First meeting of the Consumer Participation Task Force

This story will appear in my upcoming book Framework for Support:  A Retrospective – 1984 – 2004:

Bonnie Pape, newly hired Director of the CMHA National Framework project, described the first meeting of the “Consumer Participation Task Force” (forerunner of the National Consumer Advisory Committee -NCAC)

            In June 1986, seven wary strangers met at the Marlboro Inn in  Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  Some remembered each other from “Empowerment through Partnership,” CMHA’s search conference held the previous fall.  … I was the eighth stranger:  the staff person organized to help organize the meeting and help carry out the workplans.  When I think back on that first meeting, I can remember some distinct impressions:  Dave Beamise [consumer, B.C.] muttering outrageously funny observations, Hugh Lafave [psychiatrist, Ontario] passionately arguing his points, Mary McIlray [consumer, Manitoba] making everyone feel comfortable, Cathy Medernach [consumer, Manitoba] drawing on impressive knowledge and experience, John Lord [researcher and community organizer, Ontario] skillfully facilitating, Jane White [consumer, Manitoba] greeting me warmly as if I were an old friend, and Shirley Prudat [consumer], joining us from a Prince Albert self-help group, fitting in with an easy smile.  (Dave Millar [psychiatrist, president of CMHA Sask], the eighth member, could not attend the first meeting.  I recall people expressing feelings of skepticism about what the group might accomplish but nevertheless struggling to hammer out preliminary plans.  Most of all, I remember us starting to trust and rely on one another, and then starting to laugh together.