The BC Schizophrenia Society hosted its 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Education Session on Saturday, October 21st. It was a thought-provoking and inspiring event that brought together our community from across the province. 

This year’s AGM was held in a hybrid format, allowing attendees to attend in-person or virtually. The event not only shed light on the challenges and transformations in our understanding of schizophrenia but also celebrated the remarkable individuals who have made a significant impact in the field. 

A Journey Through the Past, Present, and Future of Schizophrenia 

Dr. Mahavir Agarwal, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and a Clinician-Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Toronto, delivered an enlightening presentation. His talk embarked on a historical journey through the evolving perception of schizophrenia, highlighting the changes and challenges faced over the years.

Dr. Agarwal emphasized the pharmacological aspects of the disorder and how future research can profoundly impact the lives of those affected by schizophrenia. Indeed, in an area where knowledge is continually evolving, Dr. Agarwal’s presentation encouraged hope and the drive for a better future.  

Acknowledging the 2023-2024 BCSS and BCSS Foundation Board of Directors  

During the AGM, the BC Schizophrenia Society introduced the dedicated individuals who will serve on our boards for the upcoming year.  

The 2023-2024 BC Schizophrenia Society Board of Directors: 

· David Halikowski 
· Dr. John Gray 
· Joanne Leung 
· Donna Motzer 
· Don Monsour 
· Lena Bortnick 
· Susan Inman 
· Jack Middleton 
· Dr. Fidel Vila-Rodriguez 
· Paul Bhushan 
· Colleen Crossley 
· Brenda Sawatzky-Girling 
· Alexander Hanton Wright 

The 2023-2024 BC Schizophrenia Society Foundation Board of Directors:  

· Renato Zane 
· Guelda Redman 
· Joanne Leung 
· Sylvia LeRoy 
· Margareta Dovgal

BCSS Champion Award: Honoring Gerrit van der Leer 

One of the highlights of the event was the presentation of the BCSS Champion Award to Gerrit van der Leer. Gerrit has been an integral part of BCSS for over thirty years, contributing to numerous initiatives, including the development of the Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI) program, Assertive Community Treatment Teams (ACT), and the Cognitive Rehabilitation initiative. His unwavering dedication to improving the lives of those affected by severe mental illness is reflected in his professionalism, commitment, and advocacy. 

Gerrit’s impressive career includes serving as the Executive Director of the Mental Health and Substance Use Division in the Ministry of Health. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Gerrit for his continued willingness to go ‘above and beyond’ to assist BC’s most vulnerable. 

Keynote Speaker and Special Guest

The success of the AGM would not have been possible without our esteemed speaker, Dr. Mahavir Agarwal, who shared his valuable insights with us. We also want to extend our appreciation to the BC Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Jennifer Whiteside, for attending this year’s AGM. BCSS is grateful for Minister Whiteside’s continued support and dedication to improving mental health services in British Columbia. 

BCSS Annual Report 2022-2023 

As we look forward to the year ahead, we encourage everyone to take an active interest in the work of the BC Schizophrenia Society. We’ve published our Annual Report for 2022-2023, which outlines the organization’s achievements and goals for the coming year. 

A highlight of the 2022-23 year was the $5 million in funding announced by the BC government in May 2022. This announcement was significant not only because of the important support it provides families across BC but also because it demonstrates the strength of our partnerships and the important work being done to raise awareness of the needs of families living with schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses. 


L-R: Faydra Aldridge (BCSS CEO), Jack Middleton (BCSS Board of Directors – President), Dr. Mahavir Agarwal, Gerrit van der Leer

The BCSS AGM is a testament to the dedication, commitment, and resilience of those who work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of individuals affected by schizophrenia. 

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who supported this event. Special thanks go to Dr. Agarwal and Minister Whiteside for their invaluable participation. We also express our appreciation to Abbvie for their contribution that helped make this event possible. 

Of course, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without the efforts of the entire BCSS community, including our board of directors, provincial office staff, regional managers, educators, members, volunteers, and supporters. Together, let’s continue to drive change and create a better future for all affected by schizophrenia and severe and persistent mental illness. 

To become a BCSS member, visit: www.bcss.org/membership. Please note, the membership program runs from January-December. This December, stay tuned for reminders to renew your membership for the next calendar year.  


Watch the full recording here:

BCSS Annual General Meeting 2023

BCSS Annual General Meeting Education Session 2023


Question: Is Metformin still effective for weight loss if it is initiated after an individual has already gained weight from taking an antipsychotic, rather than starting it at the same time as the antipsychotic to prevent weight gain as a side effect?

Answer: Yes, metformin is effective even if started after the individual has already gained weight. Generally, earlier is better but better now than never.