PhiLab Western Hub Regional Conference

Events, Western Hub

The Place of Philanthropy in Community Mental Health

June 10th and 11th

Check out the recordings from the Western Hub’s Regional Conference below:


The tragic suicide of a university student, Samwel Uko, after having sought out help for his mental health at the Regina General Hospital emergency ward last spring, is only a glimpse into a myriad of mental health concerns that have surfaced with the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of Canada. A record of over-dose deaths from opioids, especially in Western Canada, has made health officials deem it a crisis. The heightened disparities in access to mental health supports make the situation we find ourselves in seem dire. With the entire country’s energy directed at fighting the pandemic, government finances and staff may be currently stretched too thin to be able to properly address these pressing issues. What then is the place of philanthropy in filling the gaps and supporting our mental wellbeing?


The Western Hub is seeking answers to this question by facilitating a discussion on the philanthropic action around mental health with researchers, foundations, philanthropic organizations and practitioners in Western Canada during a 2-day virtual conference to be held on June 10 and 11, 2021. Our two key objectives are:

1) Understand the current state of philanthropy with respect to community mental health (including access to mental health supports) in each of the four western provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. This is to be achieved by partnering with practitioners to identify challenges in this subsector of public health, and

2) Establish a collaborative philanthropic research agenda for the Western Canada region, which includes the different actors involved.

Conference organizers: Dr. Iryna Khovrenkov and Dr. Lynn Gidluck, of the University of Regina.

For more information, contact: Clarine Mukendi,



Conference Agenda

All times are in CST

June 10

10:00-11:30 Opening and Keynotes

Margaret Eaton, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association

Dr. Lindsey Richardson, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia and Research Scientist, British Columbia Centre on Substance Use

11:30-1:00 Break

1:00-2:30 The changing landscape of mental health access in Western Canada

Jaime Mantesso, Faculty of Nursing Instructor, University of Regina, Jaime’s teaching and research focuses on mental health and community nursing. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for Schizophrenia Saskatchewan.

Jacqueline Neligan, Executive Director, Ladysmith Family and Friends, Vancouver Island Jacqueline will speak about the efforts her organization has been undertaking to provide online or in-person support regarding clothing, food and mental and physical health for vulnerable families with children age 0-6 on Vancouver Island.

2:30-3:00 Break

3:00-4:30 The role of philanthropy in filling governmental gaps in mental health

Moderator – Dara Parker, Vice President, Grants and Community Initiatives, Vancouver Foundation

Katrina Verschoor and Kim Rakins, Faculty at Selkirk College, and Sandi McCreight, Founder of Increasing Recreation Involving Seniors.

Katrina, Kim and Sandi will speak about the Increasing Recreation Involving Seniors project that they initiated in the Fall of 2020 with the Castlegar Community Response Network.

Mona Cooley, Founder and CEO, Cool Family Solutions

When Mona Cooley was looking for help for her family when they learned that their daughter had bipolar disorder. Her daughter was getting the medical help she needed, however there were no programs available for the family. As a family, they were left to fend for themselves. She founded Cool Family Services to fill this gap in services and help families learn to engage in healthy, honest conversations about difficult situations.

Jason Mercredi, Executive Director, Prairie Harm Reduction

PHR is a clean place for people to safely consume drugs under the supervision of staff who can offer social supports. Rising mental health issues have contributed to a record of over-dose deaths in SK, prompting health officials deem it a crisis. With no new provincial funding, PHR is relying on small businesses and public fundraising to keep its doors open.

Alexa Potashnik, Founder of Black Space Winnipeg

Alexa will talk about their community support program – Project Heal, a community group support program. Facilitated by Black healthcare professionals, social workers and counsellors Project Heal is for Black people in Winnipeg who are experiencing mental health concerns from the effects of systemic racism, violence and dealing with trauma from anti-Black discrimination.

June 11

9:00-10:30 BIPOC and mental health

Dr. Rod McCormick, Professor, Thompson Rivers University

Dr. McCormick’s area of specialization is Indigenous mental health and the development of culturally appropriate healing approaches for Indigenous people.

Emily Winters, PhD Student, Psychology, University of Regina

Emily (Inuk-Settler), will share highlights from an initiative led by the University of Regina’s Psychology Graduate Students’ Association aimed at countering oppressive practices in mental health services. Latoya Reid, MSW, BSW, RSW Latoya is a Clinical therapist/Psychotherapist.

Amal Abdullahi will share insights about the mental health needs of people from the Muslim community, including refugees and recent immigrants

10:30-10:45 Closing Remarks

This article is part of the special edition of December 2021 : Philanthropy & Mental Health. You can find more information here

philanthropy & mental health