Sharon Blady - Geek Girl & Former Minister of Health
Who Is She?
Sharon is a comic book geek and academic who also spent some time as Manitoba’s Minister of Health. She is now a mental health advocate empowering others to Embrace their Superpowers.
Sharon is passionate about using her lived experience of mood disorders as part of a vision for helping others better understand, and achieve improved mental health and well-being.
Having had a variety of experiences in her life that range from being a single mom on social assistance, to being responsible for a $6 billion health department budget, and from domestic violence, cancer, and suicide survivor to published author, entrepreneur, and public speaker, Sharon has seen the world, and her mental health diagnoses, from a number of perspectives. She believes the best way to support others is to meet them where ever they are in their journey.
Sharon's has always seen her overarching job description as "How can I be useful?" whether she was providing a social justice perspective in university classrooms in B.C., Manitoba, or Ontario, to her students in Indigenous Studies, Social Work, Nursing, Anthropology, or Women's Studies programs, or when she was representing her childhood neighbour in the Manitoba Legislature.
Now Sharon takes her experience as an advocate to volunteer and board positions for a variety of non-profit organizations, and to teams where she can continue to work for improved mental health supports, increasing access to recovery-based models, and harm-reduction programming.
She is combination of Wonder Woman, Wolverine, Buffy, and Holtzmann.
What’s Her Story?
Sharon was teaching in feminist and Indigenous studies programs when she was recruited by Manitoba Premier Gary Doer to run for public office in 2007. That year would be a turning point for her in many ways. Not only did she begin a new path serving her neighbourhood, but her victory also resulted in her experiencing domestic violence.
Amidst all of this, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Viewing challenges as opportunities, rather than obstacles, these circumstances became the fuel for writing two pieces of first-in-Canada legislation and working on government projects related to domestic violence prevention and survivor support. It also brought her to a place where she reframed what it meant to live with a mood disorder.
Sharon’s anxiety-related mood disorder became a source of strength, a Superpower, to be harnessed and directed for personal, familial and organizational growth. With this belief, as Minister of Healthy Living, and later, as Minister of Health, she worked with mental health experts and advocates to improve supports for those with lived experience, and most importantly to end stigma. She continues this work to help others Embrace their Superpowers, and to create healthy treatment, family, community, and working environments for all.
A vibrant speaker who loves interacting with audiences the same way she interacted with her students, Sharon brings the ability to speak to groups that range from small workshops, to large keynote audiences and looks forward to sharing her experiences and perspectives to help others embrace their strengths for personal growth and problem-solving within organizations.