Andrea Paquette

Andrea Paquette, President, Stigma-Free Society is a Presenter for the Stigma-Free Zone Classroom and Community Presentations Program. Andrea is an experienced Speaker, Presenter, and Facilitator who lives well with bipolar disorder. She holds a double major degree and 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 has also been chosen as a national spokesperson for the Canadian Alliance for Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) sponsored by Bell Let’s Talk. She is named the Provincial 2015 Courage To Come Back award winner given by Coast Mental Health, received the 2015 Top 20 Under 40 Award from Vancouver Island’s Business and Community Awards, 2013 Mel Cooper Citizen of the Year Award in Victoria, British Columbia, and the 2013 Award for Mentorship from the National Council for Behavioral Health, Washington, D.C.

Carol Todd

Carol’s world tragically changed when her beloved daughter Amanda took her life after a struggle as a victim of cyberbullying, online exploitation (sextortion) and ultimately, mental unwellness as a result of the traumatic events in her short life.  Through the pain of losing her daughter, Carol courageously took a stand and shared Amanda’s story with her community and the world. Little did she know she would soon be thrust in to the spotlight as a global advocate sharing the voice of her beloved daughter and increasing awareness of bullying in all forms and mental health issues in our young people.

Carol has channeled her grief and professional skills as an educator to become a voice of change. In honour of her daughter, Carol founded the Amanda Todd Legacy Society, which is focused on building awareness and improving the well-being of individuals with respect to bullying, cyber abuse, internet safety and mental wellness. As a result of her courage, determination and ultimately the love of her daughter, Carol has become one of the world’s most innovative leaders in the fight for online safety for children. Carol believes in working hard for a change, and has become a true example of the unwavering human spirit though her fight to end bullying and the stigma regarding mental health in youth.

Robyn Thomas

Robyn Thomas is the Community Development Manager for Vancouver Island and she is passionate about working with the Stigma Free Society. Robyn wears many hats for her role and acts as an inspiring classroom and community presenter. Robyn is also the Lead- Facilitator for the Society’s Teens2Twenties Support Group. She is dedicated to supporting youth living with mental illness, while encouraging all people to lead fulfilling and connected lives. Her personal story has ignited a passion in Robyn’s heart to tell her own remarkable mental health journey of hope and resiliency. She is driven to shatter stigma and challenge the societal beliefs that fuel hurtful stereotypes and isolate many experiencing struggles. She wants people dealing with stigma, and particularly mental health issues, to know that they are not alone and everyone can lead inspiring and beautiful lives. Most importantly, Robyn encourages us all to be more compassionate with one another and make a meaningful contribution to creating a world free of stigma.

Chris Richardson

Dr. Chris G Richardson is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. His program of research is focused on examining the relationships between aspects of biopsychosocial development in adolescence (e.g., impulsivity, sensation seeking, resilience) and patterns of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and other drug use. He is also a Scientist with the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcomes Sciences at St. Paul’s Hospital and research lead for the Inner City Youth Program (see http://mh.providencehealthcare.org/programs/inner-city-youth) where he works with a team of mental health clinicians to examine the impact of mental illness, substance use and homelessness on the psycho-social functioning of youth and young adults. In addition to his academic experience, Dr. Richardson has spent several years as a frontline worker in a variety of group home settings for homeless men and has served a member of the board of directors for From Grief to Action – a non-profit group providing support and advocacy for families dealing with a loved one’s addiction.

Anisha Navaratnam

Anisha developed a keen interest in mental health education in her high school years after her friend talked openly about her struggles with depression and bipolar disorder. After going through her own difficulties with her mental health and witnessing the impact it had on those around her, Anisha realized the gap in how these issues were rarely, if ever, discussed in the classroom setting. She began working with education professionals around the Lower Mainland to develop a curriculum on these issues and hopes to see it one day integrated as a part of the official BC curriculum in the near future. Anisha Navaratnam joined the Stigma-Free Task force in January of 2017. She is currently attending the University of British Columbia and pursuing a degree in geological engineering. She enjoys the outdoors, working with children and volunteering as a first responder around the Lower Mainland.