Peer Support Training for Rural Residents

In partnership with Robyn Priest LIVE YOUR TRUTH, the Stigma-Free Society is proud to announce our upcoming Peer Support Worker Training sessions, tailored specifically for rural residents in Canada. This two-day virtual course will be held on November 1st and November 8th (8am – 4pm PDT, 10am – 6pm CDT, 11am – 7pm EDT, with breaks). This training will equip participants to facilitate peer support programs and become leaders in their communities. 

These sessions empower individuals with shared backgrounds to work together to develop wellness-related skills. Taking this training is a great opportunity to find and provide support for mental health, along with those who understand your way of life!

What is Peer Support?

  The Mental Health Commission of Canada describes peer support as “a supportive relationship between people who have a lived experience in common.” The benefits of this approach to emotional and social support have been proven time and time again.

One of the most reputable Canadian providers of peer support training is Robyn Priest LIVE YOUR TRUTH, an organization that offers online training for both individuals and families. This training focuses on holistic approaches to wellbeing and practical strategies for promoting empathy and communicating effectively. Robyn Priest emphasizes that “peer support isn’t limited to mental health or addiction issues. It can be about anything anyone is going through; about life.” As human beings, we have a deep need for belonging. In addition to bridging gaps in professional mental health services, peer support can help us to build the connections we crave.

Peer Support in Rural Communities

Recent publications from the Mental Health Commission of Canada have emphasized that those living in rural and remote communities face specific challenges when it comes to maintaining wellness. These challenges include a relative lack of professional support services such as psychologists or counsellors. In these contexts, peer support is a great option. Because peer support is easily done over video chat, it can be a highly accessible resource.

No one understands the life and struggles of those living and working in agricultural communities better than those who have that shared experience. Training as a peer support worker will help you to translate that empathy into compassionate action. 

Key Benefits

Participants will gain an understanding of peer support fundamentals, as well as how to apply them in the contexts of one-on-one support and group facilitation. They will also learn how to share personal experiences in ways that help those facing similar challenges, including tips about demonstrating self-reflection and vulnerability while still maintaining professionalism. 

The training includes discussion and reflection on the importance of self-care as a regular practice, along with strategies for incorporating it into your daily life. Supporting others can be an emotionally challenging task, making it all the more important to take an intentional and holistic approach to your own wellbeing. 

Overall, participants can expect to gain valuable knowledge and skills that will help them to do work that is nourishing, caring, and empathic—as a peer support worker or a support group facilitator, and indeed in all walks of life.

This rewarding work opens up many opportunities to cultivate strong and supportive communities. The possibilities are there for you to discover!

Training and Registration Details

Tailored specifically for rural residents in Canada, this two-day virtual course will take place on November 1st and November 8th (8am – 4pm PDT, 10am – 6pm CDT, 11am – 7pm EDT, with breaks). 

Thanks to a generous grant from Pacific Blue Cross BC, this training is free of cost, with a $50 deposit required to secure your spot. Your deposit will be refunded once you attend the session, unless you choose to donate the $50 to the Stigma-Free Society. Donations are always welcome! Deposits for those who do not participate cannot be refunded. 

For more information and to register, please go HERE or email [email protected].

Spots fill up quickly, so register today! Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to build skills for cultivating empathy and understanding in your local community. 

Get trained to be a Rural Peer Support Group Facilitator and Support your Community!

Stigma-Free Society in partnership with Robyn Priest LIVE YOUR TRUTH are going to be hosting Peer Support Facilitator Trainings in the upcoming months as part of its Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit

Peer support is a way for individuals with a similar background to connect with each other and ensure that they are taking care of themselves on their specific needs and experiences. Peer support workers are trained on how to work with individuals with lived experiences that are reflective of their own and support from a place of empathy and understanding. This program is designed to truly empower both the support worker and the individual seeking support, as they work together, sharing experiences and developing wellness-related skills. 

The Stigma-Free Society is offering Peer Support Facilitator Training sessions four times a year, providing the opportunity for individuals to become certified peer support workers. Participants will be trained to become leaders of peer support groups in their community. Each training is tailored to support specific groups such as farmers, Indigenous leaders, rural youth and more. The training will be offered in partnership with Robyn Priest LIVE YOUR TRUTH, a remarkable organization that is currently offering online peer facilitator training for individuals and families. 

