Mental Health Advocacy and Activism: Perspectives from Living Experience-Based Practices


From Mad in America Continuing Education

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021. 1pm Eastern, 12pm Central, 11am Mountain, 10 am Pacific

Participants will be introduced to highlights of living experience-based practices of mental health advocates/activists in Manitoba, Canada.

About this event

Co-sponsored by Mad in America Continuing Education and Brandon University

Register through Eventbrite here.

Note: You can register for free with the code “Freebie.”

All webinars are recorded and posted on the Mad in America site:

In this webinar, participants will be introduced to highlights in the commonalities and diversity of living experience-based practices of mental health advocates/activists in Manitoba, Canada based on an oral history project. Eric Fraser and Roland Vandal will discuss their own living experience-based practices including peer support work within conventional mental health systems as well as advocacy, mentoring, and support in the areas of youth and addictions outside of conventional mental health systems. The intention is to invite discussion of issues involved with living experience-based practices.


Eric Fraser has been working for Peer Connections Manitoba (Formally, the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society) as a Peer Support Worker out of Health Sciences Center, Victoria General Hospital and Selkirk Mental Health Center for over 10 years. Eric is also an author, husband, and father. Eric resides in his home city, Winnipeg, MB (Treaty 1 territory).

As a young adult Eric experienced mental health challenges while attending college. With the ongoing support of his family, friends, psychiatrist, and healthcare professionals Eric was able to gain coping skills, confidence, and independence. Eric shared his Living experience of his diagnosis of Schizophrenia through his book titled “Living With Shadows” . Eric spends most of his advocacy/activist work engaging in peer support in Manitoba and maintains that “No one is perfect however when we accept someone as they are they will improve or want to. We are to explore with them by sharing each other’s experiences”. Eric has been married for 6 years and has a young daughter who loves to keep active by swimming, playing football, and learning Tae Kwon Do and dance.

Roland Vandal has worked as a journeyman flooring installer for over 3 decades. He is a Metis man, also a published author, recovery/life coach and a provincial, national and international award winning international speaker and community leader. He is dedicated to community addiction programs and sits on the Board of Directors at the Red Road Lodge, a Recovery Homeless Mission housing up to 47 residents in Winnipeg. By sharing his Living experience with addiction and mental health through his book “Off The Ropes, My Story and award winning documentary “The Wounded Healer, The Roland Vandal Story” Roland’s website is

Roland has been a peer mentor to many folks struggling with addictions and mental illness. Roland is involved in the local boxing community and runs a wellness class that not only focuses on the skill of boxing, but also teaches youth mindfulness, meditation and sport visualization.

Karen Clements is a registered psychiatric nurse, retired Assistant Professor of Psychiatric Nursing, and current Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Health Studies. Karen has studied, researched, and published in the area of Recovery. She is student and supporter of mental health advocacy/activism.

Moderator: Stan Rossowski is a person with lived experience of mental and emotional distress living in recovery from disorder and dysfunction who uses that experience to support others seeking recovery and a life worth living. Stan is a helper and someone who receives help, a lifelong learner as well as a teacher, an activist for social justice, a peacemaker, and a real nice guy.