Spring is here, BC’s vaccine roll-out is underway, and the future is looking a little brighter. In the meantime, across the province, self-advocate led groups are keeping people connected through conversations and shared activities.

A person playing guitar, a person holding a phone, and various board game pieces

Five groups have received grant funding from Community Living BC to  hire and pay self advocates to organize these virtual and non-virtual ways for people to connect during the pandemic. Self-advocates have stepped up to share their talents, offer mental health support, and enjoy shared interests like games and movies with others. Get a closer look at some of their weekly social activities and upcoming special events!

TALK North West – The Advocacy League of Kindness (Kitimat/Terrace)

The Advocacy League of Kindness invites self-advocates and allies to come together on Zoom each week for their Ways to Keep Connected During COVID event.

Get in touch by emailing talknorthwest@gmail.com

Olivia Douglas Community Services (New Westminster)

Olivia Douglas Community Services was founded in August 2020. The society creates peer-to-peer self advocate led programs and opportunities for connection and support. Their plan is to host groups focused on five main topics: LGBTQ+, Sharing Resources, Mental Health Peer Support, Technology Support, and a Place for Meeting New People.

The first two to launch have been the Qnections Club and Peers Being Peers. The Qnections Club is a fun and supportive space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to listen to stories and meet people. The group meets online every Thursday at 4pm. The Peers Being Peers group offers some activities, but is mostly unstructured and full of surprises. It’s a space for folks to make friends, talk about anything, have fun, and let loose a bit. The peers group meets on Wednesdays at 4pm.

You can learn more about Olivia Douglas Community Services on their website or contact Casey.Douglas@odcommunity.ca.

Self Advocates of the Rockies (Cranbrook)

The Self Advocates of the Rockies have a wide variety of weekly activities and special events which bring people together. For those feeling “Zoomed out,” they host a weekly Group Phone Call so folks can connect at a distance offline. For the Tolkien nerds out there, Freaky Geeky Presents Middle Earth March is a month-long exploration of the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Here are a few more upcoming special events:

Contact cranbrooksaor@gmail.com for more info about ongoing and upcoming events.

Speaking Up for Self Advocacy Awareness (Kamloops)

The Kamloops Self Advocate Group is a group of people with developmental disabilities who meet once a month to discuss issues that are important to them, meet new people and plan events. Each week, they host virtual events like Music Trivia and Games Chat. The group is also working on ways for people to connect offline, like their pen pal and phone pal programs. Between now and the end of August, they have plans to connect with people through Zoom, phone, and letters.

Contact speakupkamloops@gmail.com to learn more.

BC Self Advocate Leadership Network (Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island)

SALN is a Network made of Self-Advocates from leading organizations in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. The SALN website is a great source for easy-to-understand resources about COVID-19. The group also hosts special events, like their upcoming History of self advocacy. On Monday, March 29, a panel of self-advocates will be discussing the history of the self-advocacy movement and answering questions from participants.

Contact info@salnbc.com to learn more.