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Sharing our 2023 Leadership Gathering Report

Our Leadership Gathering brings together invited representatives to engage in critical discussions about key policy issues.

On October 16-17, Connective hosted the second annual Leadership Gathering.



At this two-day dialogue, invited representatives from across the justice, health, and social sectors came together to focus on improving the delivery of services to individuals facing complex barriers.



Read our Leadership Gathering Report



Connective’s Leadership Gathering offers a unique opportunity for decision-makers, subject-matter experts, front-line service providers, and people with lived experience to embrace vulnerability and share openly; to transcend service silos, and reach across organizational, ministerial, and sectoral lines; to challenge one another, to let go of old ideas or roadblocks, and to find new ways of working together.


This year’s theme, Supported and Effective Transitions, focused on the increased vulnerability that service users experience when moving from one setting, system, or service to another:


  • Transitions from corrections to the community, including from custody to community and from community supervision to post-sentence.


  • Transitions from in-patient therapeutic care for mental health and substance use disorders into the community.


  • Transitions into institutional settings for anticipated short stays.


Building off the success of last year’s inaugural Gathering, and the enthusiasm from its participants, we were excited to restructure this year’s event. We extended it across two full days and allowed ourselves to grow our ambitions.


Where last year’s Gathering placed a greater emphasis on connections and conversations, this year’s asked participants to engage in a more active process of idea creation, critique, and revision.


At the end of this moderated process, attendees had developed a series of six concrete, practical, and targeted recommendations for improving system-to-system transitions.


Setting the Stage – The Leadership Gathering, in Context

As a long-standing nonprofit service provider, our decision to spearhead this event for the second year in a row was an easy one to make.


Over 90+ years of operation, we have become all too familiar with the new and evolving ways that communities across BC and in the Yukon can struggle with severe social and health crises.


Deaths from drug poisoning remain at historically high levels; Untreated mental health and substance use disorders in the community bring harm to individuals, cause anxiety in neighbourhoods, and engage the attention of the criminal justice system; Homelessness remains a persistent and stubborn issue; global economic and political turmoil drives the cost of living ever upward; impacts and anxiety from a rapidly changing climate put lives and mental well-being at risk; the ongoing housing crisis puts safety and stability out of reach for many.



As all of this adds up, the speed of change and the rise in complexity demands more from us at every corner – more services to reach more individuals in more places and more ways than ever before.


To make this happen, we all need to work together. This is the promise and the potential of the Leadership Gathering.

Putting Promise into Practice

We were honoured to start this year’s event with the perspectives of those with lived experience – their openness and vulnerability in sharing set the tone for the sessions that would follow, and offered all participants a good reminder of why they were there.


Having heard from those who had navigated service and sector transitions themselves, participants then formed breakout groups to further discuss and explore key issues and roadblocks. Issues were also sorted into one of three types – system level, operational level, or individual (i.e., beliefs and attitudes) level.


In the latter half of the day, the smaller groups came back together, and issues were presented so that all participants had a chance to seek clarification or make further contributions. To set the stage for Day 2, participants then ranked their interest in pursuing solutions to each of the issues that had been identified. Those that received the greatest levels of support were carried forward.


On Day 2, participants again worked together in small groups, this tim to design solutions to the issues voted on during Day 1.


For each solution, the goal was to identify:


  • Who should be responsible for making it happen


  • Key governance and collaboration considerations


  • Financial costs and benefits of the change


  • Principal obstacle(s) to the change


After solutions had been developed throughout the morning, they were presented back to all participants, for review.


The goal was to:


  • Identify where greater clarity was required


  • Identify any unrealistic or incorrect assumptions


  • Identify likely obstacles to progress


  • Identify how the solution could be improved


Groups then had a chance to revise their proposal according to this feedback. When the recommendations were finalized, participants again voted anonymously to indicate which ones they wanted to bring forward to government representatives.

Moving Forward – Next Steps

Witnessing the ideas, perspectives, and connections exchanged at the Gathering was both impactful and inspiring.


With the Gathering behind us we are eagerly shifting our focus to the implementation of these recommendations. Connective will be sharing the Summary Report with a wider strategic audience and will work with government, leading non-profits, and other interested and affected parties to encourage action on the six recommendations.

Sharing Our 2022-23 Annual Report

Our 2022-23 Annual Report is a powerful testament to the ways we’ve continued to grow as an organization and evolve as essential service providers

While no report could ever fully capture the countless ways we’ve continued to grow as an organization and evolve as essential service providers, every line, statistic, and story within represents an important piece of Connective’s story – the impacts we’ve had on the lives of our service users, and the ways they’ve contributed to our vision of a safe, healthy, and inclusive community for all.


While we invite everyone to read the complete report, we wanted to share a few highlights.

Our Year in Numbers

Hair and Makeup Artistry Certifications


Thanks to YESS funding from Employment and Social Development Canada, Connective Kamloops’ employment team supported a number of youths to complete Hair and Makeup Artistry Programs through the Cassidy Wyatt Artistry Collective (CWAC).


The first cohort of students completed programming in winter 2023, to great success – every student passed the course, and eight of them were awarded an ‘Excellence in Artistry’, recognizing them for all their hard work.


In addition to funding course costs, Connective also supported participants with grocery stipends, day care funding, gas subsidies to cover travel to and from the program, and rent assistance so that students could focus on their studies.




“The CWAC Hair and Makeup courses have been life changing. Before taking the courses, I had passion for beauty but lacked the knowledge and skills to turn that passion into a career. I am so grateful…Without this, I never would have had the knowledge and skills to land the dream job I just got offered!”

– Kiana

Expanding Opportunities in Whitehorse

In February of 2023, we were thrilled to announce our fifth program in Whitehorse – a supervised housing and reintegration program for up to six women on conditional release from institutions, giving them the opportunity to return home to an environment that is safe and supportive.