The first Peer Support Facilitator Training session will be a tailored training for Rural Women Entrepreneurs. Working as an entrepreneur in a rural area can often feel isolating, and many individuals struggle with a lack of support, which can lead to anxiety and burnout. No one understands the life and struggles of women living and working as entrepreneurs in rural communities better than those who have that shared experience. These unique challenges are best supported by those who have been through similar things and can empathize from a place of deep understanding.

In this training, Rural Women Entrepreneurs will gain an understanding of peer support fundamentals and learn how to apply them effectively when supporting their peers facing similar challenges. They will also learn how to effectively communicate and share personal experiences to enhance interactions as a peer supporter and support group facilitator. Participants will gain an understanding of the importance of self-care and how to apply this practice in their lives. Finally, and most importantly, individuals will learn how to become great peer support facilitators! This work is extremely rewarding and can lead to so many amazing opportunities for trainees.

Individuals who participate in this training will be able to apply the skills they learn to do work that is nourishing and steeped with care and empathy.

The Peer Support Facilitator Training for Rural Women Entrepreneurs will be a 2-day virtual course taking place on

July 21st and 28th , 2021, from 9AM PST – 5PM PST (with breaks).

Registration is by Donation to the Stigma-Free Society.

To register for this remarkable program, or a future training, please click HERE to visit our peer support landing page.

Don’t Miss the Stigma-Free Silent Auction! Open Until May 9th

We’ve Added to the Fundraiser!

The Stigma-Free Society’s Hope and Help Fundraiser for Mental Health has a new silent auction component!

The Stigma-Free Society is excited to announce the Mini Silent Auction as part of our Hope and Help Fundraiser for Mental Health! Mental health is such an important cause to be supporting, now more than ever. We need your help to grow and expand our initiatives that tackle mental health stigma, and stigma in all forms!

The fundraiser now has 3 components:

The Stigma-Free Stories Premiere Documentary (BUY TICKETS HERE),

The Live Stream Stigma-Free Marathon (DONATE HERE), and now the Mini Silent Auction!

The silent auction, which began on April 29th 2021 and ends May 9th 2021 at midnight, provides you the opportunity to bid on auction items from local BC vendors! All of the proceeds of this auction will go towards our impacting mental health initiatives and resources.

Some of the amazing auction items include: 

  • A $100 Gift Certificate to Robyn Constantia Designs
  • A $50 Gift Certificate to Good Omen
  • A $75 Gift Certificate to Luna Collective


Supporting this fundraiser will go directly to contributing to:

  • Program Development
  • Program Delivery
  • Helping our Charity adapt through this difficult time of COVID-19 and allow us to continue offering valuable educational mental health resources
  • Marketing and promotion of our programs by expanding the reach of the program.
  • Supporting our Stigma-Free Society staff financially
  • Engaging experts on mental health and education to enhance our programs

The programs you will be directly supporting include our Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit, Student Mental Health Toolkit and Virtual Stigma-Free Schools Program! Through your generous donation, we will be able to expand these resources and their reach in supporting the mental health and well-being of more people than ever!

Starting April 29th, join us for our Mini Silent Auction! And don’t forget to check out the other components of the Hope and Help Fundraiser for Mental Health!

Happy Bidding and Thank You to our Sponsors!

Join us at the Stigma-Free Society’s Hope and Help Fundraiser for Mental Health!

Mental health is such an important cause to be supporting, now more than ever. We need your help to grow and expand our initiatives that tackle mental health stigma, and stigma in all forms!

Taking place on May 5th 2021, this fundraiser event has a goal of raising $30,000 for our impacting mental health programs.

Here’s how your contribution will support this work:
  • Program Development and Delivery;
  • Helping our Charity adapt through this difficult time of COVID-19 and allow us to continue offering valuable educational mental health resources;
  • Marketing and promotion of our programs by expanding the reach of the program;
  • Supporting our Stigma-Free Society staff financially; and
  • Engaging experts on mental health and education to enhance our programs.

*The programs you will be directly supporting include:

Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit

Student Mental Health Toolkit

Virtual Stigma-Free Schools Program

Through your generous donation, we will be able to expand these resources in supporting the mental health and well-being of more people than ever! We are a Charity that is aiming for North American heights and we need your help!


The Fundraiser will have Two Components: 

  1. The Stigma-Free Stories Premiere Documentary – May 5th, 2021 @ 7:00pm (PST) (All Ages – Rated G)

 Click Here to Purchase Tickets for $25 each!


  1. Facebook/YouTube Livestream Stigma-Free Marathon – May 5th @ 10:00am – 2:00pm (PST)

This portion of the fundraiser will take place on two streaming platforms:

The Stigma-Free Society’s Facebook page and YouTube channel

More updates to come on this event!

