2019 CANIBD Conference Recap

CANIBD Conference booklet

On November 15th and 16th, over 60 IBD nurses gathered in Toronto for the annual CANIBD Conference.

pre-conference conversations

As the attendees entered the room, there were smiles, hugs, and waves as they all greeted each other like old friends.

Jennifer Stretton 

Jennifer Stretton, a nurse practitioner at the IBD Clinic at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, kicked us off with opening remarks. She noted how much CANIBD has grown, as has IBD nursing in Canada. She also took this opportunity to recognize both new and former members of the CANIBD Steering Committee, which plays an important role in guiding the work of this community of practice.


Many of our attendees were approaching the end of a long day having also attended the Meeting of the Minds conference, so dinner was a welcome way to begin. The buffet dinner did not disappoint. We were well-fed with seasonal vegetables, cozy soup, and different desserts.


Friends and colleagues shared a meal and some wine.

Kate Lee

With full stomachs, we returned to the conference room to watch a video introduced by Kate Lee, VP of Research and Patient Programs at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. The video featured a patient named Louis and our very own Usha Chauhan, and shared a message about why IBD nursing is important. This heartfelt story is part of a series of videos that will be released over the course of next year, coinciding with the International Year of the Nurse.

Marie-Louise Martin

Marie-Louise Martin, an IBD nurse practitioner from the University of Calgary, gave an insightful talk on cannabis, a topic of great interest to IBD patients. After summarizing studies on cannabis use among patients with Crohn’s and colitis, Marie-Louise concluded that cannabis may provide symptomatic improvement, but there is limited evidence on its efficacy.

Jason Singh

Jason Singh from Crohn’s and Colitis Canada presented a new IBD Self-Management App, MyGut. There were oohs and ahhs from the nurses as well as insightful questions that showed just how much they know their patients’ needs.

Emily Cordeaux

Next, Barbara Currie and Emily Cordeaux spoke about the IBD Nursing Fellowship Program. Barbara is an IBD nurse practitioner at QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax and Emily is the Research Grants and Evaluation Manager at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. They explained that the fellowship is an opportunity for IBD nurses to learn and grow through modules and mentoring. They were enthusiastic about the success of the fellowship program and encouraged people to apply. They did not finish without a song about friendship sung by Emily!

Usha Chauhan

Next we heard from CANIBD Research Grant Recipients past and present. Two years ago, Usha Chauhan was awarded the Nursing-Led IBD Research Grant. She presented her valuable work on patient perceptions of fecal microbiota transplants (FMT). Usha is an adult nurse practitioner at the McMaster University Medical Centre.

Usha and Irina

After her presentation, Usha passed the torch to this year’s recipient of the Nursing-Led IBD Research Grant, Irina Nistor. Irina is a nurse practitioner and is currently completing her PhD at Queen’s University. With the grant, she is studying the prevalence and incidence of discomfort in people with IBD.

Barbara Currie receiving nursing award with Mina Mawani

Speaking of awards, Barbara Currie received the Nurse of the Year Award at the Meeting of the Minds conference. This award recognizes a nurse who has made exceptional contributions to the clinical care of patients with Crohn’s or colitis. As a nurse, Barbara goes the extra mile to make sure her patients have the best access to health care, and always takes the time to explain their IBD. Congratulations Barbara!

Peter Habashi

“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you” (Dan Millman). Peter Habashi, a research coordinator and clinical nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital, presented his CANIBD-funded study on the use of cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety and depression in people with IBD. He provided an overview of the methodology and outcomes of the study; the results will be ready soon.

Kelly Phalen-Kelly 

Kelly Phalen-Kelly, a nurse practitioner at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, kicked off the second day of the conference walking us through the biological teaching tool that CANIBD is currently developing. This will be a comprehensive document that will help nurses explain various biological treatments to IBD patients in the clinic. Many nurses at the conference gave valuable feedback, and the draft will be sent around for more detailed feedback before being completed.

Karen Kroeker

Dr. Karen Kroeker from the University of Alberta Hospital presented on fatigue. To clarify, she spoke about fatigue in IBD patients, not nurses, although both are significant! Dr. Kroeker addressed how psychological factors, inflammation, anemia, nutrient deficiency, lifestyle, microbiota, and metabolic alterations can result in fatigue. She also outlined steps to help reduce fatigue. Dr. Kroeker highlighted how much she appreciates IBD nurses and how much of IBD care is a team effort.

Dr. Todd Urton

Next, the Queen’s University ophthalmologist, Dr. Todd Urton spoke about ophthalmological manifestations that can accompany IBD. He equipped the nurses with ways to distinguish between simple cases of dry eye and more serious cases of uveitis. Dr. Urton also noted how much he appreciates the interdisciplinary dialogue happening throughout the CANIBD and Meeting of the Minds conferences.

Dr. Glen Hazlewood

The final speaker was Dr. Glen Hazlewood from the University of Calgary, who provided an overview of rheumatological manifestations in IBD patients. He explained how to recognize inflammation-related joint pain in peripheral or axial spondyloarthritis. He furthermore emphasized the importance of collaboration and multi-modal treatments. Thus concluded the final talk of the 2019 CANIBD Conference.

attendees listening at conference 

Overall, the presentations provided a lot of valuable knowledge. Sometimes, the talks were thought-provoking.

attendees laughing at conference

Other times, the speakers made us laugh.

attendee asking question at conference

Over the course of the two days, many insightful questions were asked. The questions often sparked a larger conversation across the room, and showed just how much the nurses know and care about their patients.

attendees listening at conference

Throughout the entire CANIBD conference, nurses showed a lot of affirmation and validation based on all their shared experience.

We extend our sincerest thanks to all who participated in and helped to organize this event. We hope you will join us next year!

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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