Peter Allik-Petersenn Educational Bursary Winner

“I was incredibly grateful to be chosen as this generous bursary from Connective helped me to cover the costs of my final semester at Thompson Rivers University. It was not an easy decision for me to return to school as a mature student with a family, including three children who depend on me. It was a very challenging two years, but I am proud to share that I have now earned my Bachelor of Social Work degree.” – Karen L (She/Her)

Therapeutic Expression Through Art

“Art therapy is cool because it’s a lot less daunting than traditional talk therapy; because it’s visual, and not as cognitive, it’s more palatable for a lot of people,” says Rebekah. For service users who might be hesitant to seek counselling through traditional means, it can be incredibly powerful.” – Rebekah, Adler University

A Path to Independent Living – Ty’s Story

Ty first came to Rosstown Housing from the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, after spending several years there. At Rosstown, Ty was able to work closely with staff and found a new outlook on life. His willingness to engage with the Forensic Treatment Team increased, and he developed a personal desire to remain clean from substances and create a more holistically enriched living experience.


After a year at Rosstown, Ty was ready to live on his own. Access to a housing subsidy helped bring this long-term goal to fruition, and with the support and encouragement of staff, he was even able to adopt two cats – Puzzle and Jenga – whom he cares for a great deal.


“My two cats are great to have around.”


Advancing Truth & Reconciliation – Connective’s Indigenous Advisory Committee

As part of Connective’s commitment to truth & reconciliation with Indigenous people in Canada, we recognize that it is our duty – as individuals, as an organization, and as a community – to engage with our true history through a process of ongoing learning and unlearning, and to take an active role in decolonization.


The road to reconciliation is a long one, with many steps along the way – it’s with this in mind that we were so pleased to form our Indigenous Advisory Committee this past year.



Complementing our Board of Director’s own knowledge and experience, the committee brings unique perspectives on the history and impacts of colonization, in addition to being experts and leaders in their field.


Together, they will provide critical and historical input to guide and support our Board as they plan activities or develop policies and procedures that impact Indigenous service users and communities.

“This has been an exciting year of Connective’s response to advancing the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations throughout the entire organization. The creation/implementation of the Indigenous Advisory Committee has brought together a diverse view of Indigenous perspectives that are shared in Connective’s delivery of programs and services, developing and revising policies, as well as advancing relationships and partnerships with other organizations in order to help Connective better meet the needs of those whom we serve.”

– Mavis Boucher, Connective Board Member

There’s much more to dive into in our full Annual Report. Click below to learn more!

Sharing our 2022 Leadership Gathering Report

How do we improve service delivery to those facing complex challenges? Our Leadership Gathering tackled this key question.

In October 2022, Connective hosted the inaugural Leadership Gathering on complex service delivery. 



The Leadership Gathering was designed as a first-of-its-kind dialogue between experts from across the justice, health, and non-profit social services sector, and saw 75+ participants gather over two days to discuss how to improve service delivery to those facing complex challenges.  



Setting the Context

Though the Leadership Gathering took place over two days, the journey that led us there was closer to two years. Originally scheduled for May 2020 but delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the inability to hold an in-person event instead gave space for a series of eight virtual panel presentations. These digital discussions kept momentum high throughout the pandemic, provided an opportunity to explore related topics, and helped set the stage and revised agenda for our rescheduled in-person event.  


As a long-standing nonprofit service provider – one that has seen firsthand the challenges of complex care delivery – our decision to commit to this multi-year journey was an easy one to make. The why was clear. Looking at the landscape of social service, there is no shortage of innovative, important, and inspiring work being done. But there is also plenty of untapped opportunity; opportunity to evolve service delivery models, to better coordinate efforts across sectors, and ultimately, to improve the experience of those facing complex challenges.  


In the eight virtual sessions that led to the Leadership Gathering, the importance of realizing these opportunities only became clearer. As we explored the many and varied facets of complex care, we heard from experts in their field and experts with lived experience; from those based right here in BC, and from those around the world, including Australia, the UK, and beyond. During these sessions there was one common refrain, reiterated time and again: no sector exists in isolation. 



Just some of our 8 virtual panel presentations leading to the in-person Leadership Gathering last October 



As participants looked at case studies and recalled their own experiences, we saw how narrow or siloed approaches to programming led to gaps and inconsistencies in service; how, collectively, we faltered as service providers when we zeroed in on one aspect of an individual’s needs without considering the entirety of their experience. 


On the other hand, we saw equally clear examples of the profound impact that coordinated interventions could have. When work is complimentary, its effects are magnified; as one service builds on another, those being supported see exponential benefits. Often, these positive outcomes spill over into a range of indirect social and economic benefits, as well.  

Services often remain in silos based on specific needs: Housing services; drug-treatment services; mental health services; or policing. Unfortunately, people’s needs don’t exist in isolated silos. Those deemed to have “complex needs” typically tick multiple boxes in terms of the services they need but come up against barriers in accessing them. The addiction treatment centre can’t take someone with a developmental disability, or a mental illness. The mental health service can’t take someone who is homeless, or who has a brain injury complicating their behaviour. In too many cases, those needing multiple services are shut out of accessing any services at all.

Between the rising cost of living, the ongoing toxic drug crisis, climate change, and a number other, converging social challenges, there is urgent need for more services to reach more individuals in more places and in more ways than ever before. To make this happen, service providers need to work together.  


During the pandemic, organizations, governments, and individuals saw that this was possible – that when required by crisis, we could shift our approaches and respond with urgency. Now, we have a unique opportunity to sustain this momentum and tackle longer term structural changes. 