Become a Sponsor of the Fundraiser:

If you want to get involved even more, you can sponsor the event! Sponsorship is also advantageous for you, and here’s how:

  • We will use our social media, websites, newsletter and more to promote your amazing foundation or business if you choose to sponsor us.
  • Number of Social Media Followers: 8,000+
  • Number of Newsletter Subscribers: 800+
  • All sponsors will receive Tax Receipts for amounts over $25 for their donation.

    You can donate to the charity directly by clicking here!

Check out the Fundraiser Tab on our website for more information about sponsorship levels from bronze to platinum!

At the Stigma-Free Society, we are continuously inspired by the support of our community. Your support is the reason that we are able to do such valuable and important work in breaking down stigma and supporting people’s mental health and well-being.

Thank you so much in advance for your support!

~The Stigma-Free Team

Meet our Stigma-Free Scholarship Winner Megan!

“I really had to grieve my changed sense of identity when I was diagnosed, at first, because I took it hard.”

These were Megan’s thoughts as she remembered the moment she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two years ago. Megan struggled with a lot of self-stigma and biases that had come from what she had seen in the media. It was a huge transitional moment.

We, at the Stigma-Free Society are so proud of Megan for all she has overcome and we are extremely excited to announce her as one of our scholarship winners for post-secondary education offered in partnership with the Otsuka Lundbeck Alliance!

Megan plans to put her scholarship money towards her education as she is currently enrolled in the Post-Degree Diploma in Accounting at Camosun College. She aspires to become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).

Throughout her undergraduate years, Megan excelled in her Math degree and was invited to fly across the country to present her research where she earned many accolades and was told her presentation was a favorite of the day.

We feel that this is an incredible achievement, particularly because this was during the time of Megan’s mental illness diagnosis.

About two years ago, Megan was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type I and faced a lot of stigma. Not only was Megan struggling with her own transition, but she realized that she was being treated differently by her community and even her close friends. This caused her to feel isolated during her undergraduate education.

She was able to find acceptance and compassion through her support group – one that she was recently able to reconnect with due to transitioning online this year.

Megan’s lived experience with bipolar has taught her to extend more acceptance, compassion, and kindness to others.

A big source of inspiration for Megan is her mother. She states that her mother is a life-long learner – something that has been passed onto her. In addition, her mother has always been encouraging and has been a huge source of support for her.

Given all that she has experienced, what advice would Megan give to her younger self and to others?

“Put yourself out there more”.

By putting herself out there, Megan has had so many opportunities that were previously stifled by negative self-talk. Megan’s message to others is: Be kind and do not judge others. We do not know what the people around us may be experiencing and the impact our words may have on them.

Congratulations on your scholarship and good luck Megan!

Author, Raman Dhaliwal, Stigma-Free Intern, Adler University


Meet our Scholarship Winner – Trisha Cull


We are extremely proud to introduce to you Trisha Cull, winner of the Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance and Stigma-Free Society Scholarship. Registered in the Inter-professional Mental Health & Addictions (IMHA) post-graduate program at Camosun College, Trisha will use this money to help pay for her tuition and books, something she wasn’t sure how she was going to pay for prior to being awarded this scholarship.

These scholarships are given to inspirational individuals who are passionate about eliminating stigma and who strive to make a positive change in the field of mental health.

Trisha’s Story:

Trisha had her first depressive episode when she was 16-years and diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder twenty years later. For years, she felt inadequate and weak for not being able to overcome her mental illness on her own and lived with a significant amount of stigma – some self-imposed and the rest from an abusive partner. Trisha also suffered from bulimia, self-medicated with alcohol and drugs, and struggled with low self-esteem much of her life.

Hope, strength and courage gradually replaced the stigma she experienced, lived and eventually overcame. She is grateful for both her failures and victories along the way as they have given her insight into what so many others experience and have helped shape the person she has become. Trisha no longer settles for abusive partners and recognizes her own strength and bravery.

At 46 years old, Trisha has published a memoir that details her journey with mental illness. She is already making a significant difference in the field of mental health and will continue to do so throughout her education and life.

Trisha aspires to work with youth, specifically, she is working towards becoming a mental health support worker for youth struggling with eating disorders. Trisha would also like to pursue an MA in counselling in the near future.

A message from Trisha:

When asked what message she would like to give to others Trisha said,

“If you are struggling, reach out and get help. It takes incredible strength to seek help, you have to be very brave to do that, especially in a society where there is so much stigma surrounding mental health and substance use. It is okay to ask for help. You are not alone.”

