Canadian Women’s Peer Support Heart Hub

Canadian Women's Peer Support Heart Hub

What is Peer Support?

“Peer support is emotional and practical support between people who share a common experience, such as a mental health challenge or illness.”

Adapted from Peer Support Canada 

Women living with diseases of the heart and blood vessels need more than medical care. Peer support empowers women and provides a safe place to meet, bond and share experiences and can come in many forms (i.e., in-person, virtual, formal, informal, women only and mixed groups). 

The purpose of the Canadian Women’s Peer Support Heart Hub is to connect women with peer supports that are right for them. The intent is to increase awareness and connections for women living with heart and vascular disease with peer supports that meet their needs. 

Programs on this list have been selected based on the following criteria:

   Based in Canada       Inclusive of women       Heart and vascular disease   
Based in Canada    Inclusive of women Heart and vascular
disease focus

DISCLAIMER: This directory is meant to connect women with heart and vascular disease with additional support and resources and is not intended to provide medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your health and medical care. While we have applied review criteria when adding these programs and resources, how you choose to use these programs and resources will be at your own discretion.


Directory

National Peer Support Programs

Provincial & Territorial Peer Support Programs

ICON LEGEND

virtual groups

Virtual Group

In person groups

In-Person group

women only

Women Only

Mixed groups

Mixed group 

Potential Fee

Potential fee

English and French

English & French

 

NATIONAL PEER SUPPORT PROGRAMS


Canadian Women with Medical Heart Issues Facebook Group
A casual, private Canadian women's lifestyle group dedicated to the support and information sharing about living with heart health issues. While we focus on the positive, it is a safe place to vent & share about all elements of living with heart issues.

Because we are a lifestyle-based group, personal sharing of heart stories, kids (human and fur), gardens, exercise accomplishments, etc are all welcome. Inspirational quotes, sayings and photos are encouraged too. We focus on Canadian medical advancements, research, information but all relevant will be shared. Having medical heart issues changes our lives, having each other to lean on helps make it doable. 

virtual groups women only

Visit Canadian Women with Medical Heart Issues group >>

Location: Virtual, national
Contact: Jackie Palicka-Ratz, jackieheart@mymts.net

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CANchat SCAD Facebook Group 
This group is specific to Canadian SCAD survivors who want to build more personal, meaningful relationships with each other and to offer mutual support throughout our recovery period and beyond. 

This group has been created to encourage and facilitate valuable face-to-face opportunities for SCAD survivors in Canada to get to know each other; ideally in real life post-COVID or via regular zoom calls. Admins are trained as peer leaders by the Canadian Women's Heart Health Centre so we can support you as effectively as possible. 

virtual groups  In person groupswomen only

Visit CANchat SCAD group >>

Location: Virtual, in-person, national
Contact: Risa Mallory, risa_mallory@hotmail.com or 
Helen Robert, hrobertnw@gmail.com

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HeartLife Foundation-CoeurVie 
HeartLife Foundation is Canada’s first – and only – national patient-led Heart Failure organization. We are a Federal Charity aimed at raising public awareness of Heart Failure, engaging patients, families, and caregivers to provide education and support, facilitate access to the latest research, innovations, and treatments, and advocate better care for all.

This is a closed group for patient and family carers only. HeartLife Foundation - the Patient Voice for Heart Failure in Canada - set up and manages this group so that people affected by heart failure can talk freely and share experiences in a safe environment with others that understand. Armed with great information, a positive attitude, friendly support and consistent encouragement we can all improve self-management, which can offer an improved quality of life and better patient outcomes. 

virtual groups Mixed groups

Visit HeartLife website >>

Location: Virtual, national 
Contact: info@heartlife.ca

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Heart & Stroke, Community of Survivors 
Connect with others living with heart disease or stroke. If you have experienced a diagnosis or event, this online community is here to support you.

The Community of Survivors allows you to share stories, resources, tips and questions with others who have gone through similar experiences. This closed, moderated, bilingual space can provide social and emotional support in a safe, inclusive and respectful community.

virtual groups Mixed groups

Visit Community of Survivors website >> 

Location: Virtual, national
Contact: engagement@heartandstroke.ca 

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Women @ HeartTM, Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre (CWHHC) 
The Women @ Heart program is a peer support program led by women with heart disease, for women with heart disease that aims to create a caring environment for women to learn from each other and support one another on the road to recovery. The program provides women with heart disease, in every community, with access to emotional support, education support and a caring environment for a better recovery.

