence and helping kids be the best versions of themselves. Listen to her story to learn how she found the strength to change who she was and how she chose to live her life. Listen to her insights on bullying and how it can be prevented and addressed.

Claudine is passionate about social work and mental health. She spent time working for a non-profit to help support new immigrants transition into Canadian life. She has also spent time with at-risk youth and the homeless population over the last 15 years. She worked to help them overcome various challenges in hopes of stabilizing their situation or the situation of their family unit. There are often mental health challenges, and issues with general family breakdown. They are seeking help figuring out how to fit in and determining their place in society.

Sheila was raised in England in the 1960s by her grandparents, aunts and uncles. Her mother was on her own and didn’t think she could handle raising her daughter. However, after four years her mother was working, married and wanted to take her daughter back. Being a very happy four year old, Sheila was terrified about ripped away from the only home and family she knew. She was forced to move to a distant city with her mother who she never knew and a strange man. When her mother was away at work, the step-father turned into a monster. The abuse went on day after day for about a year – verbal, physical, emotional and sexual.

For Emerson, bullying started early; around JK with teasing and generic name calling. He thinks it’s very important that schools should be teaching kids at a young age fundamentals about how to manage and understand their emotions. These are building blocks that he sees just as important as learning the ABCs or how to count to 10. He thinks that if kids can be taught to be more understanding and are better able to manage their own emotions, perhaps bullying wouldn’t be able to gain as strong a foothold, especially when kids are this young.

Ms. J is a mother of two kids, one of which had recently been involved in a terrible group assault at school. While this situation would be extremely upsetting for any parent, Ms. J has a really insightful way of looking at it which has helped both herself and her son get through the ordeal. With a background in sociology, she really seems to understand many of the underlying factors that played a role in the behaviour of everyone involved.


Rex sounds like a typical 10 year old. He loves Star Wars, playing video games and building with Legos. He is a fairly well-known and popular kid at school, and doesn’t have much history with bullying.

One day, a boy at school randomly tackled him in the morning, and Rex pushed him away. This boy seems to have gathered a group of boys throughout the day and planned to attack Rex later. About seven kids attacked him at recess, punching him in the face, holding him down and taking turns assaulting him. Teachers and supervisors were nowhere to be found. Rex suffered a concussion and had to stay home to recover for a couple weeks.