All this context helped set the stage for our Leadership Gathering, which kicked off on Thursday October 27, at the 312 Main Building in Vancouver.  

Convening the Leadership Gathering

Mark Miller, Connective’s CEO, opens the Thursday night welcome reception for Gathering participants



The once longtime home of the Vancouver Police Department, the space at 312 Main has since been transformed into a community centered hub. Purpose built for collaboration and innovation, and to inspire the creation of enduring social change, we couldn’t have asked for a more fitting venue in which to begin our Gathering. 


Leadership Gathering participants by sector



Over the next day, together with representatives from other non-profit service providers, social sector ministries, government agencies, health authorities, Indigenous and community organizations, police services, and those with lived experience, we would ask attendees to break down silos, reach across sector lines, and inspire discussion and action around our guiding questions.

“How can we coordinate our efforts to be more effective? How can we better ensure that those facing complex challenges – many of whom sit between multiple mandates or community service provisions – are receiving the full range of services they require, in the format that best suits their needs and preferences? “

After two long years of lockdown and online collaboration, there was palpable energy in the room as we dug into these important issues in person.  


Our Leadership Gathering Agenda



Witnessing the ideas, perspectives, and connections exchanged at the Gathering was both impactful and inspiring. We also knew, however, that the discussion around complex service delivery was much larger than just those we were lucky enough to convene in the room that day.  


Ultimately, the promise of the Gathering, and our ability to make good on its aims, would require a broadening of the conversation.  


That’s why we’re so excited to share our Leadership Gathering Report. An accessible summary of the event’s proceedings and discussions, complete with context for those who weren’t in attendance for the virtual panel presentations that helped to set the stage, is available below.  




We encourage you to explore these conversations, share the report with those in your network who may benefit, and reach out to us at with any questions or comments that you have. 

Our planning committee is now hard at work on this year’s Gathering, and we look forward to sharing more on this event in the months ahead! 


Working at Connective

With our staff always top of mind, we’re excited to share that we have been selected to receive the Nonprofit Employer of Choice Award for the 2022 year!

Here at Connective, we put people first. That of course includes our service users, but also extends to our staff teams.  


Connective staff are the heart of what we do. They give life to our programs, provide direct support to our service users, and work hard to make our vision a reality in communities across BC and in the Yukon. 


Four Connective staff sit at a circular event table, engaged in animated conversation.


We know that if we’re to create transformative social change externally, we need to start with a solid foundation internally; one made up of resilient, diverse, and dedicated staff teams.  


It’s why our recruitment specialists work so hard to invest in passionate and determined individuals, whose unique skills and experiences complement one another while contributing to our common goals. It’s also why we prioritize our employee experience, making sure staff feel seen, heard, and valued, and above all, receive the resources, supports, and opportunities needed to thrive. 


With our staff always top of mind, we’re excited to share that we have been selected as one of 16 organizations across the country to receive the Nonprofit Employer of Choice Award for the 2022 year!  


The logos for the Canadian Nonprofit Employer of Choice Award

“The Canadian Nonprofit Employer of Choice Award recognizes nonprofits whose exemplary talent management practices support successful mission delivery in the communities they serve.”

It’s an honour to receive this award, and to be recognized for the emphasis we continue to place on all those who make our work possible.

Celebrating and Supporting our Staff

We work hard to support our communities, but know that supporting one another is just as important. It’s why we celebrate each win, recognize each milestone, and find the fun in the everyday.


Beyond a great working environment filled with like-minded and compassionate co-workers, we are proud to offer a range of supports and perks to staff, just some of which are captured below.

Free, short-term counselling is available to all staff, so they can receive one-to-one, solution focused guidance with whatever challenges they may be facing. 



Workvivo, a world-renowned internal communications platform, gives staff meaningful and fun opportunities to stay engaged, informed, and connected. 



With status as a Living Wage Employer, we offer competitive salaries and benefits to staff so they can meet their needs and expenses.   



Flexible work arrangements, where possible, allow employees the freedom to contribute to their team in the environment that suits them best. 



Our staff recognition program, High Fives, gives team members a way to celebrate one another for going above and beyond, and be recognized with monthly prize draws. 



To better support the work-life balance of our dedicated staff teams, we’ve introduced lifestyle spending accounts. 



Dayforce Wallet gives financial freedom to all staff, offering access to pay as soon as it’s earned and peace of mind for unexpected life events. 



Benefits are maintained for staff on maternity/paternity leave, so they can focus on what matters most, without worrying about health needs. 



Our pay equity policy helps ensure that we compensate employees the same way for the same work – regardless of race, gender, disability, 2SLGBTQIA+, or other status. 



We want all employees to feel comfortable in who they are, so supports and leaves are offered to staff undergoing gender affirming care 

An Incomparable Team Environment

Each year, we run an employee satisfaction survey to ensure we’re staying on top of the needs of our staff, and many of the initiatives above are a direct result of feedback gained from those surveys.  


In its most recent edition, we asked staff to share the thing they liked most about working with their program – the quotes below are just some of what we heard. 

“I receive lots of support from management, and opportunities to take leadership roles.”

“Our management staff prioritize our clients just as much as staff. I am willing to put in extra effort/contributions because I know my management team would do the same for me. I feel appreciated and valued. I also believe that our program highly prioritizes client success and the way we do things reflects that, as we can build trust with clients.”

“I am so lucky to have the coworkers I do! Being part of a great team makes work so much more enjoyable. Their dedication and commitment to persons served is inspiring.”

“The program allows me to think outside the box while providing support services to my clients. It also helps me to increase the level of awareness and to empathize with people that are going through Trauma, and to know that resources are available to support these folks.”

“I enjoy working with a dedicated team of individuals who are SO committed to supporting the clients in the programs.”

