Andrea Paquette, President, SFS, is the Society’s leader, however, she wears many hats for the Charity.
Andrea is a well-known Speaker/Presenter/Facilitator who lives well with bipolar disorder having been diagnosed for over 17 years. She holds a double major degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies and she has worked for the BC government in the areas of mental health and addictions, social development and education. She is certified in Mental Health First Aid and ASIST Suicide Prevention. She has also been trained and certified in the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Mental Health First Aid course.
Andrea is the 2015 Courage To Come Back Award Recipient in the category of Mental Health given by Coast Mental Health, the 2013 Mel Cooper Citizen of the Year in Victoria, among many more accolades. Andrea has also been awarded the President’s Commendation from the 2019 Psychiatric Association of Canada.
School & Community Presenter
Samara has a Bachelor’s degree in Equity Studies, Masters in Teaching and a Professional Development certificate in Youth Mental Health. She has worked with young people directly for many years in various capacities: in camps, after school programs, and in the classroom as an educator. She is extremely passionate about mental health, as well as equity issues, and understands these areas often intersect. Samara has been diagnosed with two learning disabilities, Dyslexia and Dyscalculia, as well as generalized anxiety disorder and situational depression. These diagnoses have positively informed the way she interacts with young people and have instilled empathy and compassion in her approaches to working with children and youth. Samara is very excited to be a part of the Stigma-Free Society team and is driven to create a future where all forms of stigma are eliminated and every person is able to be their most authentic self without fear of judgement.
Operations and Engagement Manager
Shirley has a Masters’ Degree in Social Work – Leadership (Complex Systems) with BSW Undergraduate Degrees in Indigenous, Rural and Remote Social Work and BA in Women’s Health. She is Certified in Adult Education, Conflict Resolution, Mental Health First Aid, ASIST Suicide Prevention and Beyond the Hurt (Anti-Bullying). Shirley is also a Director for the Health Quality Council of Alberta, Senator for the University of Calgary and Victim’s Advocate for BVVSA. Shirley has spent most of her professional career working in Indigenous, Rural and Remote social work capacities. For the past 15 years, Shirley has tinkered in social enterprise and measuring the impact of social initiatives when she wasn’t doing her lifelong learning. Shirley lives and works with purpose in mind – we must be the change we wish to see.
Executive Assistant – Program Coordinator
Cheryl is passionate about community and working with the Stigma-Free Society and the amazing work they do nationally. She is helping to support and ‘stomp-out stigma’ with her unique understanding and acceptance of various cultures due to her extensive travel history and significant network. Cheryl once had an active career as a film production coordinator in the BC film industry. She worked in the public health sector as a project manager in Vancouver and as an Executive Director in fundraising. She also recently worked as the Regional Coordinator for Western Canada as a marketing strategist for the technology incubator community. Cheryl is particularly excited to be working with and supporting the Stigma-Free Society’s President Andrea Paquette in developing and delivering Stigma Free Programs. Cheryl is skilled in public relations, communications, project management, event planning and appreciates the craft of admin work.
Content Creator, Writer & Editor
Robyn is a recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh’s Global Mental Health and Society program, where she completed her MSc research on the transformative potential of psychosis. She is a mental health advocate and award-winning filmmaker and uses compelling storytelling to foster compassion, understanding and humane treatment for those with mental health challenges. She is delighted to return to the Stigma-Free Society as a content creator. Robyn has also worked as a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) facilitator with the Mental Health Recovery Partners, has written content for a province-wide peer support curriculum project in BC, and has been invited to share her research at the World Hearing Voices Congress, the Mental Health Technology Transfer Centre Network, and the University of Edinburgh.
Rachel is currently majoring in Marketing Management at Langara College and a Co-op student working as a Marketing Coordinator at Stigma Free Society. For someone who enjoys creativity, she has experience in content creation and writing for social media. She has been endeavoring into the field of Marketing since high school; from taking leadership roles in the JABC Company Program to engage in Marketing activities, as well as competing in the YELL Venture Challenge to market new entrepreneurial ideas. Rachel is excited to work with Stigma Free Society to support the journey in fighting against all stigmas.
School and Community Presenter
Alensia is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Counselling Psychology at Adler University and is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a BA in Psychology. After struggling with her own personal mental health issues during her undergraduate degree, she began working in the hospitality industry as a hostess eventually ending up in management. Seeing the everyday struggles and addiction that is prevalent in this industry, she has been inspired to return to education and begin a career path to help and educate hospitality workers and young adults. She would like to contribute to a greater awareness and reduced stigma of addiction and help others manage their highly stressful lives with more positive coping mechanisms and community support. She is excited for this opportunity to work with Stigma-Free society, gain experience and continue to open and grow her own perceptions and worldview.
EJ is a School and Community Presenter for the Stigma-Free Society and is extremely passionate about mental health and LGBTQ+ topics with the intersectionality of both subjects. EJ is able to talk openly about their experience with their own mental health, sexuality, gender identity and the effects stigma has on it. As a non-binary person, and having recovered from addictions, EJ is a person living with complex PTSD and depression, who understands the importance of asking for help. They believe that we are able to change people’s lives and create meaningful change when we share our stories and experiences.
Gia K. is an 11-year old girl with a big heart and unique mind. She believes her dyslexia is a gift that gives her the ability to see the world in a different, exciting and refreshing way. For example, she likes to combine, flip and make up words. Gia is a “possibiltarian” – someone who believes in possibilities! Gia is a senior volunteer with Dolphin KIDS: Future-ready Leaders where she helps teach younger children important social, emotional and innovation skills. She is passionate about nature, team sports, art & science. Gia’s motto is “work hard, think positive, make the world a better place & have fun!” She would to love to talk to your school about dyslexia, how she overcame the stigma of a learning difference and why it is now her great gift!
School and Community Presenter
Cam Webster age 24, first hospitalized with Psychosis N.O.S. (Not Otherwise Specified) in July of 2014, less than one month after his 19th birthday. His illness developed and he was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder 2 years later. This came as a shock because there is no history of this condition or any other major mental health issues in his family. His passions includes science, history and sports. Cam has taught C.B.T. classes for Island Health and he has also taught W.R.A.P. (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) workshops through M.H.R.P. (Mental Health Recovery Partners.) Cam has been sharing his mental health story for 3 years now to try and raise awareness, break stigma and help others.