by Michael McLellan


“Working together as a united team to give others the tools they need to navigate through their lives in an informed and empowered way.”


michael-mclellanESATTA is a cooperative made up of 6 members who support Self Advocates to find their voices through workshops and training.   In 2010 Gladys Duran, Ryan Groth and Barb Goode with the help of their friend, James White, started the ESATTA co-op.  It was after a work shop: People Planning Together that Gladys and Ryan thought about creating a job where they could be their own boss and help other people by sharing their life experiences. In 2012 ESATTA expanded to include Vancouver Island coastal region where 3 new members were added.


The reasons we started ESATTA:


  • To have more say over what we all do for our jobs
  • To empower ourselves and other Self Advocates as well as ‘be our own boss’
  • To work in a field where we are needed
  • To apply our skills FOR A GOOD PURPOSE
  • To be able to draw from our life experiences to develop meaningful workshops
  • To  foster leadership based on innovation


Gladys explains that “Self Advocates are more receptive when we plan together because we aren’t professionals or textbooks.  We are living it and doing something about it.”


Whereas Barb talks about how important it is for people who have been labelled by others to not feel like someone else is telling them what to do all the time;  she says, “Self Advocates are often left out of conversations in planning their own life.  People need to feel comfortable and ESATTA helps each other do that.” 


And Ryan remembers that it wasn’t easy starting ESATTA, “We had to get our name out there which meant doing a lot of workshops for free.”  Gladys is proud of being part of ESSATA because the co-op model is one where, “…we are all equals and there’s no competition.  We are open and honest and all work together. We are a small group and so really get to know each other as friends and co-workers. We are all different and we each bring something important to the table.”


Today, ESATTA members are trained to teach workshops that give self advocates tools and resources to help with self esteem, confidence and independence. Current workshops included People Planning TogetherSelf EsteemSelf Advocate Leadership, Conflict Resolution, and Breaking Down Barriers.  ESATTA will also customize workshops for clients, facilitate World Cafes, and teach other Self Advocates how to develop their own cooperatives.


ESATTA has recently invited 3 new members, Michael McLellan, Tanya Norman, and Sheenagh Morrison. Michael, who is the Board Chair, says, “More people are asking to also join ESATTA  but overall co-ops operate more effectively with smaller numbers. Instead,  We’d like to help other self advocates create their very own co-op.”


ESATTA members would like to acknowledge and thank the BC Self Advocacy Foundation for their recent grant of $5000.  ESATTA will continue to create and host workshops that empower Self Advocates in their right to self-determination.


ESATTA Co-op Members:


  • Barb Goode                   Burnaby
  • Ryan Groth                  Vancouver
  • James White                 Vancouver
  • Michael Mclellan          Courtenay
  • Tanya Norman              Powell River
  • Sheenagh Morrison     Victoria


Success Stories:


Sheenagh: “I presented in Kamloops in June of this year to  a group of 18 self advocates and about 5 support workers.  ESATTA contracted my friend Shelley Decoste from Kelowna to help me present .

We presented the No more Barriers workshop.  We had an overwhelming response, everyone participated to the best of their ability which was all we ask for. They told us there stories on employment and health, and supportive decision making.  They asked us questions and said that we were awesome and that we knew our stuff.”


Michael: “I taught a Self Advocate Leadership and Conflict Resolution workshop in November with Sheenagh  in Kelowna. These workshops were done for the Okanagan conference. The goal of these workshops was to show where we as  ESATTA members have gotten to in terms of our role as leaders as well as how to deal with and resolve conflict. They of course learned a lot from this and asked different questions. It was a lot of fun, it was a great workshop to teach, and I hope we are able to offer it to others who would benefit from it in the future.”


Ryan: “I would like to share one of my memorable training events I helped teach as a member of ESATTA Co-op.  In May 2011 James, Gladys and I flew to Grand Prairie, Alberta to teach a group of Self Advocates and staff our 1/2day Self Esteem workshop called “Light Your Path While Living In The Fast Lane” and  our 2 day workshop “People Planning Together” which teaches people how to do their own person centred plans.  This was a whirlwind trip; we left Friday morning, flew to Edmonton and then transferred planes to get to Grand Prairie. We met Katherine Fleming who runs an agency called Centre Point and she wanted to support the Self Advocate group in Grand Prairie on how to do their own planning and become trainers. We ran the first workshop Friday night and had lots of fun with the team talking about how to take care of yourself and feel good about who you are. The next two days we taught “People Planning Together” which is my favourite workshop to teach. We laughed, danced, did an interesting thing called laughter yoga, wrote items for planning,  and even had some serious moments when people came to realize that aspects of their lives needed a change. I always feel good when I see people’s eyes light up and say this is my life and I am taking back control. The group were very receptive and that always makes the teaching experience more fulfilling. The group has now started to teach “People Planning Together” to Self Advocates and others in Grand Prairie. I feel good when I see this important information being shared and know that I had something to do with it. The ESATTA cooperative is very important to me and I want to continue to help share our workshops and services whenever and wherever possible.”



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