Women @ Heart lasts four months and consists of 10 two-hour sessions held weekly and bi-weekly in community settings across the region or virtually via the zoom platform. It is free and a physician referral is not required. The sessions are run by Peer Leaders who are women who have had a successful recovery from heart disease and have a strong passion for supporting and helping other women on their road to recovery. 

In person groups virtual groups  women onlyEnglish and French

Visit the Women @ Heart website >>

Location: Virtual, national (ON, NS, MB, BC)
Focus: General heart disease, SCAD-specific groups
Contact: Nadine Elias, womensupport@ottawaheart.ca

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PROVINCIAL & TERRITORIAL PEER SUPPORT PROGRAMS

ALBERTA


Woman to Woman Cardiac Support Group 
Woman to Woman is a special interest group addressing the specific concerns of women with heart disease. It is organized and operated under the parent Heart to Heart Society.

The Mission of Woman to Woman is to provide support and encouragement to women with heart disease as they examine and deal with issues unique to women.

In person groupswomen only

Visit the Woman Cardiac Support Group website >>

Location: Calgary, AB
Contact: info.womantowoman@gmail.com

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BRITISH COLUMBIA

Hearts of Gold 
Hearts of Gold gives opportunities for youth ages 13 to 19 to meet, learn, and have fun with other youth who have experienced growing up with heart disease. There are two Hearts of Gold groups, one in the Lower Mainland and one in Victoria. 

Events are planned and supervised and help youth who are new to the group connect with new friends and become comfortable to ensure everyone has a great time. Youth must be able to manage without assistance for 3-4 hours to participate.

In person groupsMixed groups

Visit Hearts of Gold website >>

Age: 13 - 19
Location: Lower Mainland and Victoria, BC
Contact: Kristi Coldwell, chnheartsofgold@gmail.com

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MANITOBA

Heart Failure Support Group of Manitoba Facebook Group 
This is an in-person group that meets approximately 4 times per year (suspended during COVID). Each meeting is a planned social event and incorporates an educational component as well.

Events are designed to provide opportunities for Heart failure patients to meet, interact, support and learn from each other in a safe understanding environment. 

In person groups virtual groups Mixed groups

Visit the Heart Failure Support Group of Manitoba group >>

Contact: Estrellita Estrella-Holder, eestrell1@yahoo.com

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Heartland SCAD Survivors Facebook Group
This group provides a safe, confidential and encouraging environment for those who have experienced a rare cardiac event known as Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). We will not provide medical advice but will encourage sharing of information that survivors have gathered along the way from their doctors and cardiac specialists.

We offer a community of support and understanding with respect to survivor concerns, fears, and the complex nature of this condition. Although this is a Manitoba-based group in Winnipeg, SCAD survivors from across Canada are welcome. 

In person groupswomen only

Visit the Heartland SCAD Survivors group >>

Location: Winnipeg, MB 
Contact: Patti LeBlanc, garrden@shaw.ca

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NEW BRUNSWICK

We are unaware of any peer support programs available within this province. If there is a program that you know about, please share it with us here.

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NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

We are unaware of any peer support programs available within this province. If there is a program that you know about, please share it with us here.

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NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

We are unaware of any peer support programs available within this province. If there is a program that you know about, please share it with us here.

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NOVA SCOTIA

SCAD Support group, Nova Scotia, Facebook Group
This group provides a safe, confidential and encouraging environment for those who have experienced a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). We do not provide medical advice but encourage sharing of information that survivors have gathered along the way from their doctors and cardiac specialists.

We offer a community of support and understanding with respect to survivor concerns, fears, and the complex nature of this condition. 

virtual groups In person groupswomen only

Visit the SCAD Support Group >>

Location: Halifax, NS 
Contact: Kathryn Cook; mktcook10@yahoo.ca or via Facebook Messenger: “Kathryn Pheby Cook”

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NUNAVUT

We are unaware of any peer support programs available within this territory. If there is a program that you know about, please share it with us here.

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ONTARIO

The Beat Retreat, Canadian Congenital Heart Association (CCHA) 
The Beat Retreat is a fun-filled, four-day weekend for adults living with congenital heart disease (CHD). You’ll have an opportunity to participate in a mix of traditional camp activities – all geared to your physical ability and comfort level.

