2021 Speakers and Artists

Elizabeth Hall lives with Depression (officially Manic Depressive / Bipolar 2), Anxiety, Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Disorder, Dysesthesia, Endometriosis and Chronic Benign Cyclical Pain Disorder (she’s convinced the doctor made that last one up just to put a name to what is happening).  Oh and if living in chronic pain and having her own mind tormenting her isn’t enough Elizabeth has a history of inflicting pain upon herself through various forms of physical self-harm.

Elizabeth uses her photography as an escape, getting lost in the creativity and the process as a way to temporarily exist outside of herself, almost as if in a meditative state. As a Martial Artist, Elizabeth also uses physical activity as a form of therapy and a tool to strengthen her own determination to overcome whatever her mind or life puts in her path. Words however, have always been the strongest weapon Elizabeth uses to deal, reveal and heal – to purge the inner demons out where they lose some of their power over her, even if only temporarily. Writing has been the main outlet for all of Elizabeth’s “bad”- the physical and mental pain, self-hate, self-destruction and utter ugh for as long as her mind has been her own worst enemy and her body a mutinous monster.  

While being a survivor of multiple abuses and traumas, Elizabeth freely admits to being her own worst abuser with her own words as her most effective weapon (#IsntItIronic) – “I fight myself every moment of every day for control between self-hate and self-love.”  

I choose to share my story and pieces of myself through my writing, to let others in the dark hearing only I CAN’T, know that they are not alone – that I CAN is possible in the quest to not just survive but to thrive.”

William MacPherson’s experience working in a community began with his affiliation with hip hop company King of the Dot Entertainment. The skills he acquired there, he now applies to his work as a mental health community activist and harm-reduction peer-support worker on Salt Spring Island. In his spare time he enjoys volunteering, practicing and teaching biohacking techniques, such as subjecting the body to extremes of heat and cold, fasting, and breathing exercises (Wim Hof and Butyeko). 

Alison Belbin, a mother of three children, had been married for 16 years when her marriage ended in what appeared to be one catastrophic blow. In the years following the separation she has begun the unraveling of the 16 years of beliefs, patterns and traumatic events that lead to her starting from scratch at age 41. 

Alison is a writer who candidly shares her experience with alcoholism, trauma bonding, and finding grace in the darkest corners. 

Trevor Botkin: Raised from an early age in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, Trevor grew up in a close, loving home. His mother shifted between stay-at-home mom and an accountant, his father held a career with the RCMP. While life at home was loving, life beyond offered many challenges. As early as he can remember, Trevor struggled with an overwhelming sense of not belonging, feelings of inadequacy and that he didn’t matter to the world around him. These feelings were validated, even compounded by the way he was received by his peers, some teachers and even the shadow his father cast with his exceptional presence in the community. With these deep-rooted feelings and insecurities in tow, Trevor pursued a career in the construction industry. His story includes losing his hero, his father, at the age of 25. A story of a boy who struggled to find himself and his unique identity in an industry that celebrates very toxic concepts of masculinity, while unknowingly self-managing concurrent mental health disorders and inevitably building an unsustainable, hollow image of himself and life to go with it.

In January 2018, Trevor finally reached out for help after 23 years of self-medicating with many forms of addiction, substance misuse, and showing up in life wearing a mask so as not to burden others with knowing the pain and sadness he had carried inside his entire life. However, not ready to truly get honest, things would continue to get much worse until he reached a crossroads on March 6 th, 2019. Should he gamble and try, commit to doing the work and truly dig into the darkness with the hopes that he might be able to live without the drugs, his medicine? Or make the ultimate decision to end the pain in a moment.

Today, Trevor continues to do the work and is the Executive Director of a unique local charity called HeroWork. His life’s purpose is to broaden his positive impact on the community. He endeavors to share his story openly, honestly and without shame to help others find their own path to unconditional self-love and forgiveness.

Kirsten Mar graduated from Camosun College with an Associate Degree in Psychology and is pursuing further education at Uvic. She intends to obtain her PhD in clinical psychology and one day work with incarcerated populations. 

Kirsten has suffered from mental illness the majority of her life, mainly with anxiety and depression. At fourteen, she developed severe chronic pain and her mental health symptoms worsened. She struggled with suicidal ideation, self-harm and started her journey of recovery after a suicide attempt.

She has found hope and strength through volunteering and supporting those in similar situations. Kirsten hopes to inspire others by sharing her story and help end the stigma that still surrounds mental illness.

Chantelle Mussell is a Canadian singer/songwriter based out of Victoria, BC, Canada. She grew up in small town Alberta in the 1990s, born into a large family of lively, talented musicians. At a very young age, she discovered the magnetic euphoria of singing, writing, and performing with her guitar. 

Mussell’s debut EP showcases haunting and dreamy blues/folk songs. Her lyrics chronicle the visceral experiences of life, love, and heartbreak with words that resonate with your deepest, darkest secrets and desires. Chantelle is a clever songwriter with the smooth, silky voice of a gritty little angel that is sure to rattle your bones. Chantelle has opened for Canadian label artists Aaron Pritchett and The Washboard Union. She has been a strong presence for many years in the Victoria music scene, fronting the band Mussell and the Flex.

Sarah Jim is an emerging artist of mixed ancestry, and is a proud member of the W̱SÁNEĆ nation from the Tseycum village. She has received a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria and emulates her love of the territory and native plant knowledge through her artwork. Environmental restoration work has been her main source of inspiration since 2018 when she started working in SṈIDȻEȽ; the first W̱SÁNEĆ village site. Working on the land has resulted in deep insights of how language, culture, traditional knowledge, and art are all intimately connected to the natural realm. Learning about the direct connection between culture and place has helped empower Sarah as a W̱SÁNEĆ woman and a Coast Salish artist. Creating place-based artwork of her homelands and waters allows her to educate others about the importance of native plant food systems and coastal medicines in relation to the ecosystem and W̱SÁNEĆ culture.