“My manager is excellent, and I love the team of people that I work with. Our clients are great as well. So, the people I work with are the thing I like the most.”

We’re extremely proud to have been selected as a Nonprofit Employer of Choice for the 2022 year, and are eager to do everything we can for our teams to maintain that status moving forward.



If you’re interested in joining our passionate team and helping us achieve our vision of a safe, healthy, and inclusive community for all, we’re accepting applications for direct support, administrative, and management positions.  We encourage you to view our careers page to see what opportunity might work for you! 

Join our Growing Team

Welcome to an All-New

After extensive research, feedback, and data analysis, Connective has a brand-new website. We are incredibly proud to share it with you.

Man smiling with people in the background

In November 2021 we changed our name to Connective. It was an exciting and carefully considered decision, and is a name that more closely aligns with who we have become as an organization, that better encompasses our evolving story, and that more accurately reflects the breadth of our services. In short, it is a name that captures all that we are, and all that we do. 


Over the months that followed our transition to Connective, it was heartwarming to see how enthusiastically our service users, communities, and partners embraced this change. In the spring and fall of 2022, we were honoured to invite teams in Kamloops and Nanaimo to share our Connective name and brand. Together, we are serving more people in more places than ever before and are proud of all we’ve been able to accomplish in support of our communities.


As our name and visual identity evolved, we knew that we wanted our online presence here at to evolve along with it.


That’s why, over much of the last year, we were hard at work in close collaboration with a team of web design and development specialists, and why last week we were so excited to launch our brand-new website. This redesign and rebuild is the product of extensive research, feedback from our teams and communities, and analysis of website usage data; we are incredibly proud to share the result with you.


Our innovative new look and layout better reflects our programs and services; more effectively points service users, supporters, and potential employees to available opportunities; and presents Connective in a way that is more accessible than ever before.


We encourage you to explore the new site and see all it has to offer, but wanted to highlight a few key updates, along with some of the data that informed our decisions.

Digging into the Data

Two graphs, showing a breakdown of website traffic by age group and by gender

A key part of any website rebuild is understanding who is using your website, and how. Through some basic demographic data, we can see that our website is most commonly being accessed by those in the 25-34 age group, and that a majority of users are men. These stats reflect similar patterns in Connective’s service user population, though those numbers are shifting as we continue to offer a greater variety of programs in response to a greater variety of community needs.

A pictograph showing the breakdown of website traffic from mobile devices versus desktops

While our website traffic is still primarily from individuals on a desktop computer (roughly 64%), there is also a significant percentage of users who are browsing on a mobile device (phone or tablet – roughly 34%). This made it clear that an intuitive and engaging mobile experience was an important consideration, and we’re proud of the balance we have achieved.

A graphical breakdown of the most popular pages, and most popular service pages on our website, by percentage of website traffic

As we examined the flow of traffic on our website, it gave us some interesting insight into the pages and topics most commonly accessed by visitors, and some ideas on how to highlight and structure pieces of our new site to better allow people to get where they wanted to go.

A website heat map, showing that a lot of visitors use the contact button

Website ‘Heat Maps’ provide a unique way of looking at the pieces of a website that see the most interest. The examples above and below depict our old website – the ‘warmer’ the section, the more traffic it received. This information helped us better understand what our website users were accessing and informed how we structured and foregrounded key parts of our new website.

A website heat map showing that lots of visitors are interested in our embedded social media content

Digging into the Feedback

During our research phase, it was important that our decisions were based in data, but we also wanted to ensure we were hearing from people directly. In wanting to better understand the needs and desires of those using our site, as well as any pain points with our old one, we conducted a survey. Below are just a few highlights of what we heard.

“The wide breadth of programs is a positive, but it can be confusing to navigate.”

– Challenges with our old website

“The website suffers from a lack of differentiation between locations.”

– Challenges with our old website

“People should be able to easily find exactly what they’re looking for, to minimize search frustration.”

– Opportunities for our new website

“Would be great to see info for a lot of folks – from prospective clients, to funders, and curious citizens.”

– Opportunities for our new website

“I love the videos that give a more in-depth explanation of the services and clients – more of that content would be great.”

– Opportunities for our new website

All the above, plus a whole lot more thought, intention, and best practice, went into crafting the new website you see today. Aside from a general visual redesign, we are proud to introduce other user-friendly features, including a revamped Careers page and multiple ways to find the information you’re looking for.

Digging into what’s New

With a complete visual overhaul, a structure that better highlights our programs and regions, and an innovative and robust filtering system, this new site will help individuals seeking information or service find exactly what they’re looking for.


The best way to see what’s new is to explore. But, for those interested in a guided tour, there are a few things in particular that we’re eager to highlight.


A major focus for this redesign project was making sure that anyone visiting can find what they are looking for with ease. To support this, we’ve organized the website along a few different lines, including by service type and by community.


A screen capture showing the services section of our website

A screen capture showing the communities section of our website

Everyone has a different reason for visiting For those seeking service, a community-first way of exploring our programs and supports might be most useful for finding what’s available near them, but for those seeking general information on our organization, a service-first way of searching might give them the bird’s eye view they’re after. Whatever your need, we hope our new website makes finding it quick and seamless.

Going beyond the overarching ways that we’ve catalogued our programs and services, we wanted to ensure that however you chose to explore, you’d have the right tools to get where you’re going. Our new filtering system does just that, allowing you to choose specific regions, service categories, and services to highlight.


A screen capture showing the filtering tools on our website

Filters have become a common tool for easily navigating online shopping, and more, so why not here, too? With filters come flexibility, and our regional, service category, and service filters give users the tools they need to focus in on exactly what they want, while clearing away everything else.

