Let’s Talk Stigma Reduction! 2021: Speakers and Program

Schedule for the day, June 11, 2021

9:30 – 10:00 Sunrise: Welcoming by Elder Sempulyan Stewart Gonzales of Squamish
10:00 – 10:15 Introduction: Breaking Down Silos – The plan for the day
10:15 – 11:45 Morning: Fireside Conversation & Discussion

A moderated discussion focusing on the ideas, information, and experiential elements of intersectional stigma.

Moderator: Anita David
Speakers: Sekani Dakelth, Charlene Burmeister & Jessy Dame

11:45 – 12:30 Mid-day: Rest, replenish, lunch


Lunch time cooking class with Katsistohkwí:io Jacco


12:30 – 1:00 Welcome back: Drumming by Candice Norris and introduction to rest of the day
1:00 – 2:45 Afternoon: Presentations / Discussion

A series of short presentations highlighting stigma reduction work in BC with a chance for Q&A with the presenters.

Presentations by: Heather McCain, TJ Felix, Kathryn Proudfoot, Victoria Maxwell, Katie Mai, Nicolas Crier, Laura “LT” Todd, Patience Magagula, Scott Neufeld and more.


2:45 – 3:00 Sunset: Closing

Wrapping up the day



Sempulyan Stewart Gonzales

I am a Two-Spirit Male of Musqueam & Squamish ancestry, a proud father of 3, very proud grandfather of 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.




Fireside chat (morning session)


Anita David (moderator)

Anita currently works at the BCCDC as a Peer Mentor for GetCheckedOnline. She also works as a Peer Research Associate / Community Based Research Consultant for various community organizations, universities and health authorities in British Columbia. Her favourite part of research is engaging marginalized communities through meaningful connections. She has created programs and taught skills in community based research, storytelling and public speaking to people with lived experience of mental health and/or substance use. Anita is also a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Wellness Facilitator and has participated on over thirty healthcare committees/projects as a patient partner. She is also member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Hallway Group – a lived experience committee that advises on strategic initiatives to improve the lives of Canadians with lived (or living) experience of mental illness. In 2019, she had the opportunity to write and perform a dramatic piece about her mental health journey entitled, “Champagne and a Soaker Tub”.


Sekani Dakelth

Sekani Dakelth is from the Tl’azt’en Nation and calls the Downtown Eastside home. She is passionate about trans rights, sex worker rights and harm reduction. Like many of her peers, Sekani knows firsthand how stigma around drug use acts as a barrier to accessing healthcare. More information: Speaker’s Bureau



Charlene Burmeister

Charlene Burmeister has over 12 years of experience in peer engagement and leadership, and holds several roles including the People with Lived and Living Experience (PWLLE) Stakeholder Engagement Lead for the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), the Provincial Peer Coordinator for the Compassion, Inclusion, and Engagement Project (a partnership between BCCDC and First Nations Health Authority), and is the Founder and Executive Director of the Coalition of Substance Users of the North (CSUN). She is also a board member of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs. (CAPUD) Charlene was one of the first members of the provincial advisory committee, PEEP in 2015 and continues to inform provincial harm reduction policy using her expertise and leadership. More Information: Coalition of Substance Users of the North (CSUN) | Toward the Heart |  [email protected]


Jessy Dame

Jessy Dame is a very proud Two-Spirit, Métis, Certified Registered Nurse. Jessy’s family is from Treaty 1 and 2 territory, which is known today as Winnipeg and St Rose-du-lac. Jessy has worked within Neonatal/Postnatal health. He currently works casually within a queer sexual health clinic in downtown Vancouver and as the Two-Spirit Program Manager at the Community-Based Research Centre. Within this position, Jessy is able to work with and for the Two-Spirit community to create resources and advocate for services. More Information: Please visit CBRC or email [email protected]


Afternoon presentations


Heather McCain

Heather McCain is Executive Director of Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods (CAN), a non-profit they founded in 2005. Heather’s own experiences with multiple types of disabilities, neurodivergence, inaccessibility, and ableism led them to become a well-known and respected advocate, speaker, educator, and activist who works to create equity, celebrate diversity, and educate about and implement accessibility. Heather is also known as a Crip Doula, a disability justice term for someone who helps disabled people navigate complex systems, builds community, and provides resources and support. More information: Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods | Chronically Queer


