"Brett Francis has been a client of the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program for just over three years. I was the Program Manager for the 2012-2013 year and have become the Business Counsellor in 2016. She is a determined professional that was ready to work and do whatever it took to build her company. As her company grew, so did her resilience and tenacity to achieve her goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur. She quickly blossomed as a successful business woman and her passion for breaking barriers around Mental Health and disabilities drove her to become a professional public speaker and advocate for those issues.
I have watched Brett overcome many barriers and stigmas associated with Mental Health and Disabilities. She has taken those challenges and used it as strength to persevere. She not only takes pride in being a person with a disability, but she in still’s pride in others who doubt themselves or struggle with disability related issues. She is a strong inspirational advocate and uses her multimedia sources to reach out to as many people as possible in our disability community here in Saskatoon. In 2016 so far, Brett has been nominated for the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, the Champion of Mental Health Awards and now that Startup Awards Canada for Canadian Resilient Entrepreneur Award.
Over the last 3 years she’s accomplished mountains more than individuals who may not face barriers in society. If someone tries to tell her she can’t do something, she uses that as energy to fuel her drive and not only achieve her goals and expectations, but surpass them. Brett deserves to be recognized not only for all her hard work as an entrepreneur, but as Saskatoon’s community voice for people with Mental Health and Disabilities who may feel as if they don’t have a voice."
Chelsea Wisser - Entrepreneurs with Disability Program
"In support of Sun West School Division's Positive Mental Health Initiative we were thrilled to have Brett Francis speak to our students at our Roads to Success Career Fair. Brett's message was passionate, informative and relevant to the needs of our grade 10 and 11 students. Brett also provided a parent information session that evening that was very well received. I would highly recommend Brett as a presenter. Her personal life experiences and knowledge make her a strong advocate for positive mental health in the workplace and in life!"
Tracy - Sun West School Division
“From the first time I met with Brett her passion for advocating for persons living with mental health diagnoses was evident. Her passion for breaking down barriers for those in similar shoes encouraged me to invite her to speak at the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW)’s annual Business Awards Luncheon this year. Her dedication to the idea of equality is contagious, and her story touched everyone that was in attendance – some of our clients even pulled me aside after the event to thank me for finding such a motivational and fantastic guest speaker such as Brett! I would encourage anyone and everyone to book Brett as your next guest speaker for any and all future events, you will definitely not be disappointed!”
Sarah Thomas - Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work
"Have Depression? Cool!
Got ADHD? Right on!
How about Anxiety? Awesome!
How's that for a disruptive approach to mental illness?!
When I heard those words last night, 2 things happened. First, I did a double take. Then I sat up straight and listened hard, as Brett Francis delivered a fresh and honest message about mental illness.
Brett is a professional speaker and an entrepreneur. She has written a book, records a radio show, and is really freaking strong (just look at her arms!). Brett also has Tourette syndrome and first hand experience working through other mental illnesses.
And she says "that's great!"
Last night, the Business & Professional Women of Regina hosted an amazing event, with inspiring women spreading important messages. The thing about important messages is that they need to be shared. Not just by the people who were a part of the story, but by people who have heard the story. And the story I heard last night about celebrating mental illness is one that needs to be shared.
Say what now? Isn't mental illness this terribly, horrible, dark and scary thing that we want to avoid at all cost? After all, even Clara Hughes admits on her website that she couldn't bring herself to tell her own mother about her depression (her Mom found out from T.V.) because she didn't want it to be a burden.
So, why should we celebrate something that is such a burden? Well...
Who says it's a burden?
What makes it a burden?
Who says it's not a good thing?
How can mental illness possibly be a good thing?
Is there anything in your life that you've been able to say, or do, or feel, or express - because you have a mental illness?
Maybe you're able to empathize with others on a deep and genuine level.
Maybe you are very in tuned with how others are feeling.
Maybe you developed a sense of strength.
Maybe you've written a book or a blog.
Maybe you've been able to share your story with 1 other person who now has hope because of you.
Those are just a few of the reasons why mental illness is worth celebrating.
I came away from last night looking at mental illness with a different lens. A positive lens. And although it doesn't feel quite right say that yet (it's a huge shift in mindset!), it also feels very right.
To all my friends who are struggling and triumphing as you read this. Right on! You are who you are, and I love you for it - not in spite of your mental illness, but because of it."
Kelly Tunison - HR 2.0 Strategy Consulting
"Brett Francis is a dynamic and captivating speaker. Business & Professional Women of Regina were so pleased to have her share insight into caring for and working with mental health issues. Brett's message struck home with all of his when she said, "you are not broken!" Brett speaks from the heart and shares real life stories to educate on caring for our mental well-being. Thanks Brett for all you do in our communities!"