Finally, as our organization continues to meet the needs of communities across BC and the Yukon, recruitment remains a major focus. Our revamped and culture-driven Careers page will help guarantee that as our Connective team continues to grow, we do so with the help of talented, passionate, and values-aligned individuals.


A screen capture showing the careers page on our website

A screen capture showing the careers page on our website


In addition to highlighting new career opportunities, we wanted this page to convey who we are as a Connective community. Working here means joining a team of passionate individuals that will lift you up and challenge you to grow. We work hard to support our communities but know that supporting one another is just as important. We celebrate each win, recognize each milestone, and find the fun in the everyday. Sharing some of this organizational personality felt like an important way of connecting with those interested in exploring a potential future at Connective.

There’s a whole lot more to explore at the new We invite you to look around, and hope you enjoy learning a bit more about us, and our communities.


Now that the site has launched, the work doesn’t stop. Looking ahead, we’re excited to bring some additional accessibility features online in the weeks to come, as well as building out the program information for our team on Vancouver Island.


If you have any questions or comments about our new website, please feel free to reach out using our contact form.

Welcoming Nanaimo to Connective

Connective was thrilled to welcome the team in Nanaimo – formerly the Nanaimo Region John Howard Society – to our community.

In September of this year, Connective was thrilled to further expand the reach of our community by welcoming the team in Nanaimo – formerly the Nanaimo Region John Howard Society – to the Connective name and brand. As a proven leader in innovative service delivery, they have found increasingly diverse ways to meet the evolving needs of their community, both in Nanaimo and in the surrounding areas. The team is honoured to operate on traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

The team in Nanaimo is made up of:






Housing Units

““Over the last year we spent a lot of time…assessing how [our] name reflects who we are,” said John Horn, Executive Director of Connective in Nanaimo. “Because we’ve got a lot more diversity in our programs and services, we felt we wanted our brand to recognize that diversity.” “

– John Horn, Executive Director of Connective in Nanaimo

The change to Connective is a way to honor their evolution over the years, while better reflecting all that they are and all that they do today.


As with the team in Kamloops, we are proud to work alongside Nanaimo and to have the opportunity to serve more people, in more places, as we work to create safe, healthy, and inclusive communities for all.

“We’ll be looking at who’s really good at doing what pieces and how can we learn from our colleagues and support each other. That’s part of coming together”

– John Horn, Executive Director of Connective in Nanaimo

With their innovative housing, employment, justice, and community living services, Nanaimo brings a range of expertise to the organization, and we are eager for the opportunity to learn from one another. A particular area of interest is their nationally and internationally recognized restorative justice (RJ) program.

Spotlight on: Restorative Justice

During a recent visit to Nanaimo, where we met with staff and visited program locations, we sat down with Beth Stupple, Restorative Justice Program Manager, to talk about RJ, what that phrase means, and how it is practiced by her and her team.


Restorative justice, in its modern sense, has been around for several decades, but its roots stretch much further into the past where it has ties to Indigenous Nations around the world. The way we understand it today is also a product of work in faith-based communities, in the prison abolition movement, and the alternative dispute resolution movement.


In modern practice, RJ begins with a broader set of questions than those typically found in Canada’s traditional criminal legal system.

“In the criminal legal system, they’re asking questions like, what law was broken, and who broke that law, and what is the appropriate punishment based on that? But the questions we ask are different. They look more like, what happened? Why did it happen? Who was harmed? What does repair look like? What needs have arisen due to this harm?”

– Beth Stupple, referencing Howard Zehr’s seminal work, Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice (p.271)

With this desire to go beyond the surface level, restorative justice is, first and foremost, nuanced. Its approach is holistic, well-rounded, and flexible, leaving space for context and for all voices to be heard.


In many ways, RJ defies definition; it is less a singular ‘thing’ or process, and more a set of principles or potential ways of responding to harm.


For Beth and her team in Nanaimo – Juanita, Loraine, and Grace – restorative justice is “a response to harm, conflict, and crime that focuses on repairing relationships, on accountability, and on meeting the needs of those who were hurt…It’s about finding ways to move forward that work for as many of the affected people as possible, and that addresses – to the best of our ability – the root causes of harm.”


When it is appropriate to do so, the process involves bringing the perpetrator(s) of a crime together with the victim, and any relevant members of the community, to discuss the effects of the harm that was caused, and what repair might look like. It’s a voluntary process, on all sides, and involvement of the victim and community can vary from case to case. In some instances, where the victim chooses not to be involved or where their direct involvement would be inappropriate, Beth and her team act as a stand in and try to navigate what community repair might look like.


Whatever form the process takes, RJ creates space for the perpetrator of a crime to take accountability for their actions and the resulting effects and provides the victim or community with some form of reparation, as decided on by those involved

In the traditional legal system, we may view sentencing as the processes endpoint – the individual’s punishment may be shortened for good behaviour, or lengthened in response to breaches, but by and large, the exploration of the crime and its effects has ceased.


In restorative justice, however, the process goes further. Beyond reparation, Beth and her team look to foster reintegration where there was division and work to strengthen community harmony to prevent further harms from occurring.


From its focus on both individual and social dimensions of responsibility, to its commitment to supporting behaviour change, and its deliberate centering of victims and their needs – top to bottom, RJ looks quite different from what we may be used to in the traditional legal system.


In this way, RJ asks much more of those involved. Practitioners must provide for the needs of those who have suffered harm, and guide their involvement in the process without retraumatizing, while also respecting and navigating the complex realities and potential traumas of those guilty of the crime in question – at times it is a delicate tightrope to walk.


As Beth explains, it’s a process built around flexibility. “We offer a lot of choices. We offer pauses and breaks when people need it, and we are consistently checking for trauma responses, and offering grounding exercises and support when needed.” It is important that the process remain responsive to the needs of those involved, so the Nanaimo team “always try to say, what would help this feel safer for you? And give people the opportunity to tell us what kind of process they need.”


When everything comes together, the results can be extremely profound, but as Beth reminds us, it isn’t easy to get there.

“One of the classic myths about restorative justice is that we’re the easy way out; this idea that people are getting let off the hook…It’s not easy to take accountability! Some people might think it easier to face incarceration than the people that they harmed and acknowledge how that harm impacted their lives. Especially in a society where we aren’t actually supported and taught to be accountable for our actions.”

– Beth Stupple

Seeing the transformative impacts of RJ – from the repair of relationships to the embracing of educational opportunities – is inspiring. Through their work, the team in Nanaimo has helped:


  • Survivors of assault supported to feel safer in their community
  • Youth found guilty of graffiti connected to an artist mentor and led to create beautiful local mural art that fulfills their need for expression
  • Break and enter victims work through their PTSD symptoms by meeting with the person responsible, and understanding why they did it
  • A perpetrator of sexual assault receive education around toxic masculinity, rape culture, and consent, and go on to advocate for others in situations of harassment


These examples are just a fraction of many, illustrating the powerful direct and indirect outcomes and possibilities when you allow community the space to come together and repair harm.

The Peter Allik-Petersenn Education Bursary

In honour of Mr. Peter Allik-Petersenn, financial support is available for Canadian students enrolled in an educational program with hopes of gaining employment

Connective would like to recognize the dedication and commitment of our longstanding Board member, Mr. Peter Allik-Petersenn, who retired from the Board in 2022. Peter was an active and dedicated member of the Board for over 32 years, a steadfast advocate of the work of our organization.


A true representation of Connective values and principles, Peter provided unwavering support to our programs and services. A champion of our ACES (Acquiring Community-Based Employment Skills) program, he supported the development and expansion of the program in our community. ACES aims to support people facing multiple barriers to locate and secure employment through ongoing education, training, and ongoing employment support. ACES provides person-centered support for persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, women fleeing domestic violence and abuse, minority groups, youth, and older workers to gain employment in roles that they are passionate about.


To honour Peter’s commitment and dedication to not only our organization the work we do, but also to the citizens of our community, the Board of Directors of Connective is pleased to provide a $2000 educational bursary in fall 2022. At Connective we strengthen communities by supporting people experiencing barriers so that they can achieve greater independence. Through this educational bursary, we are pleased to invest in the future of those who strive to play a part in creating a safe, healthy, and inclusive community for all.


Our Values

  • Inclusive – We create an environment where everyone can feel welcome and respected
  • Accountable – We are responsive, take responsibility for our actions, and honour our commitments
  • Person-Centered – We adapt our approach to the individual and use empathy and compassion in all of our interactions
  • Collaborative – We engage and work closely with others
  • Determined – We are passionate, do not shy away from tough challenges, and respond to setbacks with a renewed drive to succeed


Applicants must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant
  • Be enrolled as a full-time or part-time student in the academic school year, at a recognized university, community college, technical institute, or other post-secondary institution for advanced learning
  • Preference will be given to Kamloops residents and those pursuing education in the social justice or human services fields


The applicants’ studies should be directed towards the goal of enhancing their employment skills to help those in their community to overcome challenges and be successful in life. The number of bursaries awarded in any one year will depend on the fund’s balance and its governing laws.


Bursaries are primarily based on financial need and intended to supplement students’ primary sources of funding. Connective staff will provide annual presentations to various community stakeholders to ensure a wide reach of potential applicants throughout the community.


Applicants are asked to submit the following:

  • A short essay (1500 words or less) providing information on who you are, why you should receive the bursary, and how you align with our values at Connective
  • A description of any past/present educational programs and/or volunteering experience
  • Verification of enrolment in part-time or full-time studies in the academic school year at a recognized university, college, institute, or other post-secondary institution


The bursary will be awarded by a selection committee at Connective, including organizational management staff and members of the Board. The successful recipients will be notified directly, and will be announced publicly. Funding will be provided directly to the educational institution of the applicant.


Submissions may be sent to:
Kamloops Bursary Committee
100-529 Seymour Street
Kamloops, BC
V2C 0A1


Or via email to:


Application deadline: November 4, 2022

International Overdose Awareness Day

Today, and every day, we strive to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and break down the barriers obstructing support for substance use challenges







Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose. On August 31 each year, we come together with communities around the world to remember those who have died from overdose and acknowledge the grief of those left behind. Today, and every day, we strive to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and break down the barriers obstructing support for substance use challenges.

Communities in Crisis

Around the world in the last year, roughly 275 million people have used drugs, an increase of 22 per cent from a decade prior. According to the UN World Drug Report:

In recent years, about half a million deaths annually are attributed to drug use, with more than 70% of these related to opioids. Of those deaths, more than 30% are caused by overdose.

Here in Canada, our communities have been gripped by an ongoing opioid overdose crisis.


In 2021 we saw:

  • 7,560 lives lost due to opioid toxicity.
  • 21 lives lost per day.
  • 2,262 deaths here in BC.


So far this year we’ve seen:

  • 140 overdose deaths in BC, just in June.
  • 649 deaths in the Metro Vancouver area.
  • 47 deaths in Kamloops (the highest number recorded of any area in the interior).
  • 17 deaths in the Yukon.


The stats we can draw on are numerous, just a small fraction represented above, and each one as heartbreaking as the last.


It has been six long years since April of 2016, when a sharp increase in deaths and the introduction of fentanyl into the drug supply caused the overdose crisis to be declared a public health emergency here in BC. While this step was taken more recently by the Health and Social Services Minister in the Yukon (in January of this year), the impacts of the crisis have been no less destructive.


Every life lost from substance use is one too many, and the statistics above, along with others like them, paint a sobering portrait of the innumerable ways our systems have failed to adequately care for those most at risk. It’s a portrait that should give all of us pause, as we try to reckon with death tolls that continue to rise month after month and year after year.


There is simply no excuse.

Working Toward Change

The overdose crisis has wreaked havoc in communities across BC and the Yukon, especially in these last few years as an increasingly volatile drug supply collided with COVID-19 induced isolation, stress, and anxiety, as well as changes in the accessibility of services. The result was a devastating aggravation of an already tragic situation.


Despite this, we have seen some positive steps forward.


In September 2021, the Yukon opened its first supervised consumption site. There, individuals can access a range of harm reduction supplies, as well as referrals to social, medical, and mental wellness and substance use supports.


In January of this year it was announced that, starting in 2023, BC will decriminalize small scale possession of illicit drugs, including opioids. Representing a policy-based shift in understanding of substance use as a health issue, rather than a criminal one, this is a tremendous step forward and one that will have direct positive impacts on our communities.


These changes are just two of many that must be taken. We know that punishing and stigmatizing doesn’t work; that it only distances those needing support and causes further harm. We know that compassionate treatment and care is the only way forward. We know we must all do better.

Supporting our Service Users through Crisis

Here at Connective, International Overdose Awareness Day hits close to home. As an organization that supports individuals facing complex challenges, including problematic substance use, we are all too familiar with the pain caused by overdose deaths.


As the crisis has worsened in recent years, we’ve redoubled on our efforts to prevent and respond to overdoses among those we work with.


This past year our residential programs have increased the frequency of house checks, installed more Brave Motion Sensors and call buttons, stepped up harm reduction supplies and support, and trained an additional 137 staff on the use of Naloxone.


Brave Motion Sensors use non-contact technology to prevent overdose by alerting our staff when somebody has been in the washroom for a designated period without moving. This ensures we can act swiftly if somebody requires assistance.


Naloxone saves lives by temporarily reversing the effects of opioid overdoses, and our in-house trainers offer regular training sessions for Connective staff on its use. This, together with a range of other formal and informal trainings, helps improve our use of harm reduction, trauma informed, and judgement free practices.

Peer Mentors: Steven’s Story

Back in 2020, we also introduced the Peer Mentors program, in response to the ongoing opioid crisis. The Peer Mentors work in partnership with Correctional Health Services and their Community Transition Teams (CTT) to support people with opioid use disorders as they transition from institutions into the community.


Through positive role modelling and a shared understanding of lived experience, Peer Mentors help instill a greater sense of hope and connection for individuals in recovery. Our Peer Mentors support mentees in navigating the substance use and health system, identifying personal goals and community resources, including accompanying them to appointments.


A few months ago, we sat down with Steven Pelland, a new Peer Mentor (and former Peer Mentee), to hear his experience with the program, and what inspired him to get involved as a mentor.


Steven’s story highlights the transformative power of acceptance and person-centered support, and offers a striking example of the multiplying power of social change. In responding to the overdose crisis, it is just one piece of a much larger puzzle; one that encompasses our work here at Connective, the work of countless other community organizations, government bodies, and individuals. We all have a part to play as we work to end overdose.

Sharing Our 2021-22 Annual Reports

Our 2021-22 Annual Reports are a powerful testament to the ways we’ve continued to grow as an organization, and evolve as essential service providers

Mountainous landscape in BC with road through it

Last week we were excited to share the launch of our 2021-22 Annual Reports. A powerful testament to the countless ways we’ve continued to grow as an organization, evolve as essential service providers, and adapt to new challenges and opportunities, these reports present just a handful of the many possible stories and updates from these last twelve months.


We are immensely proud of these achievements, the impacts they’ve had on the lives of our service users, and the ways they’ve contributed to our vision of a safe, healthy, and inclusive community for all.


While we invite everyone to read the complete reports, we wanted to share some of our favorite highlights.

Our Year in Numbers

Connective stats from previous year

*Across all regions (Vancouver, North Fraser, South Fraser, Kamloops, Prince George, and Whitehorse)

Orange Shirt Day Event


Made possible by a grant from the City of Vancouver, the day saw nearly 100 orange shirts given out, with the option to personalize them using fabric paint and markers. The event captured the attention of passersby, with many stopping to talk, learn, and receive a shirt. $265 in donations were also collected, and given to the Indian Residential School Survivor’s Society.


The grant also supported two Indigenous service users to contribute to event programming. Teteulsh#2 opened the day with drumming and singing, and throughout the day shared his experiences with the justice system. Another service user held beaded key chain making workshops, drawing a consistent crowd.

Employment Support through ACES: Jimmy’s Story

Mandy recalls how Jimmy “showed up every day, stayed overtime, and was just very, very interested in practicing on the machines as much as he could.”

“I started the construction course in November, and learned to operate many different types of construction equipment, and took WHIMIS, fall protection, and hazard chemical courses as well…I received all 14 certificates, and I’m quite proud of them.”

“It turned out to be very successful for me, because it led to me getting a job although I have a criminal record.

More than financial, it’s the physical and mental aspect of working that’s keeping me active, healthy, and feeling younger every day…and clear headed, and drug free.”

Whitehorse Residential Support: A Yukon First

WRS has allowed Victoria to return to her community after several years away.

“I felt relieved. I was missing home a lot and feeling out of place…Now I feel recuperated and back on my feet again with my family and friends.”

Coming up on its 1st year of operation, tremendous strides have been made. Victoria has shown proactive and enthusiastic engagement with the program and community.

“It helped me gain my confidence, and my positive outlook of myself.