Congratulations on your scholarship, Trisha! We are excited to see the amazing work you are going to do in the field of mental health and to help reduce stigma. We are beyond proud to announce you as one of our scholarship winners. Good luck to you in school and your future endeavors!

Thank you to the Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance for making these scholarships possible.

Author, Cosette Leblanc, Stigma-Free Intern, Adler University

Our School Presentations Have Gone VIRTUAL

What a year 2020 has been!

As with most everything and everyone, the Stigma-Free Society continues to adapt to rules and regulations dictated by this incredible global pandemic we are living through. We’d like to offer our sincerest gratitude to everyone in the Stigma-Free community who continue to support us, get involved and expand our message through our online Toolkits, lesson plans and now our Virtual Stigma-Free School Presentations!

While we didn’t ever see our education programs having to go virtual, this is a reality and is, in fact, one that we are excited to launch and grow!

Before Covid-19 became a global pandemic, our Stigma-Free Zone School Program involved an hour-long, in-person presentation to elementary, middle and high schools. Topics varied depending on the age-group but the overall goal was to bring awareness, education and acceptance of various stigmas to students, oftentimes focusing on mental health. Our School Program has been running for 10+ years, reaching 50,000+ students across British Columbia, Canada.

We have always received extremely positive feedback from our in-person school presentations, so when Covid-19 became our reality, our team worked to develop a new way to continue to provide awareness and education to students through a virtual platform.

The most incredible thing? We truly believe that our new Virtual School Presentation Program will open doors to getting information and education to more schools and therefore – more students.

How Does it Work?

In our Virtual Stigma-Free School Program, educators and school counsellors will either receive 10+ professional documentary style short video clips (each 3-10 minutes in length) or one lengthier 50-minute professional documentary, depending on what topic(s) the school/educator/counsellor decides to focus on.

These videos encompass mental health topics and personal stories, accompanied by a Step-by-Step Guide for Educators with questions and activities for students.

After the videos are shown, one of our Stigma-Free Society Presenters joins the conversation with students via Microsoft Teams or Zoom (or whatever virtual platform your school uses) to provide an additional 10-15 minute presentation on their personal story. Subsequent to sharing their story, our presenter then provides an interactive Q&A session on the documentary and/or their personal journey.

For more information on our Stigma-Free Virtual Presenters, please CLICK HERE and scroll down to see all our presenters listed along with their strengths and topics of expertise.

In Summary, the Virtual Stigma-Free School Program includes: 

  • Pre-Lesson Plans that educators or school counsellors can use before the day of the Interactive Q&A session with Stigma-Free Society Presenters, including additional helpful resources and activities.
  • A Step-by-Step Guide for Educators to help guide students through the professional documentary style videos. This document includes“Guiding Questions” to help the educator/counsellor on the day that the interactive Q&A takes place.
  • The Documentary Style Video(s) decided on by the school/educator/counsellor in an easy-to-find format to help educate your students about stigma and mental health.
  • A Virtual Interactive Q&A with one of our Stigma-Free Virtual Presenters.
  • Follow-Up Stigma-Free Activities document, sent after your Presentation to help educators/counsellors continue the conversation on stigma and mental health throughout the year.

We hope that you’re as excited about this incredible opportunity as we are! If you think your school might like to participate or if you’re a parent that wants to get your school involved, please email us at [email protected] for more information.

Parents, educators, counsellors – let’s make sure our kids are educated on stigma, mental health and how to be kind, supportive individuals for life – not only as a maneuver through this global pandemic. What your child learns in our Virtual Stigma-Free School Presentation can be used throughout their entire life – let’s keep education on mental health at the forefront of our minds for years to come – these presentations could be the simple start to valuable life-long education.

Let’s get to it!

Author, Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager, SFS

Position Filled – Apply for the Stigma-Free Society Grant Writer Position today!

Please apply for the Stigma-Free Society Grant Writer position today! We are looking for a passionate, profound and persuasive writer! If you are passionate about mental health and also have experience with writing non-profit fundraising grants with meaningful success then please contact us!

The Stigma-Free Society is looking to hire a Grant Writer for on contract to write non-profit donor grant proposals for the Stigma-Free Society. The Grant Writer will write coherent, organized and compelling proposals. You will apply your knowledge of fundraising methods and plans to reach income goals alongside Andrea Paquette, President of the Charity. You will collaborate with team members in the organization to assist with your fundraising proposals.