Corinne Johnson, Past President - BPW
"After meeting Brett, I invited her to come to CMHA Saskatoon Branch to share her intriguing story with my staff. I liked her immediately as she is a warm person with a very engaging personality. She came to talk to us and we found her easy to listen to, very intelligent, very funny and her story very enlightening. The staff really enjoyed her and described her story telling as powerful and compelling. Her optimism is contagious as the listeners stated that they felt better about themselves and about opportunities to help others feel better about themselves after listening to Brett. Her description of her real life experiences growing up with Tourette's Syndrome, a diagnosis of ADHD, general anxiety and depression forced us to re think how we may judge and treat people based on appearances and/or behaviors. Her honest portrayal of a young woman overcoming many obstacles to achieve her goals is educational, helpful and empowering. I strongly recommend that you contact Brett to be your next motivational speaker!"
Susan Saville - Executive Director of Canadian Mental Health Association
"I have known Brett on a professional level for a few years and now a personal level. Brett is a champion in the world of disabilities. Not only does she advocate, educate and support individuals and families with disabilities, she lives it. And live it she does – with grace, professionalism, humility and empathy. Brett has a few diagnoses but it is never about her - she is out there to help any and all who suffer.
Brett doesn’t see obstacles – she sees opportunities to grow and lead in the sometimes frustrating and overwhelming world of having a disability. Her positive attitude is infectious and is admired by all who know her.
Brett offers encouragement, hope and a future. She has participated and created television shows, radio shows and websites so that people with mental health issues have an opportunity to have a voice. Her passion comes from deep inside her and it flows into everything she touches."
Shelley Mitchell - Director of Learning Disabilities Association of Saskatchewan
"Brett was our speaker for our 2015 Mayors luncheon. Brett spoke to the heart of the issue, her story was first a story of survival and then of hope. She talked about how she used her mental health issues to her benefit. That was enlightening.
When we have speakers for our mayor’s luncheon my hope is that my friends and neighbors have a better understanding of mental health issues. It has only been in the last 20 years that I really started to look at this issue. When it affects your own family, the ones who are closest to you it can be so frustrating and scary. Mental Health Issues come in all types, sizes and vary with every illness and the person who has it. Some people need more support than others and that support can go on longer than you could have ever imagined.
I think that people like Brett who have lived the experience are the right people to share their stories and to give hope to others, to families and friends. I also think that professionals need to hear what Brett has to say, it would be nice to hear from her family, from their perspective how they coped and what they think they could have done differently or what they feel they did right.
Whenever someone is brave enough to share their story and make themselves vulnerable there is a lesson for all of us, we just have to listen and learn."
Ruth Smith - Executive Director of Canadian Mental Health Association
"Brett is a passionate young woman who has found her calling in speaking out for mental health and wellness. After many years of struggling to overcome her own challenges with Tourette Syndrome, anxiety, depression and OCD, Brett has met them head on and turned them into something positive, and in the process she is making a difference for others. After the death of my son Matt, a friend of Brett's who took his own life after years of mental illness struggles, Brett organized a Fundraiser in his memory, and raised several thousand dollars for the Canadian Mental Health Association in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
She is a passionate speaker, who speaks from the heart about growing up with Tourette Syndrome and the many experiences she endured during her childhood after being diagnosed. She was able to overcome the obstacles that held her back, embrace her uniqueness, and now Brett wants to help others find their own strength and courage, embrace their abilities with confidence, so they too can live their best life and find success in their own endeavours. Brett is a very passionate and hard working young woman, trying to make a difference for others. Brett is a compassionate person who brings great energy to everything, no matter how busy she is with her job, she still finds time to volunteer with numerous non-profit organizations such as TeleMiracle, Easter Seals The Drop Zone, Entrepreneurs with Disabilities, and the Canadian Mental Health Association, to name a few.
Brett is a tireless mental health advocate and enjoys working mental health and other organizations, as well as different types of media, with the objective of building awareness and stopping the stigma and bullying so often associated with it. Brett is endorsed by the CMHA and in May 2015 was the keynote speaker at the Annual Mayors Luncheon in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, which helps fund the many important programs they offer to their clients.
Brett is dedicated to helping others reach their full potential. Brett is an inspiration and has significantly contributed to the advancement of mental health awareness and education."
"Brett is a phenomenal young woman with incredible passion and perseverance. She lives to help others through their mental and physical challenges while building her own entrepreneurial empire. She uses her own personal experience to connect with others via public speaking, television and radio to educate organizations as well as coach others who may be struggling with barriers. Her hard work is an inspiration to so many people and assists in recognizing, en masse, the importance of implementing a solid mental health management strategy within every organization."
Naqsh Kochar - Refresh Enterprises
"Brett Francis has been a speaker at two events for the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program. Brett’s story of overcoming the odds is inspiring and is key to breaking down barriers on disability issues. Her message moved the audience and started important conversations among attendees following the events. I can’t thank Brett enough for being involved with our events and sharing her story."
Heather Stuart - North Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre