Strengthening Families Together (SFT) is such an incredible course for SO many reasons. And you never know whose lives you will impact.

Twelve years ago, Catherine MacLeod was a participant in BCSS’ SFT course. She gained information and support, and loved it so much that she became a facilitator! Catherine underwent the training and then taught the course for the next ten years in Burnaby, Surrey, and Langley—helping hundreds of families better understand serious mental illness and how to navigate BC’s mental health system.

Over the last two years, Catherine transitioned her course onto Zoom and helped families in the Vancouver Region build strategies for understanding and coping with the effects of serious mental illness on family.

Catherine was a real advocate of this amazing educational course and helped more than 200 family members understand how to support their loved ones. She touched even many more lives along the way.

In July, Catherine unexpectedly passed away, and we are sad to have lost such a determined and dedicated volunteer—a person who was always willing to help families to the best of her abilities. Catherine was an advocate for families, and she will be missed deeply by all those who had the good fortune of knowing her and having received education and support from her.

However, she leaves a legacy behind with BCSS. Jennifer Kastelein, one of her students from an SFT course, was extremely interested in facilitating an SFT workshop. Jennifer reached out to Catherine to find out what more she could learn and do to help families like hers… and, as they say, the rest is history.

Catherine worked with Jennifer, coaching and training her to be a facilitation partner. Together, they lead families through the SFT course both in-person and then virtually at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Jennifer is so grateful for Catherine McLeod’s mentorship and friendship, and she hopes to live up to Catherine’s legacy in advocating for mental health and helping families as a BCSS Regional Educator.