They’re supporting me and my needs and in everyday tasks, and I just feel appreciated and supported in any way that I need.”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This past year we were excited to take the work and recommendations from our Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Benchmark (GDEIB) committee and DEI audit and build on it with the creation of our new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee. In line with the commitment laid out in our Strategic Plan, the committee was established to provide oversight on the organization’s DEI strategy, and monitor, guide, and report on the implementation of DEI goals within each department.


The committee is comprised of volunteer members from across the organization supported by a DEI Executive Sponsor, and supplemented by DEI Department Leads, who report to the committee on the activities of their department and progress towards DEI goals.

Responding to the Housing Crisis: Diversity Flats

As the housing crisis continues to grip communities across Canada, it’s more important than ever that we support affordable housing solutions, through projects like Diversity Flats.


A major focus for our team this past year, we were incredibly excited, proud, and eager for its grand opening in early 2022. The result of a partnership between our team, the City of Kamloops, and BC Housing, Diversity Flats is a 60-unit affordable housing project that provides below market rate rents to those living with low to moderate income.

Kevin’s* Story

When Kevin was selected for Diversity Flats, he was able to reunite with his pet, and Connective was able to help bridge the gap between his hotel stay, and the start of his residence with us.

A few pieces of furniture and some necessities were also donated, to help him feel established.

Today, Kevin and his pet are doing very well, and are grateful for the opportunity to be together in their new home.

*For reasons of privacy, we have changed the names of some service users


These selections are just so of the many inspiring updates contained in our full annual reports for the 2021-22 year. We invite you to read our whole story, by visiting the link below:

Welcoming Kamloops to Connective

After a significant amount of self-reflection and assessment, the John Howard Society of the Thompson Region (JHSTR) have joined us under the Connective name

We’ve had a few exciting announcements already this year, and today we are pleased to share another. After a significant amount of self-reflection and extensive assessment of their organization, our longtime friends, neighbors, and collaborators at the John Howard Society of the Thompson Region (JHSTR) have transitioned away from that identity and joined us under the Connective name!


Much like our own organization, the team in Kamloops has seen tremendous growth in recent years as they have expanded on their established programs and catered to more diverse needs in their community. Through this growth, they began to feel that their name no longer represented who they were, the work they did, and the communities they served. After an extensive process of assessment, engagement, and self-reflection, the Kamloops team recognized that a new name was necessary to reflect their identity, their mission today, and their vision for tomorrow.

“Once we had evaluated each of our options, the decision was actually quite obvious. A shared brand was the most logical next step for our growing organization.”

– Lindsay Lord, CEO of Interior Okanagan Region

At the core of their decision to become ‘Connective’ is our shared DNA. For many years we have worked closely alongside and supported one another. Beyond this working relationship exists much overlap, both in the breadth of our services; the person-centered, housing-first, harm-reduction based care we bring to our service users; and the values underpinning all that we do. We are honoured for the chance to continue our work together under the Connective name, brand, and vision – safe, healthy, and inclusive communities for all.


This alignment under Connective will bring significant benefits to the people and communities we serve, both in Kamloops specifically, but across all our regions in general. The sharing of our name and resources will bring increased efficiency, influence, and potential for impact. By enhancing awareness of the Connective brand, we can ensure that our services are reaching those who need them most.

Getting to Know Kamloops


The team in Kamloops is made up of: 








They provide a continuum of support that enables people to live as independently as possible through dynamic, innovative, and person-centered programs and services spanning all areas from housing, to education and employment, justice services, and community based supports. Through these programs, Kamloops offers support to those experiencing developmental disabilities, physical and mental health issues, addictions, and homelessness, as well as those who have been involved with the health, social, and criminal justice systems.


They are determined to deliver supports and services that directly meet the needs of the people and communities we serve, and that contribute to a safe, healthy, and inclusive community for all.


Kamloops’ housing continuum supports people that are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or require unique residential supports to secure and maintain housing that meets their needs. 


Kamloops’ employment and education programs support individuals facing barriers to identify, work towards, and achieve their professional and personal goals.

Justice Services

Kamloops’ justice services provide housing, employment, outreach, community reintegration, advocacy, and support to people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system.

Community Living BC Services

Kamloops’ Community Living Services offer community inclusion, residential, and Home Share services to adults with developmental disabilities who have been referred to us by CLBC.

Spotlight on: Diversity Flats

One project that the Kamloops team is particularly excited about right now, is Diversity Flats.  


Diversity Flats is a 60-unit affordable housing project, in partnership with BC Housing and the City of Kamloops. The project is nearing completion and, when ready, will support singles, couples, and families with low to moderate income, with rents set (and intended to remain) below market rate.


The project will offer:

  •  Accessible suites
  • Studio units and both 1 and 2 bedroom apartments
  • Adaptable 1-2 bedroom adjoining units for supported living arrangements
  • Accessible laundry
  • Indoor and outdoor bicycle and scooter spaces
  • Open parking, with opportunity for an assigned parking stall
  • Opportunity for an indoor storage unit
  • Pet friendly units available

“By supporting the construction of affordable new homes like this, our government is ensuring people can live and stay in their communities, close to family and where they work…These homes will help create a healthy neighbourhood and community that will benefit the city of Kamloops for years to come.”

– David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing

The name of this complex, Diversity Flats, came through careful consideration, with a focus on the inclusion of people of all races, cultures, and genders, and establishing a sense of community and belonging for everyone. The name is in strong alignment with our vision of building safe, healthy, and inclusive communities for all.


The application process is open for general inquiries and application packages. Those interested can contact for more information.

Looking Forward

This is an exciting and significant moment for our organizations. It speaks to the strength of everything that we have accomplished together so far, and holds untold potential for us as we continue to work to support communities across BC and the Yukon moving forward. Together with the Kamloops team under our shared name and vision, we tap into what it truly means to be ‘Connective.’