Mental Wellness at ECMA 2021

A series of educational and peer led workshops held in person during the East Coast Music Awards in Sydney, NS from May 5-9th, 2021 to support the mental wellness of musicians and music industry professionals who are experiencing the decimation of their industry by COVID-19 physical distancing measures.

Full Schedule

Please note, the majority of these sessions do not require registration. However, capacity is limited so please arrive on time to access the session.

Monday, May 3, 2021 - Tuesday, May 4, 2021


Thursday, May 6, 2021

  • SESSION: A Place to Hang My Hat: Housing for those in the Music industry - 3:30PM @ Holiday Inn

Friday, May 7, 2021

  • MEET UP: Move into Wellness, 10AM, City Hall on the Boardwalk
  • SESSION: Artists Supporting Artists - Peer Support, 4PM @ Holiday Inn

Saturday, May 8, 2021

  • SESSION: ECMA Strategic Plan - Roundtable on the Social Determinants of Health, 10:30AM @ Holiday Inn

Wednesday, May 5 to Saturday, May 8, 2021

  • Mental Wellness Centre - Offering yoga sessions and a place to find peace throughout the Festival. Open 8:00 AM 6:00 PM at the Holiday Inn- Cabot Room.

Thursday, May 6 to Saturday May 8, 2021

  • One-on-One sessions, available by request only. Email to book a session.

For detail for each session, please see below.

Mental Health First Aid

Basic programming

Mental Health First Aid - May 3 and 4th.

Mental Health First Aid course presented by St.John Ambulance

Monday May 3rd and Tuesday May 4th

Holiday Inn Ballroom in Sydney, Nova Scotia

9am-4pm (both days and the participants need to commit to both days)

Cost: Usually 150.00 but as we have sought funding the cost to the participant will be FREE.

12 seats available

Information about Mental Health First Aid (MHFA):

"Mental Health First Aid is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing the worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. Just like physical first aid is provided until medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate support is found or until the crisis is resolved." - Mental Health Commission of Canada

Who should take MHFA:

Everyone and anyone who wants to be able to gain a better understanding of mental health, become aware of the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and to feel confident when providing support to friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, and / band mates who are experiencing mental illness or a mental health crisis.

For more information on MHFA

Registration closed.

Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 3:30-4:30pm

A Place to Hang My Hat: Housing for those in the Music industry

Focus on Co-operative Housing

Securing affordable and adequate housing is hard to do when you don’t have a traditional job. Landlords and banks look for pay stubs or proof of future employment to determine who will get an apartment unit or qualify for a mortgage. The ability to access safe and affordable housing is one of the Social Determinants of Health which impacts one’s ability to maintain mental wellness.

Karen Bordeur from the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada and East Coast artist Christine Campbell will discuss the importance of housing. Creative opportunities to advocate for viable solutions for those in our sector will be explored with a special discussion of Co-operative Housing.


Karen Bordeur - Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada

Karen is the Regional Manager, Atlantic for the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada. She has spent the last 25 years working from coast to coast in the co-operative housing sector. In 2013, she graduated with a Masters of Management Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary’s University, completing her thesis on scale and housing co-operatives. After graduating, Karen spent three years on the board of directors of the Co-operative Management Education Co-operative, working to support the advancement of co-operative management education on partnership with Saint Mary’s University. In 2016, Karen developed the sector led co-operative Compass Nova Scotia Co-operative Homes Ltd. and currently provides both governance and management support to the co-operative. Karen is passionate about the sustainability and expansion of mixed income, inclusive co-operative communities.

Christine Campbell

Christine Campbell has been building a name for herself, entertaining audiences with her soulful tone, 60's and 70s rock style guitar riffs & bewitching vocal harmonies, and opening up for some big names, like Burton Cummings, Steve Earle & Bob Segar.

2020 was a challenging year for all musicians, but, it's always darkest before the dawn, and on May 20th 2021, she and her partner in crime Blake Johnston release their new self titled EP, Campbell & Johnston’s Black Market Band. This new record produced by Johnston himself, adds a touch of their old school rock influences with a modern twist on blues and soul.

Errin Williams - Moderator

A combination of mental health and music industry experience, Masters level clinical social worker, Errin Williams, has over 12 years of experience as a mental health therapist, and is the clinical lead for the East Coast Music Association’s Wellness Initiative. She also was a founding member and former artist director of Harmony Bazaar Festival of Women & Song. ECMA is a Mental Health leader in the Canadian Music Industry. Errin has been imperative to the development of ECMA’s mental health initiative demonstrated through the completion of a mental health survey of its members, the development of a strategic plan, and direct individual / group intervention to support and promote mental wellness.

Friday, May 7, 2021 - 10:00am

Move into Wellness

The connection between physical activity and mental wellness is well documented. Movement, activity, and mindfulness attribute to physical health, enjoyment, mood regulation, and focus. Come join Recreation Therapist / Singer Songwriter Matt Steele, and Yoga Teacher / Singer Songwriter Linda McLean for an interactive outdoor adventure on the beautiful Boardwalk in Sydney.

Meet up outside City Hall on the Boardwalk (between Holiday Inn and Cambridge Suites).


Linda McLean

Linda McLean is an award-winning, critically-acclaimed musician and author, a yoga instructor, arts professor and mentor who believes our creative nature is the portal to self-awareness and fulfilment. Her current project is the book The Importance of Being Important, with an accompanying acoustic CD of twelve songs to amplify the themes in the chapters.

Matt Steele, CTRS

Active in the East Coast music scene since 2010, Matt Steele is a recreation therapist and musician who loves to combine a passion for mental health with his lifelong love of music. Along with five years’ experience volunteering with and working for Nova Scotia Health, Matt is now a member of the East Coast Music Association’s Wellness Initiative. He also sits on the marketing committee for the Nova Scotia Therapeutic Recreation Association, and is currently working on a metal/punk/rock-themed mental health workbook with artist Teri Boates.

Artists Supporting Artists - Peer Support

Friday, May 7, 2021 - 4:00-5:00pm

Shared experience and personal connection are powerful. Peer Support Canada offers “Peer support is grounded in hope, empowerment, and recovery”, and seeks to limit social isolation and encourages mental wellness. Peer to peer support can take many forms; organized peer support groups, professionally trained peer mentors, or a group of people with shared life experience coming together to play on a sports team or participate in a book club.

The importance of coming together to support one another has become more prominent for those working in the music industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. East Coast artists came up with creative ways to support each other.


Rhonda Tuck-Lane

Jason MacIssac

Errin Williams - Moderator

ECMA Strategic Plan - Roundtable on the Social Determinants of Health

Saturday, May 8, 2021 10:30am-11:30am

Financial security and employment, alcohol and drug use, access to healthy food and safe housing, social inclusion, and physical health are just a few of the social and economic factors which influence people's health. ECMA has strengthened its commitment to promote and develop programming to increase mental wellness and resilience through its development of a Mental Wellness Strategic Plan. Join us to learn how social and economic factors impact those working in the music industry and the collaborative and holistic plan to create a more resilient and well industry.


Norma MacDonald

Errin Williams

Leanne Hoffman

Matt Steele

One-on-One sessions

May 6-8, 2021

Do you have concerns about your mental health of substance use? Have you had difficulty accessing support you feel would help you? Have you self diagnosed based on symptoms and would like a professional opinion? Are you looking for a plan to achieve mental wellness?

Errin Williams, licensed clinical therapist and social worker with over 10 years of mental health counselling experience, will talk with you during the ECMA conference either in person or virtually.

Please reach out to book an appointment There is no charge for this service.