Therapeutic Programs

Our therapeutic programs are not intended to take the place of counselling programs or other prescribed therapies, but rather as another support tool to help us help young people become responsible adults. While most of the young men that we serve at Fernie have broken the law, we recognize that a lot of the behaviors are adaptive coping strategies rather than pathology. With an emphasis on self-expression, cultural empowerment and sensitivity, we believe that our collaborative-wrap around approach will not only reduce the psychological effects of trauma, but will also decrease future criminal behaviour/recidivism.

Hip Hop Healers (HHH)




Hip Hop Healers (HHH) is a unique 12-week trauma-informed therapeutic program that engages and supports youth (16-26 years of age) who are at-risk of and/or who have come into contact with the law.

Our program is the first in Canada to utilize a holistic-wrap around approach that includes a teaching artist (i.e. sound engineer/producer), clinical social-worker, peer mentor and case worker to support justice-involved youth. HHH draws on the elements of Hip Hop (e.g. rap, beat-making and graffiti) to give “voice” to youth who have often been oppressed, marginalized and silenced by not only the criminal justice system, but also broader society. Further we also recognize the multiple forms of trauma (i.e. structural, interpersonal community violence) that youth have experienced across their life-course and how this may have contributed to their criminal behaviour.

We use Hip Hop therapy and a strength-based perspective to help youth build resiliency against the risk-factors that have led to their contact with the Youth Justice System. As such we strive to help youth move away from justice involvement, while also supporting them through their stages of change.


Hip Hop Healers at Fernie Youth Services seeks to provide justice involved youth with a safe space to discuss, reflect and work through the traumatic experiences that have impacted their lives. For example, our program, incorporates the elements of Hip Hop (i.e. music production, graffiti and rap/writing) with informal/formal therapies (e.g. narrative/music therapy) that are conducive in not only reducing the traumatic effects of past life events, but also risks associated with recidivism/criminal behaviour. Hip Hop Healers and Fernie Youth Services believes that if we are able to treat the trauma, then we may be able to break the cycle of behaviours that proliferate the risk of contact with the criminal justice system.

Our program engages youth (16-26 years of age) through the culture of Hip Hop.  We have chosen Hip Hop as an engagement tool because it has been a vehicle for urban/gang/justice involved youth to express themselves for over two decades. Although there are other community-based initiatives that use Hip Hop as a tool to work with ‘vulnerable’ youth, few have demonstrated the capacity to integrate and deliver psychotherapy within their program framework. Subsequently, these programs have often been labelled as “leisure activities” as they do not have the resources and infrastructure to deliver trauma-based services. Recognizing this gap, Hip Hop Healers and Fernie Youth Services moves beyond the leisure approach to youth support, by providing them with a more in-depth program that not only helps build mentoring relationships and social attachment, but it also gives youth an opportunity to address unresolved trauma through the mechanism of Hip Hop therapy.



Adam Ellis, PhD(c), Vanier Scholar

PhD (Candidate) Adam Ellis was named a 2016 Vanier Scholar in support of his upcoming doctoral project, “Reconceptualizing Urban Warfare in Canada: Exploring the Relationship between Trauma, PTSD and Gang Violence.” In 2018 Adam also became a top 25 SSHRC Storyteller with respect to his research on trauma, PTSD and gang violence. Adam’s doctoral work is inspired by his own lived experience within the gang sub-culture. Adam is not new to the field of criminology. With an MA in Immigration and Settlement from Ryerson University, he has worked on several research projects focusing on mental health and the law, including topics on gang violence, organized crime and refugee determination. He has provided consultancy on mental health and criminal justice-related issues with a variety of public and private institutions including the City of Toronto, United Nations, At Home Chez Sois Project, the Provincial/Federal Courts, the Ontario Review Board, and community organizations interphasing between mental health and justice. Adam is currently developing his first edited text “Thug Criminology”. Adam is also currently designing and implementing a number of community programs to disrupt street-related violence in the GTA.


