Family Peer Support Services

All our individual and family peer support workers go through extensive training in establishing personal connection through shared life experiences. Contact us today to get connected to a dedicated member of our team.

The following family peer support services are available in community. Regardless of where you live in Manitoba we can connect with you through phone or videocall.

Seeking individual support?

Family Peer Support

Support for families and those who support individuals with lived experience of mental health and wellness challenges. Talk with a trained Peer Support Worker who will connect with you over shared experiences of supporting a family member or friend with a mental health/substance use challenge.

To access peer support call 204-786-1616 and choose ext. 229, Kitana Degen, Community Coordinator.

Eight Stages of Healing

A 10-week peer led support group facilitated by a trained Peer Support Worker, for family members, friends and caregivers’ who support individuals living with mental health and wellness challenges. This support group focuses on the unique journey families, friends and caregivers walk, based on Julie Tallard Johnson’s book, “Hidden Victim, Hidden Healers”.
Groups are run when filled.
Contact Kitana at 204-786-1616 ext. 229 for more information or to register or click here.

Family Support in Partnership with Robyn Priest Live Your Truth

We are grateful to connect with Robyn Priest Live Your Truth (RPLYT) to deliver quality family peer support services through the All In Peer Support division of their company. The following support groups are available at no cost through RPLYT.
Book your space directly through the RPLYT website by clicking the available links.
For further information on specific support groups, please contact RPLYT at https://www.robynpriest.com/contact or connect with Community Coordinator, Kitana, at 204-786-1616 or k.degen@peerconnectionsmb.ca to discuss what type of support you are looking for.

Online All in Family Peer Support Group

A 10-week peer led support group facilitated by a trained Peer Support Worker, for family members, friends and caregivers’ who support individuals living with mental health and wellness challenges. This support group focuses on the unique journey families, friends and caregivers walk, based on Julie Tallard Johnson’s book, “Hidden Victim, Hidden Healers”.
Groups are run when filled.
Contact Kitana at 204-786-1616 ext. 229 for more information or to register or click here.

Getting Rid of  the "Shoulds"

Do you “SHOULD” on yourself? Do you find others “SHOULD” on you? Do you “SHOULD” on other people? Let’s get rid of the “SHOULDS” and learn to take better care of ourselves. This 2 hour workshop is changing lives. It delves deep into how we view what is expected of ourselves and others. Learn how to reframe this mindset and shove the shoulds out of your vocabulary.

Facilitated by Robyn Priest.

For a list of upcoming dates or to register, click HERE.

Letting Go of the Shame and Embracing the Future/gifts

In this 2 hour workshop you will learn to let go of the guilt and shame associated with mental health issues, readjust the dreams you have for your family and start to recognize the gifts that come out of your journey.
Facilitated by Kirsten Drybrough.
For a list of upcoming dates or to register, click HERE.

The Advocacy Role of a Family Member

Taking a Deep Dive into what your role is. This 2 hour workshop offers you tools to advocate with in the health care systems, and with friends and family.
Facilitated by Kirsten Drybrough.
For a list of upcoming dates or to register, click HERE.
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Gillian Nattress
Vice President Peer Connections Manitoba
Gillian is the Vice President of the Board of Peer Connections Manitoba, who joined the board in March of 2020. Gillian is a Registered Nurse who is part of the management team with Shared Health. She manages the Support Staff and Nurses of the Float Pools at Health Sciences Centre. She has been a nurse for over 20 years and first became involved with the former Manitoba Schizophrenia Society when she worked for the University of Manitoba and brought nursing students to many of MSS educational programs. Gillian has family members living with mental illness and feel passionately about being a part of a culture that normalizes taking care of mental health.
Alex Sawatsky
President
Alex Sawatsky is the Director as well as an Associate Professor with the Faculty of Social Work at Booth University College where he has been teaching for the last 15 years.
His previous career was in mental health services in the U.S.  He was a member of the board of directors for 6 years with the Manitoba Institute of Registered Social Workers (MIRSW; 2007-2013) and presently a member of the board of directors of the Manitoba College of Social Workers (MCSW).
As of January 2017, he is newly elected as a member of the board of directors at the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society (MSS) and the acting president of the board of directors for Peer Connections Manitoba at this time.
In his spare time, he tries to run all the time and on trails as much as possible.  He still thinks it’s a hobby and not an obsession.

