Cascadia Crew

CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL is a group of people sharing the journey of awakening and transformation that we believe is the foundation of wisdom. Together, all of us are committed to learning from and with each other. We are not, therefore, a community where a few who think themselves wise teach those who come to sit at their feet. We are a community of co-learners, a community of companions on the Way.

This page identifies and introduces those who hold leadership roles in our community – or to follow the metaphor of the journey – the crew who will be responsible for guiding your passage. We are the ones who will be accompanying you as companions, mentors, and teachers – something that we count to be an extremely precious privilege.

David G. Benner, Ph.D.

David is the founding director of CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL and also its principal mentor and teacher. He, however, thinks of his role in our community as the skipper and navigator who helps us make our passage toward wholeness, alignment with the Spirit of Wisdom, and engagement with the world.

David is an internationally known depth psychologist and author whose life’s work has been directed toward facilitating not merely healing or even growth but the unfolding of the self associated with a journey of awakening and transformation. Walking this path with others in the Cascadia community is, as he is quick to say, the most important and exciting journey he has ever undertaken.

After completing his Honours B.A. at McMaster University and M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at York University, David completed post-doctoral training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis. Subsequently he held faculty appointments at numerous universities, colleges and seminaries in North America and served as Chief or Senior Psychologist in a number of clinics and hospitals in Canada and USA. He has also served as Consulting Psychologist throughout South America, Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. He has authored or edited more than 30 books that have been translated into 24 foreign languages, and has lectured and led retreats in more than 30 countries around the world.

David’s citations and honours include being named in International Men of Achievement, The Directory of Distinguished Americans, The International Book of Honour, Dictionary of International Biography, International Directory of Distinguished Leadership, Who’s Who Among Human Service Professionals, and Who’s Who in Theology and Science.

Beyond his work in wisdom acquisition and transmission, David’s other passions are sailing (or anything that gets him in, on, or near water), cycling, walking, jazz, good food and soulful conversation.

Sylvie Y. Vidaillac, M.A, M.B.A, CPHR

Sylvie works alongside of David in the leadership of Cascadia, sharing the overall responsibility for the architecture and culture of the program and serving as a mentor to program participants. The image of a conductor represents well her way of working with others as she channels the various flows that live in us to animate the instruments that we are.

Sylvie has taught in post-secondary education since 2004. Her holistic philosophy and practice reflect her conviction that the journey of transformation is both a personal and communal one. Intrinsic reverence for Life and interconnectedness, passion for learning and trust in the process of Self-actualization, and openness to the flow of organic change characterize her being and doing in life. Profoundly influenced by Carl Jung and Carl Rogers, she has increasingly come to know in herself and in many of her students, mentees and companions the centrality of spirituality in our quest for meaning, balance and purpose.

Sylvie holds a M.B.A from the University of Montreal as well as a M.A in Psychology from the University of Toulouse II (France). She has held faculty appointments at the University of British Columbia, the University of Montreal, and the University of Quebec. Following an initial career in administration in Europe and North America, she specialized in change management, leadership and organizational development and trained and coached executives, leaders and teams in their personal and professional development for 15 years. She has also worked in the fields of social work, mental health and school counselling. She is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources and currently a professor of human resources management at Okanagan College in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is also currently pursuing Doctoral studies in Ministry at St Stephens College, University of Alberta.

Music, fine arts, architecture and the wonders and gifts of nature and of our creative minds always leave her awestruck. She rejoices in meditative walks, inspiring cycling rides, and conversations with friends over delicious food.

Juliet Benner, B.A.

Juliet has worked in a variety of different roles, including high school teacher, church organist, liturgical artist, calligrapher, art gallery docent, and spiritual director. Her longstanding interest in art, theology and spirituality are the organizing threads of all that she has done. These come together in her special interest in the use of art as a resource in contemplation, and contemplation as a way to shift one’s center of gravity from head to heart – these things being at the core of the writing, retreat work and spiritual direction she has provided over the past three decades. Her passion for helping people learn see through the eyes of their awakened hearts lies at the core of her mentoring within Cascadia and beyond.

Juliet is much in demand as a speaker and retreat leader, her work in recent years taking her across Canada and the United States as well as to Singapore, South Africa, Malaysia, Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Her first book, Contemplative Vision: A Guide to Christian Art and Prayer, was published by InterVarsity Press in 2010. Beyond her interests in art and contemplative spirituality, Juliet is also passionate about cryptic crosswords, hiking, music, reading, and live theatre.

Martin Brokenleg, Ed.D, M.Div, OSBC

Martin is a retired priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, founder of the Anglican Canon Communities of St. Benedict, and prior of the Benedictine Community of St. Aidan in Victoria, BC. He is also an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who practices the culture of his Lakota people. His keen interest in the living wisdom of the indigenous peoples of the world is central to his role as a mentor within Cascadia Living Wisdom School.

Martin holds a doctorate in psychology, is a graduate of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was for many years the Director of the Native Ministries Program and Professor of First Nations Ministry and Theology at Vancouver School of Theology, and Professor of Native American studies at Augustana University of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Fr. Martin is co-author of the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk, and was the co-developer of the Circle of Courage model for working with youth at risk. He continues to provide worldwide training on behalf of Reclaiming Youth International and in recent years has consulted and led training programs throughout North America, New Zealand, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Find more about him at www.martinbrokenleg.com.

Brenda Stephenson, M.A., Ph.D. (ABD)

Born and raised in South Africa where she worked as a clinical social worker and then as a psychologist for 23 years, Brenda holds advanced degrees in both fields from University of South Africa and the University of Natal (Durban). She furthered her clinical training by subsequently completing an MA in clinical psychology from Wheaton College (Illinois), 1 year of doctoral studies at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and participation in a number of week-long intensives in Jungian psychology and dream work in Switzerland and South Africa. She is also a graduate of the Haden Institute for Spiritual Direction in the Jungian and Mystical Christian Tradition, and completed 5 years of study toward a Ph.D. in Psychology at North Central University (Flagstaff, AZ).

Brenda currently serves as a professor of psychology at Redeemer University College (Hamilton, Ontario). She is also a spiritual director and clinical practitioner of Jungian Psychology. She is particularly interested in the way people find meaning in their lives, and in the Jungian notion of creative suffering – not the madness of artists but the way in which a breakdown can form a container for transformation and the discovery of one’s most authentic self. Brenda’s lifelong work in unpacking the wisdom of depth psychology lies at the core of what she brings as a mentor to Cascadia. Listen to her discussing some of this wisdom in an audio interview that can be found at https://archive.org/details/BrendaStephensonPsychologistArtWaves17.