Laura “LT” Todd

LT lives on Lekwungen territory in Victoria, BC. Her over 20 years of lived experience in BC’s health care and social welfare systems as a person with a substance misuse disorder and concurrent mental health diagnoses have made her passionate about dismantling the stigma associated with drug use and mental illness. In 2018, when she had the opportunity to collaborate with Island Health and various Ministry representatives to develop a set of best practices for physicians treating people who use substances, she realized for the first time that her years of personal struggle could have sociopolitical value. She is currently finishing her Justice Studies degree at Royal Roads University and is proud to be one of the storytellers for the BCMHSUS Stigma Awareness and Reduction Initiative video. To see drug users and those with mental illness finally getting the support services they desperately need, to reduce the stigma associated with drug use, and to advocate for the human rights of drug users is her heart-mission.


Nicolas Crier

The name “Nicolas” is Greek. It means “victory of the people”. Crier is English. A “crier” is the person who makes official announcements in a court of law. At Megaphone, Nicolas is truly a champion of the People, thus his title was recently changed to “Storytelling & Community Networking Liaison” and this is work begins with knowing people, knowing their stories, and knowing which story fits where and why it should be told by the person living it. ” For myself,” says Nicolas, a shy Cree from a typical indigenous adoptee story back in Calgary, Alberta, “the stories we share with others, in particular organizations with little to no experience addressing complex issues like stigma or discrimination, are a way to respond to very deeply ingrained attitudes of people who we can tell know it’s not right to judge, but who also may never get the chance to sit down in a safe space to hear a first-hand account of the traumatizing and unfair life circumstances, which often are the root cause of drug-seeking behaviour. More information: Speaker’s Bureau


Scott Neufeld

Scott Neufeld is a Lecturer in Community Psychology at Brock University and a PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University. His dissertation research is a qualitative, community-engaged and critical exploration of how people who use drugs and the problem of “stigma” are represented in anti-stigma campaigns across Canada. You can find a brief summary of some findings from this project along with recommendations for anti-stigma practitioners here: http://bit.ly/FIRST-antistigma. He’s also very proud of the collaborative efforts he helped facilitate that led to the co-authorship of the Research 101: A Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside”.



TJ Felix

TJ is a Secwepemc First Nation artist, musician, activist, and uninvited guest on the unceded lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. Their lived experiences with homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and recovery have taught them the importance of community based outreach, culturally sensitive resources, and peer support. TJ is a graduate of the Indigenous Land Stewardship certificate program at Native Education College, where they were encouraged to learn about their traditional laws, ceremonies, medicines, and language (Secwepemcstin). TJ hopes to incorporate these teachings into his approach to community education. As an urban Indigenous settler, they are dedicated to fostering good relations and learning from the local community. More information: Pivot Legal Society


Kathryn Proudfoot

Kathryn Proudfoot is the Director of Patient Experience and Community Engagement at BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services. She is a healthcare leader with a passion for driving system transformation, developing teams and engaging stakeholders. She has worked in healthcare across the continuum of care and has a longstanding interest in improving access to quality care for underserved and marginalized populations. Kathryn holds a Master of Science in Community Health and Epidemiology and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Science. More information: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services | [email protected]


Victoria Maxwell

Victoria Maxwell is a Lived Experience Strategic Advisor and leader of the Stigma Awareness and Reduction Initiative at BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services. She has been a mental health keynote speaker for over twenty years, is a peer researcher for CREST.BD an international bipolar research team and performs her one woman shows about her experience with mental illness. She is a self-proclaimed Wellness Warrior and Bipolar Princess. More information:  BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services | [email protected] and www.victoriamaxwell.com


Katie Mai

Katie Mai is the Leader of Patient Experience and Community Engagement at BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services. She is a project manager and engagement leader that is committed to improving health equity for a more just and accessible world. Katie is passionate about transforming the way health care is designed and delivered for people experiencing social and economic marginalization in BC and beyond, and is committed to collaboration with the people we serve at all levels of health care. More information:  BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services | [email protected]


