Thursday, September 28, 2023
September 28, 2023

Mental Wellness Initiative folks talk about being involved


This is the second in a series of stories from Salt Spring Health Advancement Network’s Mental Wellness Initiative (MWI/Initiative), whose mission is “co-creating a community of caring and belonging.”

Bringing diverse voices together is one of the goals of MWI whose mission is to co-create a community of caring and belonging. Our first story from William McPherson highlighted Willie’s own journey and the impact that being involved in the Initiative has had on him personally. This time, we asked people involved in the Mental Wellness Initiative some questions; what follows are responses from individuals active in different aspects of the Initiative’s work in our community.

Why is working with the Mental Wellness Initiative important to you?

• The groups in the MWI that I have participated in have been exceptional experiences! I’m always pleasantly surprised when my name comes up because someone values my contribution and mentions me attached to some great idea! The check-ins we share have value and hold an important space for me to share and in turn listen. I feel relief and pleasure knowing that I am speaking with people who hold me in high regard. (Longtime traveller who settled on Salt Spring to find their place in the community. Discovered a passion for producing and broadcasting through Salt Spring radio CFSI and now CHIR. Has joined the Coalition and Communication groups since 2021. New mom and multifaceted job-holder.)

• When my daughter was homeless, I realized that it wasn’t up to me to keep her safe, nor could I. So, I prayed for her to be in the company of caring and kind people and now I strive to be that to others. I’m a Jesus follower and my life goal is to live as close to his example as I am able, which includes loving my neighbour, feeding the hungry, etc. (Ambassador, Peer Support Working Group member since 2022, healthcare background as nurse and director of long-term care. Lived experience supporting daughter who is now housed and not using and well.)

• My professional and personal experience with systems that support mental health influenced my desire to contribute. I believe that the health of any group, school or community can be gauged by how their most vulnerable are treated. Genuine compassion supports the health of everyone and I see this approach in the work of Mental Wellness Initiative where a culture of care drives the agenda, physically and metaphorically. The work of the MWI serves to connect our community. It’s a bridge to and for agencies and individuals supporting mental health efforts. (Member of the MWI Coalition and Communications Group since 2022 Island resident for 40 years. Member of several community non-profit boards, including Gulf Islands Families Together Society.)

What do you think the MWI makes possible that wouldn’t otherwise be so?

• There is still a touch of inclusionary diversity left here, which, when we encourage each other to work together for all . . . all can still come back from where we are currently heading and benefit from. (Lived experience consultant in the fields of drug addiction, crime, dual-directional broken family structures and homelessness. Frequent visitor to Salt Spring for many years and permanent resident for six years. With the MWI Coalition and Communication Group since the beginning.)

• I think this work is one of many ways that will help to create a healthy community on the island of Salt Spring. I believe what we are doing will help people have a better sense that they are cared for and will help to bridge some of the divides between people groups that live here. (Member of MWI Peer Support Working Group since 2022. Board member with Salt Spring Community Alliance. Volunteer with Harvest Food Bank. Neighbourhood co-captain for Emergency Services POD Network, pastor with Canadian National Baptist Convention.)

• Given our crumbling social, environmental and economic systems, a grassroots effort like the MWI is filling increasing gaps in our community — around services like mental health support, peer support and counselling, safer drug access and response to overdoses, along with advocacy to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable in our community continue to be heard, acknowledged and responded to. (In leadership positions with several nonprofits on Salt Spring Island, and on the board of several others.) 

If we embrace the belief that the way forward is together, then is one measure of our success as a community how we take care of each other? In a future story we ask the question: What does it mean to have a healthy community?

To get involved with the Mental Wellness Initiative on Salt Spring, people can contact David Norget at or William McPherson at

There are several ways to support the initiative with a donation. Tax receipts can be issued upon request.

• Cash – contact David Norget ( or Martha Taylor (

• Cheque – payable to Salt Spring Community Health Society mailing address: 181 Booth Canal Rd., Salt Spring Island, B.C., V8K 2N2 (Please specify “SSHAN – Mental Wellness Initiative” on your cheque).

• E-transfer – (Please specify “SSHAN – Mental Wellness Initiative” in the message section of your transfer).

• Online – Search for Salt Spring Community Health Society and please specify “SSHAN – Mental Wellness Initiative” in the note section. During the month of June through CanadaHelps, every $1 donated gives the MWI the chance to win $20,000. The more that’s donated, the greater the chances of our winning (

• For any significant (>$25,000) donation of securities (publicly traded stocks and bonds), there is a possibility of avoiding paying capital gains tax by contributing to a flow-through fund through the Salt Spring Island Foundation (SSIF). Please talk to us to discuss further details. (Great thanks go to the SSIF for this option.)

We currently have two angel funders each willing to donate up to $5,000 each = $10,000 that, if matched by community donations, will equal $20,000 in donated funding!

The Mental Wellness Initiative thanks our past and present sponsors — Island Health Community Wellness, SSIF, Capital Regional District Grants-in-aid — as well as the many organizations and community members who have contributed their time to our efforts. We also thank Harlan’s Chocolates and Salt Spring Coffee for contributing chocolate and coffee to support our community appeal!


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