Tammy Tinney, MSW, RSW

Tammy Tinney is a clinical social worker working in the field of forensic mental health. She completed a double-major Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph in Criminal Justice & Public Policy, and Sociology, followed by a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto. Hearing her patients’ life experiences of discrimination, marginalization, and trauma inspired Tammy to start advocating for systemic change by identifying and addressing barriers and gaps within the mental health and criminal justice sectors. Tammy is particularly passionate about providing clinical counselling to individuals who are living with PTSD as a result of street and gang violence. She doesn’t believe in a gold-standard approach to treatment and individualizes her treatment plans by finding creative ways to help her patients. Recognizing the limitations of widely-known therapies such as CBT when treating trauma, Tammy emphasizes the importance of connecting the mind-and-body and draws heavily on mindfulness practices and the power of body movement. Throughout her clinical career she noticed a pattern of coping strategies among her patients—music, sports, fitness. In her clinical practice she has successfully incorporated hip-hop and rap into therapy sessions as a way to build rapport and introduce other treatment modalities. Currently Tammy is focusing on how to expand her trauma-informed music therapy approach to individuals in need and she also wants to engage in qualitative research to demonstrate the benefits this approach to therapy can have.



Tyrone Rickaby

Tyrone Rickaby is a skilled Youth Worker with a tremendous passion for hip hop, rap and music. His ability to connect with youth, humble personality and experience in the music industry has definitely made his involvement an asset to the Hip Hop Healers Program. He has advanced experience with mixing, engineering and writing.

Tyrone is a firm believer of Fernie Youth Services’ Caring Beyond Reason© philosophy and his work and personality stands by it. By serving as a positive male role model for supported youth, Tyrone quickly builds meaningful relationships while promoting positive mindsets for all who come in contact with him.

Tyrone plays a key role at Fernie Youth Services and supports a few different programs being offered. He is involved in the Transitional House Program, Fernie Works Employment Program and, now, the Hip Hop Healers Program.

Tyrone Rickaby is trained in CPR/First Aid, Understanding and Managing Aggressive Behaviour Training (UMAB), Applied Suicide Intervention Training (ASIST). Also, Tyrone has a Paralegal Diploma (Durham College), Community and Justice Services Diploma (Centennial College) and is currently looking to complete his Bachelor of Arts.



Jason Campbell

Jason Campbell has been steward of the Fernie Youth Services social media feeds and marketing efforts for the better part of 2 years, where he has made great strategic strides in promoting and branding the good work of the organization. Jason has also helped to establish an authoritative voice for Fernie’s on-line presence in the Youth Justice space. In the 5 years prior to his work with FYS, Jason co-founded Temple Toronto – a “Locals-Only” retail streetwear shop in Kensington Market, that exclusively sold clothing designed by aspiring young Canadian designers from all across the country. Jason served as one of the designers for the shop’s own in-house brand and as “shopkeeper”, where he managed the day-to-day operations while guiding many (inspired but uninitiated) youth through the process of developing ideas into sustainably sourced, marketable products. Jason has also had several passionate years of experience in the music industry, as a performer and a facilitator, working as a concert promoter, booking agent and tour manager for many years.

Jason has a diploma in Arts & Cultural Management (Arts Admin) from MacEwan University (Edmonton), a Business Administration diploma from Sheridan and is looking forward to using his unique mix of professional and life experiences towards helping HHH reach its goals of helping youth find their voice.



We accept referrals from Probation Officers, Social Workers, Custody Facilities and other professionals working with youth. We also accept self-referrals from youth who are in need of our services. Previous youth justice involvement is a requirement for participating youth.


To make a referral or ask a question please contact:

Emery Warner, Manager of Community Services, or 647.278.3824.


Adam Ellis , PhD(c), Director of Hip Hop Healers, or 437.345.5917

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P.O. Box 273 Pickering, ON, L1V 2R4 416-284 3711