Andrea Paquette

Society Executive Director, Spokesperson and Classroom & Community Presenter

Andrea Paquette, Executive Director is a passionate Presenter for the Stigma-Free Zone Classroom and Community presentations program. Andrea is an experienced Speaker/Presenter/Facilitator who lives well with bipolar disorder having been diagnosed for over 14 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 named 2015 Courage To Come Back recipient in mental health from Coast Mental Health, and a winner at the Vancouver Island Business and Community Awards – Top 20 Under 40. In 2013, Andrea received a prestigious Reintegration Award for Mentorship from the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare in their Awards of Excellence, as well as the CFAX Mel Cooper Citizen of the Year Award in Victoria. She is a published author and a well-known blogger for Bipolar Magazine and the Stigma-Free Zone Blog, both internationally and highly acclaimed recognized websites.

Robyn Thomas

Classroom & Community Presenter – Vancouver Island & Teens2Twenties Support Group Lead-Facilitator

Robyn Thomas is passionate about working with the Stigma Free Society, Formerly the Bipolar Disorder Society of British Columbia, as a classroom and community presenter. Robyn is a true Stigma-Free Zone Superhero and she 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.

Cam Webster

Teens2Twenties Support Group Co-Facilitator

Cameron Webster is the Co-Facilitator of the Teens2Twenties support group. He is also a public speaker for B.C.S.S. (British Columbia Schizophrenia Society) in Victoria. Cam has suffered from psychosis in the past and he is diagnosed with Schizophrenia. His experience with mental illness has been life changing. It has helped him realize that he has a passion for psychology and wants to help others, who like himself, have struggled with mental illness. Through attending many C.B.T. (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) groups, he often facilitated conversations and assisted with the groups. Cam has become informed and knowledgeable. He has completed W.R.A.P (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) training and he is currently working part-time in addition to attending College studying psychology.

Janet Bisset

Program Coordinator & Executive Assistant

Janet Bisset is currently the Program Coordinator for the Stigma-Free Society, Formerly the Bipolar Disorder Society of BC, and Executive Assistant to Andrea Paquette, Executive Director, SFS. Ms. Bisset started travelling at a young age, lived and raised a family in Portugal, Eastern USA, Macau, South China, and returned to Vancouver in 1986.  At that time, she studied part-time attending Langara College where she completed Psychology years 3 and 4 (with honours) to attain her Liberal Arts degree. Over the years, Janet balanced her career between private enterprise and public health care in the area of Administration. Her skills in communications, organization, planning and foresight have been highly regarded over the years. Janet is passionate about working with the Stigma-Free Society for she feels they do amazing work. She is helping to ‘stomp-out stigma’ with a unique understanding and tolerance of various cultures. Janet is particularly excited to be working and supporting Andrea Paquette in the Stigma-Free Zone initiative.

Kyle Horvath

Youth Mental Health Program Developer & Presenter, Children’s Classroom Pilot

Kyle Horvath is the co-developer and presenter for the Society’s Children’s Classroom Presentations Pilot and he is an avid outdoor adventurer and youth worker specializing in mental health. Originally from Welland, Ontario, Kyle moved out to Victoria in 2012 after receiving a BA in Psychology (Honours) from Brock University. Over the past several years Kyle has mentored and inspired over one-hundred youth between the ages of 12-18 from across Vancouver Island with the several organizations including the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Boys and Girls Club Services of Greater Victoria, and Community Living Victoria. As a facilitator, Kyle focuses on engaging each youth in the process of their own self-discovery by developing meaningful connections with each participant. Currently, Kyle continues to develop dynamic and engaging programs that aim to inspire youth through curiosity, playfulness, and self-empowerment.

Norma Bailey

Norma Bailey

Co-facilitator, Westshore Support Group

Norma has been attending the West Shore Mental Health Support Group for over a year now. Norma is the middle child of three siblings and was born in Prince George, British Columbia. During their adolescent years, her mother struggled with mental health issues and was eventually hospitalized. Norma has experience with having mental illness in the family, but she has always persevered. While living in Victoria with her father, Norma mothered a son in her late teens, who was put up for adoption due to personal circumstances.  As a young adult, Norma moved to Ontario where she worked as a life skills coach. She had another son.  Norma moved to the Yukon where she won an award volunteering as a Lay Minister in the dementia unit of a continuing care facility. She has since been reunited with her first born son, in fact they are neighbors now in a rural First Nation Community where Norma assists community members run errands or any task that needs her assistance. She has previously volunteered at the West Shore Food Bank. Norma focuses on encouraging and promoting self-care and bringing out the best in people and she is very excited to be the new Bipolar Babe co-facilitator for the West Shore Support Group.  ​

Andrea Bennington

Lead- Facilitator, West Shore Support Group

Andrea is a firm believer that communication, education and knowledge of available resources are crucial in allowing stigma around mental illness to be tackled and eliminated. She holds a BA in English the University of Lethbridge, 2003. She also holds a Master’s certificate in Journalism from Humber College, Toronto, ON and possesses over 15 years of lived experience with diagnosed Bipolar I disorder. She is committed to the idea that first and foremost we are all human beings and should be both treated with, and embody compassion and strength. Andrea also works as a Partnership Presenter with the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) Victoria, presenting in high school classrooms and post-secondary institutions including: the University of Victoria, Camosun College and Sprott Shaw College. She most recently completed the world renowned WRAP© Wellness Recovery Action Plan training seminar and looks forward to continuing to work in the field of Mental Health.

Jacquie Gonzales

Women’s Support Group Lead-Facilitator

Jacquie has many passions and has a varied employment and educational background. She is most proud of her past position working with persons with disabilities, and particularly, with a 19 year old young man who was just coming into care. She nurtured him and to both of their success, Jacquie brought his communications skills to a level where he was comfortable being a part of the community. This particular client called her every day with thanks for one year thereafter. Jacquie has lived experience with bipolar disorder and initially had trouble coping, but found help and support in the Bipolar Babes Women’s Support Group. She felt that the atmosphere and the participants helped her realize that it was okay to have bipolar disorder and she no longer feels stigmatized. Jacquie has completed the Suicide Education and Prevention training with the Society and is proud to be the Women’s Group Facilitator as she gets to bring hope to others and assure them that they are not alone.

Jaime Traynor

Co-Facilitator, Women’s Support Group

Jaime is a strong believer in the role between community and connection in contributing to mental wellness. She is honoured to have the opportunity to co-facilitate the Women’s Support Group, and to help create a compassionate, non-judgmental space where participants are able to share their experiences and support one another. Jaime has worked and volunteered in a variety of government and non-profit settings, both in Canada and abroad, and she is continually inspired by the resilience of the individuals and families she interacts with. Jaime is committed to working, both personally and professionally, to foster education and understanding around mental illness.