Focus of our 9th Annual Honouring the Journey 

The National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED) will hold its 9th annual, and first virtual, Honouring the Journey with the theme – Voices of Hope, Tribute, Inspiration and Celebration, to honour the tremendous journey – the triumphs and losses experienced by those challenged by Eating Disorders on Wednesday June 2nd, 2021, as part of World Eating Disorders Action Day.

Keynote speakers for the evening are Karen Flello and Kirk Mason. Karen’s sister and Kirk’s wife, Michelle Stewart, who was head of communications for the BC Ministry of Health, died at the age of 49, from organ failure as a result of her life-long battle with an Eating Disorder. In her final year of life, Michelle wrote a blog which chronicled her lifelong struggle with her Eating Disorder. After Michelle died, Karen and Kirk published Michelle’s blog into a memoir called Shell: One Woman’s Final Year After a Lifelong Struggle with Anorexia and Bulimia. They continue to raise awareness about Eating Disorders and dedicate the funds raised by the sale of the book to the ongoing pursuit of research, treatment and cures for Eating Disorders. Karen and Kirk will share their personal experiences and reflections. The first 100 people to register for Honouring the Journey 2021 will receive a free copy of Michelle’s memoir. To register for the event, please click here.

#Equity4Eating Disorders Panel

The ever-pressing issue of #Equity4Eating Disorders: equity for addressing all forms of Eating Disorders; equity in research and program funding; equity in access to treatment and recovery services; and equity for marginalized and under-represented groups will be the focus of a panel discussion. Moderating the panel is André Picard, an award-winning journalist and one of Canada’s top health & public policy observers and commentators. He has been a part of The Globe and Mail team since 1987, where he is a health reporter and columnist.

The panel will include Kirk Mason, as well as, Tierra Hohn, a public health professional from Toronto whose lived experience ignited her passion for advocacy and building awareness around Eating Disorders and body image, and Zachary Grant, a queer, trans, gender non-binary, social service worker, who works at Sheena’s Place with the first support group in the Greater Toronto Area, for trans, non-binary, and gender questioning individuals with Eating Disorders.

Co-presenting sponsors for Honouring the Journey 2021 are the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships and The Globe and Mail.

“The Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) is proud to be a co-presenting sponsor for NIED in our efforts to increase mental health awareness and accessible treatment to individuals and families coping with Eating Disorders, and to honour their diverse voices and healing journeys,” says Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, Director and Clinical Psychologist at CFIR.

World Eating Disorders Action Day is a day when more than 200 organizations world-wide from over 50 countries unites activists across the globe with the aim to expand global awareness of Eating Disorders as genetically linked, treatable illnesses that can affect anyone. It is a day that brings together members of the Eating Disorder community virtually, including affected individuals and their families, professionals, researchers, and policy makers, to increase access to accurate information, eradicate myths and collectively advocate for resources and policy change.

NIED is a non-profit organization that assists and supports people coping with the effects of Eating Disorders by providing access to educational, informational and other recovery-oriented resources related to the prevention and treatment of Eating Disorders and related mental illnesses in Canada.

Honouring the Journey 2021: Voices of Hope, Tribute, Inspiration and Celebration is organized by NIED in support of World Eating Disorders Action Day. Participation is FREE.

To register for Honouring the Journey 2021, please click here

Backgrounders for Honouring the Journey 2021

Keynote Speakers:

Karen Flello has been privileged to work as a public educator in Victoria, BC, for the past 30 years, beginning her career as a high-school English teacher and now serving as the principal of a K – 12 online Education school. Her love of learning translated into a lifetime in school – as a student, a teacher or an administrator, Karen has been present for 49 “first days of school” so far!

Karen’s connection to Eating Disorders began in her teens when her younger sister, Michelle, developed bulimia. In her role as Michelle’s supporter – and, many years later, as one of Michelle’s end-of-life care-givers – Karen experienced the complex emotions and life challenges that face many family members of ED sufferers and survivors. During those last days, Karen and Michelle’s husband, Kirk, committed to publishing Michelle’s blog into book form and to dedicating funds raised by the sale of the book to the ongoing pursuit of research, treatment and cures for these most devastating illnesses. They published the book Shell in 2015 with the help of Life Tree Media. Karen lives in Victoria with her husband, David, and their son, Andrew. Their son, Liam, and daughter-in-law, Amber, live close by.

Kirk Mason’s love affair with broadcasting began in childhood – his transistor radio a constant companion. That romance blossomed into a broadcasting career that spanned fifty years with stops in nine cities across Canada. Kirk was a member of the RTNDA (Radio and Television News Directors Association) for several years, and was the recipient of a BC Association of Broadcasters Award for Excellence in News Reporting.

Kirk’s sense of community led to many volunteer opportunities over the years. He assumed a leadership role with the United Way of Greater Victoria – a partnership that lasted more than twenty-five years. He is a committed supporter of Doctors Without Borders, the BC SPCA, Victoria Hospice, and NIED.
In 2015, he worked with his sister-in-law, Karen Flello and Life Tree Media in Vancouver to deliver on a promise to his wife, Michelle Stewart, to publish her brave and insightful account of her decades-long struggle with Eating Disorders. Kirk lives in Victoria, B.C.

Panel Participants:

Moderator: André Picard is one of Canada’s top health & public policy observers and commentators. He has been a part of The Globe and Mail team since 1987, where he is a health reporter and columnist. He is also the author of five bestselling books. Picard is an eight-time nominee for the National Newspaper Awards, Canada’s top journalism prize, and past winner of the prestigious Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service Journalism.

He was named Canada’s first “Public Health Hero” by the Canadian Public Health Association, as a “Champion of Mental Health” by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, for his dedication to improving healthcare.

A graduate of the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, André has received honorary doctorates from six universities, including UBC and the University of Toronto. He is a seasoned communicator who employs a conversational style to reach his audience. Additionally, he enlivens his research and commentary with personal stories to provide context for his audience. Fluently bilingual, André will enlighten and pique a sense of curiosity of audience members from all educational backgrounds. Behind the placid exterior lies an inquisitive, perceptive and industrious scribe for whom the work only begins with the official story.

The University of British Columbia recently announced André Picard as one of the Asper Visiting Professors at the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media for the 2020-2021 academic year, winter session. In 2020, Picard was awarded The Owen Adams Award of Honour. This award is the highest CMA award available to a non-physician.

Kirk Mason (see keynote speaker)

Tierra Hohn (she/her) is a public health professional from Toronto. She holds a Master of Public Health and a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management. Her lived experience ignited her passion for advocacy and building awareness around eating disorders and body image. Over the years she has run various workshops and facilitated discussions on such topics. The purpose of this being to create dialogue, educate and offer up tools and resources that can help others feel more comfortable in their own skin. Tierra is also a yoga teacher, author and avid learner.

Zachary Grant (they/them) is a queer, trans, gender non-binary, white, settler, activist, artist, nerd, social service worker, and academic. Zac currently works at Sheena’s Place, where they started the first support group in the Greater Toronto Area for trans, nonbinary, and gender questioning individuals with eating disorders. Zac is also a PhD student in the School of Social Work at York University, researching transgender healthcare and the experiences of trans individuals with Eating Disorders.