To ensure success, you will be required to write in a compelling and strategic manner, have proficient knowledge of Charity fundraising methods and be committed to the Stigma-Free Society’s mission. Preferred applicants are deadline-driven team players with outstanding multitasking abilities and have a proven history of fundraising success for non-profits.

Grant Writer Responsibilities:

  • Display adherence to organization’s mission.
  • Maintain proficient knowledge of organization’s history and programs.
  • Identify grant funding opportunities.
  • Write, submit and manage grant proposals alongside President.
  • Collaborating with President of SFS and Full-Time Grant Writer.
  • Provide all records as final to the President, SFS.

Grant Writer Requirements:

  • 2+ years grant writing experience for charities.
  • Proficient with measuring and proof of reaching income goals.
  • Proficient with MS Office Word and Excel.
  • Excellent knowledge of fundraising information sources.
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written.
  • Strong people skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Ability to meet strict deadlines.


[email protected]  

Position is Filled. No phone calls please.

Apply Today for a $2000 Stigma-Free Scholarship for Post-Secondary Students

The Stigma-Free Society is extremely proud to announce that we are once again partnering with Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance to offer TWO deserving post-secondary students a $2000 scholarship to be allocated toward their educational pursuits.

This is the third year that the Society has been able to provide these amazing scholarships and it is because of our valuable relationship with Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance. We are proud of the work each recipient has completed over the past few years in the area of educating themselves on how to help eradicate stigma through awareness and education.

Scholarships will be awarded to two students, who have experienced or are currently experiencing the effects of stigma because of mental illness, LGBTQ2+, homelessness, race or addictions issues. Additional related experiences will also be considered.

Criteria to apply:

  • Be a current Resident of British Columbia, Canada;
  • Must have dealt with, or are currently dealing with the effects of stigma in their life;
  • Complete an application form with Cover Letter for the Society’s review;
  • The Society hopes to feature each student’s story on their website and anonymity is also permitted if preferred;
  • Must be accepted and registered at an accredited educational institution for the Spring 2021 Semester.

The Stigma-Free Society works to raise awareness and mental health education to students, parents and educators on how to help stop stigma. We provide space for those who have been on the receiving end of stigma and offer support, understanding and acceptance.

Applications are now closed.

Thank you.

Thank you to the Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance for your generosity as these scholarships would not be possible without your financial contribution.


Author, Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager, SFS

We Reached our $20k Goal! THANK YOU!

A Warm and Grateful Message from the Stigma-Free Society Team…

We had an INCREDIBLE week last week with our first ever online fundraiser “”Helping Stigma-Free Society During COVID-19”. Through the generous support of the beautiful community around us, we reached our goal of $20,000 and we couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who donated and who participated in our event.

Throughout the day we had interviews and information sessions about stigma, mental health, how COVID-19 is affecting us and, of course, information on our online COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit.

Donations came in throughout the day and with every donation our confidence grew. Not only did our confidence grow in being able to achieve our financial goal we had set for ourselves, but also in the work that we do as a charity. With every donation, people were not only supporting us financially, they were also letting us know that they appreciate and believe in the work we do, encouraging us to continue to grow and expand.

Our work is important and will continue during these unprecedented times – this message was heard loud and clear from all who supported, and continue to support us.

What are we going to do with the donations? Great question. Below are just a few ways we’ll be allocating the donations within our charity:

  • Convert the Stigma-Free COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit into a General Wellness Toolkit;
  • Add new sections to our General Wellness Toolkit, including  “Defeating Racism during COVID-19” and “How to Help a Friend with Mental Health Issues”;
  • Create and develop new resources such as an Online Distress quiz and a comprehensive Guide for Parents on helping their child struggling with mental health;
  • Sustaining the significant cost of the Youth Toolkit program;
  • Write, create and develop new initiatives such a Wellbeing Toolkits for various other demographics that will reach an even larger audience and will help us branch out from our focus on youth;

Once again, thank you to those who took time out of their busy schedules to be a part of our online fundraiser. Thank you to those who supported us with messages, comments and emails throughout the day. And THANK YOU to the many, many people who donated before, during and after the fundraiser to Stigma-Free Society.

A special thank you to those who donated on behalf of Jaime Traynor. Our deepest love, gratitude and appreciation to you and your loved ones. We will honour Jaime’s memory with our good work and promise to continue to help educate and raise awareness on various stigmas, with a focus on mental health. Jaime – we miss you and love you.


We are beyond grateful.

Author, Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager, SFS