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Thu, Jun 22



CBRCanada Webinar: Moving the Dial On: Peer Support Work and “Escaping the Maze”

Join CBRCanada in this e-learning event in the "Moving The Dial" series highlighting community-based research making positive social change. This workshop will share the findings and demands from the SPW project, and support participants in having strategic conversations about how workers with lived

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CBRCanada Webinar: Moving the Dial On: Peer Support Work and “Escaping the Maze”
CBRCanada Webinar: Moving the Dial On: Peer Support Work and “Escaping the Maze”

Time & Location

Jun 22, 2023, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EDT


About the Event

Community-Based Research Canada presents “Moving the Dial”: our 2023 E-Learning series. This series will highlight action-oriented community-based research that is ‘moving the dial’ on today’s pressing societal challenges. An important hallmark of community-based research, taking an action-orientated and impactful approach, means research partnerships mobilizing knowledge and mobilizing communities towards positive societal change. The research projects highlighted within this series demonstrate impact of community-based research. We will hear about research partnerships that facilitated actions improving societal conditions, including changes in policies, systems, organizations, and communities where everyone is supported and belongs.


SPW is a community-guided participatory action research project that studies how so-called “low barrier” social service agencies treat workers with lived/living expertise — also known as “peers.” In 2021 and 2022, we interviewed 35 peers and 16 supervisors from the Greater Toronto Area and discovered that most agencies misunderstand peer work. Although many organizations say they value lived/living experience, they build mazes and set traps for peers, forcing them to follow policies and practices that undermine their unique knowledge and skills. Peers are subject to discrimination, neglect and double standards that block them from making positive change at their organizations and in their lives. These forms of oppression emerge from and reinforce white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism, cisheteropatriarchy and ableism.

Based on our findings, SPW recommends that, in addition to providing peers with a living wage and more control over their working conditions, organizations must shift workplace cultures that currently enable and often encourage direct discrimination against Black and Indigenous peer workers, narrow and inappropriate standards of “professionalism,” and criminalizing and classist ideas about drug use. This workshop will share the findings and demands from the SPW project, and support participants in having strategic conversations about how workers with lived/living expertise can be better supported to do their transformative and necessary work.

Live Discussion

Following the presentation, CBRCanada will facilitate a live discussion to explore implications for practice. Breakout groups will be facilitated by webinar presenters. The event will conclude with a large group report-back dialogue. The live discussion will not be recorded. CBRCanada will share a summary of key discussion themes following the event.


griffin epstein (they/them) is a Mad/psychiatrized white settler/occupier working as an educator and community-engaged researcher. They teach future social service workers about radical mental health and harm reduction at George Brown College and aspire to be in solidarity with movements for disability justice.

Lindsay Jennings (she/her) is a person who survived the correctional system. She is the current Co-Chair of the Transition from Custody Network, led by SOLGEN and CAMH, working to address gaps in discharge planning and to increase continuity of care for people moving in and out of the correctional system. Lindsay also Chairs' the Expert Advisory Committee for the Fresh Start Coalition, which is advocating for an automatic record suspension regime. Lindsay is a passionate and professional advocate for the Human and Health Care Rights of currently incarcerated individuals, and over the past years has been dedicated to addressing the preventable deaths in custody, and more ethical and supportive processes for the families of the loved ones who have died.

Madelyn Gold (She/Her) is a Lived Experience Advisor and Member Researcher with over seven years experience  working in community support agencies. She works as an advisor and researcher on numerous projects and advisory panels focusing on peer support, homelessness, harm reduction and Canadian healthcare. Madelyn is proudly part of the BIPOC and LGBTQ community.

Marc-Andre Hermanstyne (he/him) has been working in the social work field for over a decade, starting out with the Black Coalition for AIDS where he learned about the importance of being an ally to vulnerable communities. Over his career he has worked for a number of diverse communities, including Ve'ahavta Jewish Response to Homelessness and South Riverdale, where he created an outreach strategy running along the Danforth into the neighbourhoods of Taylor Massey and Oakridge. Marc-Andre is a staunch advocate for the rights and freedoms of youth, and people who use drugs and/or struggle with mental health concerns.

Maria Scotton (they/them or she/her) is a Harm Reduction Specialist with Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Centre (CONC) with 10 years of experience in social services. They advocate for peers in the social service sector and have developed and delivered Peer trainings for various organizations in Toronto.

Suwaida Farah (she/her)

This event will take place in Zoom meeting format. A zoom link* will be sent out by email prior to the event via eventbrite. If you do not receive the link, access will also be available on the eventbrite platform. Use the email you registered with to login. For questions, please email  in advance of the event.

*This event is intended for CBRCanada members only. If you are employed, studying, or affiliated with any CBRCanada member institution/organization, you are already considered a member. If you are unsure if your institution is covered, learn more here. Individuals whose institution is not on this list are welcome to register as an an individual member. We value community participation and have a free membership option for registered community mobilizers.

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