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Florence Keeper
My name is Florence Keeper, I am from Nelson House, known as Nischawasik Cree Nation. Grew up and attended school there, attended high school in Thompson. Later attended Brandon university. I am a mother of six, 5 sons, one daughter, a grandmother of two wonderful boys and a granddaughter. So, I’ve been busy! We’ve lived in Winnipeg now for 20 years.

My work experience has always been health delivery. Medical Transportation and Referral Services. WRHA with the Aboriginal Health Service as Discharge Planning Coordinator. I have been involved with Boards as a member in CMHA, Mental Health Community Service, Women’s Crisis Centre in Thompson. I retired in 2014, not my wish but due to health issues. In 2002, a loved one became ill with a mental illness. I found ourselves, meaning the whole family in distress. Not understanding the illness and our new journey began. With supports, resources various hospitals and community programs, we would have not survived. Today, we are in better situation but continue to live with it. When I asked to be member of the MMS board, I was eager as I feel I better understanding and can contribute to support the issue for others. I am proud to say we have provided support to other parents here and in the northern area as we know many people from there. I enjoy talking to people, reading, bead w travelling, explore new things when I can.

Felica Owadara
Hi everyone, my name is Felicia Owadara, but my family mostly calls me Felicity, and I am from Nigeria. I like going for a walk, and part of my daily routine is reading a book daily. I love to engage in meaningful conversation to enrich my knowledge.
Professionally, I worked for a couple of years as a health social worker in the Psychiatric Unit at the Teaching Hospital Ibadan, where I develop an interest in the social integration of mental health service users. I later travelled to the United Kingdom for a master’s degree in social policy and social work research. While I was in the UK, I joined the Kyra women project, an organization that focuses on women’s wellbeing, until I returned to my country.

I am currently undergoing a doctoral degree program at the Faculty of Social work, University of Manitoba; I am a member of the board of director for the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society agency, now referred to as Peer Connection. Joining the organization is relatively novel to me and shaping my experience and knowledge; I am happy to be here and help in a way that I could.

Stephanie Loewen
Secretary to the Board of Directors

Stephanie is the Executive Director of Policy, Programs and Learning for the Manitoba Civil Service Commission. She has been with the Manitoba Government for 12 years, with 10 years spent in mental health, suicide prevention, and addictions policy and oversight. Before government, Stephanie worked as the outreach manager for the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society for six years in both the south and northeastern regions of Manitoba. Since her teenage years, she has had a keen interest in mental health and well-being, playing “therapist” to her friends. Having experienced episodes of debilitating depression and anxiety in her early adulthood, she became well-aware of the inadequacies, gaps and barriers in the healthcare system, as well as in mental health services. Stephanie is a passionate advocate for mental health promotion, destigmatizing mental health and mental illness, and sharing our common and diverse human experiences with compassion, self-love, grace, and humour (wherever possible!) When not working, she loves beating her family in ping pong, tasting and rating Manitoba’s amazing craft beer selections, and listening to podcasts about leadership, self-compassion and bravery.

Gillian Nattress
Vice President Peer Connections Manitoba
Gillian is the Vice President of the Board of Peer Connections Manitoba, who joined the board in March of 2020. Gillian is a Registered Nurse who is part of the management team with Shared Health. She manages the Support Staff and Nurses of the Float Pools at Health Sciences Centre. She has been a nurse for over 20 years and first became involved with the former Manitoba Schizophrenia Society when she worked for the University of Manitoba and brought nursing students to many of MSS educational programs. Gillian has family members living with mental illness and feel passionately about being a part of a culture that normalizes taking care of mental health.
Best part of my workday; Recruiting future nurses and encouraging the development of best practice standards.
I love to decorate, cook, and bake, and am very social. I am looking forward to entertaining again sometime soon.

I am constantly making lists and checking off some accomplishments…makes me feel like I am getting somewhere with my daily tasks!

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