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Camillo Zacchia

Ann Hibard and Marielle Vaillancourt

Katarina Dedovic and Mehereen Wadiwalla

Stella Gaucher-Murovic

Jim Tremain

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The cards are on sale at Boutique Uniquement Vôtre in Verdun. To buy cards in bulk, contact Brenda Nixon at (514) 768-2668.

The Wellington Centre and Boutique Uniquement Vôtre are part of the SPECTRUM Program at the Douglas Hospital.


4932 Wellington St.
Borough of Verdun
Metro : De l’Église

Phone number
(514) 768-2668 ext. 302

Opening Hours
10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Ann Hibard and Marielle Vaillancourt - Mental Health Artists

That’s Progress!
At first glance, Wellington Centre artists Ann Hibard and Marielle Vaillancourt are as varied as night and day. Ann is passionate about natural food and healing, and Marielle is an expert in math and computer science. But they share the pain of mental illness and a determination to fight stigma.

Together, they create gorgeous handmade cards at the Wellington Card Workshop. Their work is attracting a growing audience. Over twenty thousand appreciative people in business, politics, and from the general public have already received workshop cards in the mail.

Fighting Stigma
Last spring, the Verdun Cultural Centre asked Ann, Marielle, and fellow workshop members to exhibit their work with other local artists. They seized the opportunity as a powerful way to reduce stigma. “We exhibited at the Verdun and Nuns’ Island libraries,” Marielle says proudly. “No one in the audience knew which of the artists had a mental illness.

Better still, we didn’t approach them about showing our art. They approached us!” Both Marielle and Ann are thrilled with the Wellington Centre’s growing presence in the artistic community.

Conquering Shyness
Ann recalls, “When I first went to the Wellington Centre, I was shy. Because I suffer from depression and anxiety, I can easily get overwhelmed, and my anxiety can make my mind race. But when I go to the Card Workshop, everyone is kind and supportive—especially Brenda Nixon, who runs the workshop.

I get so involved with my art that the ‘chattering’ in my head calms down and the day races by.”“ Then we sell our finished cards at the Wellington Centre’s Boutique Uniquement Vôtre** and at card sales held throughout the year at the Hospital and in community.”

Stick Figures…Hardly!
“ I love to help during the card sales,” Ann continues. “It’s a powerful way to reduce stigma. The customers are genuinely impressed. Some, when they first arrive, are under the impression that people with mental illness are just capable of drawing stick figures or dabbing colours onto canvas. “ These sales give us a chance to show that we are artists in our own right.”

Restaurant Rudeness
When asked about stigma, Ann confides, “I’m 63 years old, and I’ve seen a lot of discrimination in my time. “ I’ve been in restaurants,” she confides, “where people with mental illness are seated at a table, quietly eating their lunch, and other customers are staring at them, as if trying to signal to them that they don’t belong.

“ One day, I overheard a customer say, ‘Oh, they shouldn’t allow those people in here while we’re eating.’ “ At that point, I got up from my table and joined the people with mental illness. “ I had to show the customer that he was being cruel. Most importantly, I had to show him he was wrong.”

Face to Face
Marielle Vaillencourt, who has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in computer science, has also felt the sting of discrimination. After some major setbacks in her life, she became depressed, and had concentration difficulties and serious memory problems. She tried to continue working, but found it increasingly difficult. When her sleeping problems, and concentration and memory difficulties escalated, she lost her job.

“One day, I came face to face on the street with one of my former colleagues. She pretended she didn’t see me, stared at the ground, and rushed right by me as if I was invisible. I wish she could have said hello and not have been so uncomfortable around me. “ I’ve always been an achiever. Since I couldn’t do my job anymore, I started to develop my artistic side at the Card Workshop instead.” Marielle enjoys the card sales, “When customers see that people with mental illness can produce this calibre of art, that’s progress!”


What word best describes mental illness?
Ann: Sadness
Marielle: Feeling different

What film has most influenced your thoughts on mental health?
Ann: Ghost on the power of love and spirituality
Marielle: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on the power of friendship

How do you maintain a balanced lifestyle?
Ann: Going to the Wellington Centre
Marielle: Sports, especially walking

Who is doing outstanding work in destigmatizing mental illness?
Ann and Marielle: Brenda Nixon, Occupational Therapy Instructor / Rehabilitation Assistant

In 125 years, will the Douglas still be here?
Ann: Not as it was. Less funding for patients; more research and teaching.
Marielle: Sure, they help many people feel better.

One word that describes the Douglas?
Ann: Great volunteers! People helping people!
Marielle: Involved!

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Affiliated with McGill University. A WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health