Patience Magagula

Patience Magagula is the current Executive Director and Co-founder of ACPNet BC, which started in November 2009. She has actively worked with refugees and immigrants from South of the Sahara, where has successfully accepted, inspired, and involved, the racialized persons from Africa. She is a voice for the voiceless as she pursues their cause. As an advocate, her sense of social justice with a knowledge of the sub-Saharan African women’s social terrain is combined with a sense of compassion and ambition that stimulates others to carry on the development work with her. Patience is a known health educator who have given series of health promotion talks on socio-structural challenges that act as barriers to ACB communities. She has numerous lived experiences with stigma and discrimination from living positively with HIV. She says, “the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS cannot deter me but push me on to go into my community to find marginalized women in hiding so that disparities they face are reduced”.


Jean Nsengiyumva

Jean is one of the founding members of Afro-Canadian Positive Network of BC. He came to Canada in 2009. He has served as the Assistant Executive Director since 2014 and doubles as the Community Mobilizer. He volunteered as the Awareness Coordinator from 2010 -2014. He wrote and directed poems about HIV and stigma. Jean sits on the steering Committee of CHABAC (The Canadian HIV/AIDS Black, African and Caribbean Network) as he represents the CHABAC hub in the Pacific region.  Jean dreams of social equality and a stigma-free community.


The Sunroom

Throughout the event we had a breakout room, The Sunroom, where attendees were be able to step away from the conversation and spend some time speaking with one of two people who agreed to provide support during the event: Candice in the morning, or Anita in the afternoon.. We realize that talking about stigma is not easy and people may need a break.


Candice Norris

Candice Norris is Cree/Dene from the North-West Territories/Alberta regions. She is a community support, cultural worker, and researcher in the Indigenous community in the DTES of Vancouver. She utilizes the “Two-eyed Seeing” approach to research and introduces Indigenous culture by teaching of the drum as well as sharing meaningful songs during cultural activities and ceremonies. Candice has been a peer research associate with the City of Vancouver, the Pacific AIDS Network, and the Indigenous Wellness Research Group out of SFU. Candice also leads and facilitates drumming and sharing circles within her community, and provides others with teachings, songs, and medicines for comfort and connection. She has more than 20 years of lived experience of poverty, addiction, HIV, homelessness, and mental health issues. Candice provided drumming and support in the Sunroom. 


Anita David (see full bio above)

Anita is a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Wellness Facilitator.

Anita moderated The Fireside Chat morning session and provided support in the Sunroom in the afternoon. 



Lunch time cooking class with Katsistohkwí:io Jacco

Katsistohkwí:io Jacco offered a short cooking workshop during the lunch break and will be teaching us how to make our own pesto! Katsistohkwí:io is the Research Trainee for the Making it Work Study at PAN, and is also an MA student at UVic. She is a Kanien’kehá:ka woman from the territory of Kahnawà:ke, QC and grew up cooking alongside her mother and sister. Katsistohkwí:io’s studies are all about the importance of the revitalization of Indigenous Traditional Food Systems on Turtle Island. She is an Indigenous food activist and is passionate about plant-based cooking and eating. Katsistohkwí:io began teaching cooking classes via zoom in January 2021 as a way to stay connected to her friends, family, community and to help guide her fellow community members toward incorporating healthier and natural foods into their lives.


Let us know what you think!

Leading up to, and during the event, we want to collect your experiences and ideas of what works well to reduce stigma, and what priorities should be in stigma reduction!


To add your thoughts, links, or photos click the pink icon at the bottom right!


Made with Padlet

Or visit the board here as well.


Made with Padlet

Or visit the board here as well.


Thank you to our planning committee!

A big thank you to our planning committee, Darren Lauscher, Sandy Laframboise, Nicolas Crier, Hannah Sullivan Facknitz, Colt Burrows, Jane Piasecki, and Ruth J. for all your ideas and support in planning this event!

And many thanks to the Provincial Health Services Authority and REACH Nexus for their support of this event.