Andrea Paquette, President, SFS, is the Society’s leader, however, she wears many hats for the Charity. Andrea is also a passionate presenter for the Society and is an experienced 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.
Madeleine Pearce is the Programs & Partnerships Manager for Stigma-Free Society. She graduated Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French with a Concentration for Prospective Teachers. She is also trained and certified in Mental Health First Aid and has taken the Peer Support Worker Training with Robyn Priest LIVE YOUR TRUTH. Madeleine has lived experience with mental illness, having been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder when she was 14 years old. She shares her experiences and strategies for maintaining her mental well-being through her work with the Stigma-Free Society, while developing useful resources for the community and building meaningful partnerships with other organizations. She hopes that her contributions to the Stigma-Free Society will help reduce stigma around mental illness, especially for young people like herself.
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.
School & Community Presenter
Ellen is an English and Environmental Studies student at the University of Victoria and is excited to join the Stigma-Free Society team as their first Co-op student. She is responsible for assisting staff with communications and the development of Society programming. As someone who has spent a large part of her life in school, Ellen has experienced and witnessed her fellow schoolmates struggle to keep up with expectations in the classroom, while also balancing personal mental health needs. She believes that community care and authentic connection play a big role in her success as a person. In addition, Ellen attributes much of her healing to the natural environment, which has provided her support and comfort during difficult times. Ellen is passionate about sharing her story in the hopes that it will encourage others discover ways to prioritize their mental health through challenging circumstances.
Program Coordinator & Executive Assistant
Janet Bisset is currently the Program Coordinator and Executive Assistant at the Stigma-Free Society. Ms. Bisset began travelling at a young age, lived and raised a family in Europe, Eastern USA, Macau South China and returned to Canada in 1986. Over the years, she balanced mothering duties, education, a career in private enterprise and public health care administration. She is skilled in communications, organization, planning and foresight. Janet is passionate about working with the Stigma-Free Society for she feels the organization does amazing work. She is helping to ‘Stomp out Stigma’ with a unique understanding of various cultures due to her early and extensive travel. Janet is particularly excited to be working and supporting Andrea Paquette who leads the delivery of the Stigma-Free Zone Movement.
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.
Marketing and Communications Coordinator – Co-op Student
Fabian Heinrich is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the Stigma-Free Society. He is working as a co-op student from the University of Victoria, where he has been studying philosophy and applied ethics. His responsibilities at the Stigma-Free Society include social media management, content creation, and marketing strategies. Fabian is extremely passionate about eliminating stigmas of all kinds, including mental-health related stigmas, as he has had experiences with mental illness and other stigmas in his personal life. Fabian is excited to be participating in the cause of mental health education with the Stigma-Free Society.
Intern from Adler University
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.
Intern from Adler University
Brianna is a current doctoral graduate student studying clinical psychology at Adler University. She has an Honours Bachelor degree in Psychology and Thanatology, as well as a Certificate in Grief, Loss, and Bereavement Studies from the University of Western Ontario. Brianna has always held a strong interest in the field of mental health from a young age. This interest has paved the way for her educational training in the field of clinical psychology. Having endured significant personal and familial mental health challenges, Brianna hopes that these experiences, along with her clinical education will be a positive contribution to the Stigma-Free Society. Brianna is excited to bring her knowledge to SFS and is eager to foster an environment where stigma is eradicated and equality prevails.
School and Community Presenter
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.