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March 10, 2020

OPDI’s 2020 Peer Support Conference: Save the Date and Call for Proposals

Conference Date: Monday, October 5 and Tuesday, October 6  in Toronto

Extended Proposal Deadline: May 15, 2020

We are excited to invite proposals in several formats for our two conference themes. All are welcome to submit a proposal, including those who will be first-time attendees. 

The conference is typically attended by people from across the province of Ontario, with a range of relations to peer support (peer volunteers, peer support workers, people exploring the area of peer work, peer supervisors/managers, peer researchers, people collaborating with peers, allied health professionals supporting peer work, government representatives). Some attendees are relatively new to the area of peer support, others have been working in the community for a long time and are looking to challenge themselves with new ideas. We thus seek proposals that are relevant to a wide audience, as well as more specialized participant groups. 

Note: This year we are adding a ‘peer playground’ session that welcomes anyone with a specific interest or question related to peer work to call a small group of conference attendees together for networking and conversation on that theme (see further info below). This is a great way to seek out colleagues or gather some feedback! 

Conference Themes:

  1. Promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in peer work
    • Different ways of understanding ‘peer’ work (connection and community through shared experiences) 
    • Mental health and addictions peer support with diverse communities (e.g. seniors, children and youth; 2SLGBTQ people; racialized communities; newcomers to Canada; First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people; faith groups; people with disabilities)
    • Peer-based programming in support of wellness beyond the mental health sector (e.g. related to grief, end-of-life, cancer, disability, racism, immigration, sexual/gender identity, trauma, workplace stress, abuse, poverty, homelessness) 
    • Equity, diversity, and inclusion in staff hiring and training, board governance, and organizational development of peer programs
    • Strategies for challenging prejudice, discrimination, and coercion as peer workers; peer work as social justice work    
    • Opportunities for solidarity with interrelated movements and community groups (e.g. anti-poverty, restorative justice, disability rights, harm reduction, anti-racism, settlement, environmental activism, employment equity, anti-violence, labour unions)
    • Other related session topics
  2. Innovations in and advocacy for peer voice, mutual aid, and peer support in mental health and addictions
    • Grassroots peer initiatives (funded and unfunded)  
    • Individual, group, and community peer support practice 
    • Peer supervision
    • Peer education, training, and professional development 
    • Peer research and evaluation
    • Organizational growth, development, and sustainability of peer programs
    • Advocating for peer voices 
    • Allied healthcare professionals supporting peer voice and peer support 
    • Opportunities, challenges, and successes in partnership and collaboration
    • New settings for peer initiatives (e.g. education systems, workplaces, professional associations, neighborhoods, online, outdoors) 
    • Raising the profile of peer work

Session Formats:

  • Presentation: 20 minute presentation, 10 minutes for questions
  • Panel /Round Table Discussion: 60 minutes (2-4 speakers each present some ideas for consideration; at least 30 minutes for discussion) 
  • Workshop: 60-90 minutes   
  • Peer Playground: Present some of your work-in-progress, a new peer initiative, a pressing question/dilemma, or a topic of interest at a roundtable and engage in discussion with a small group of enthusiastic peers (20-30 minutes) 
  • If you would prefer to submit an alternative format (e.g. artistic piece, film screening), please include this information in your submission. 

Proposals should include the following:

  • Session Title
  • Presenter(s) Biography (up to 50 words) 
  • Contact Details
  • Audio-Visual Needs / Desired Room Set-Up
  • Session Format 
  • Abstract (to be used in advertising materials, 100 words or less)
  • Proposal Details (up to 500 words)
    • Description of the proposed session (informative background, content/focus of the session, target audience) 
    • Explanation of how the proposal aligns with one or both of the conference themes
    • Explanation of how session attendees will be engaged in discussion/interaction 
    • Identification of what the attendees will learn/gain from attending the session (new knowledge, new skills/tools; e.g. By the end of this session, participants will be able to…)
    • Note: Playground proposals do not need to be this elaborate, but should give the Conference Committee a sense of who you are and what you’re wanting to discuss with a group of conference attendees

Please submit your proposal by e-mail to or fax to 1-866-441-2741.

All proposals must be received by May 15, 2020.

Proposal Review and Selection: 

Proposals will undergo peer review by the OPDI Conference Committee and be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Session description and goals are clear 
  • Session is likely to be of great relevance and interest to conference attendees
  • Presenter biographies explain their connection to peer support 
  • Session will create opportunity for discussion 
  • Participants will leave the session with new ideas, questions for consideration, and/or concrete tips/strategies to implement in their own practice 

Conference Committee Members:

  • Alise de Bie
  • Tyrone Gamble
  • Sarah Mortimer 
  • Laura Pearson
  • Calvin Prowse
  • Kari Sterling
  • Allyson Theodorou 

For further information please contact Allyson Theodorou at 416-484-8785 ext. 2 or by e-mail at

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