Equally important, you’ll have an opportunity to make new friends and learn from the experiences of others living with CHD patients. In addition to an engaging educational component (guided by healthcare professionals), you’ll also have an opportunity to chat with healthcare professionals in a relaxed and informal setting. In short, it’s a weekend of fun, friends, firsts, and great food.

In person groupsMixed groupsPotential Fee

Visit The Beat Retreat website >>

Location: Kitchener, ON
Age: 18+
 
Contact: thebeatretreat@cchaforlife.org 

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Healthy Hearts Peterborough 
Healthy Hearts Peterborough is designed and run by people with lived experience, to support graduates from Cardiac Rehab to stay motivated and apply the learnings to stay “on track”.

Patients and family members are encouraged to attend. Healthy Hearts Peterborough offers heart-healthy information online and in monthly meetings, securing expert presenters on developing a heart-healthy lifestyle. Completion of a Cardiac Rehab program is a prerequisite for acceptance into this program. Ask your doctor to refer you to Cardiac Rehab, if they haven’t already done that.

In person groupsvirtual groups Mixed groups

Visit Healthy Hearts Peterborough website >>

Location: Peterborough, ON​
Contact: Mike Hammond, cardiacra.mailpboro@gmail.com

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Women @ Heart Bedside Volunteer Program, Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre 
The Women @ Heart In-patient Support Program is a peer-to-peer support opportunity in the hospital for women recently diagnosed with heart disease.

After being diagnosed with heart disease, many women experience feelings of isolation and depression. Being able to talk to someone ‘’who’s been there’’ can make a difference in emotional recovery. Through the Women @ Heart in-patient Support Program, women can connect one-on-one with a Women @ Heart in-patient volunteer who can provide needed support at the bedside.

In person groupsvirtual groups

Visit the Women@Heart Bedside Volunteer Program website >>

Location: Ottawa, ON
Contact: Nadine Elias, womensupport@ottawaheart.ca 
Phone: 613-696-7069 or toll-free 1-866-399-4432

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Women @ Heart, Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre 
The Women @ Heart program is a peer support program led by women with heart disease, for women with heart disease that aims to create a caring environment for women to learn from each other and support one another on the road to recovery. The program provides women with heart disease, in every community, with access to emotional support, education support and a caring environment for a better recovery.

Women @ Heart lasts four months and consists of 10 two-hour sessions held weekly and bi-weekly in community settings across the region or virtually via the zoom platform. It is free and a physician referral is not required. The sessions are run by Peer Leaders who are women who have had a successful recovery from heart disease and have a strong passion for supporting and helping other women on their road to recovery. 

In person groupsvirtual groupswomen onlyEnglish and French

Visit the Women@Heart website >>

Location: ON, NS, MB, and BC 
Conditions: General heart disease, SCAD specific group 
Contact: Nadine Elias, womensupport@ottawaheart.ca

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Women's Cardiovascular Health Initiative 
Women's Cardiovascular Health Initiative (WCHI) is Canada's first gender-specialized Cardiac Rehabilitation Program located at Women’s College Hospital (WCH). The program opened its doors in 1996 to provide cardiac rehabilitation and primary prevention for women. A multidisciplinary health care team offers a comprehensive assessment and lifestyle counselling, education and support through individual and group sessions for women with cardiac conditions or those at high risk for heart disease.

An on-site exercise program is available for those participants who require medically supervised exercise training and will have an opportunity to meet graduate volunteers for peer support. Our goal is to help women recover from a heart attack, surgery, or help women living with a cardiac condition make healthy lifestyle changes, provide support and self-management tools to live a heart-healthy life in their community. WCH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and conducts innovative research focused on women and heart disease.

In person groupsvirtual groupswomen only

Visit the Women's Cardiovascular Health Initiative website >>

Location: Toronto, ON
Address: 
76 Grenville Street, Cardiology 4th Floor, Toronto ON M5S 1B2
Contact: Faith Delos-Reyes R.Kin & Debbie Childerhose Reg.PT, Program Coordinators
Tel:
416-323-6400 Ext. 4883
Email: womenshearts@wchospital.ca

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PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND (PEI)

We are unaware of any peer support programs available within this province. If there is a program that you know about, please share it with us here.

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QUÉBEC

We are unaware of any peer support programs available within this province. If there is a program that you know about, please share it with us here

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SASKATCHEWAN

We are unaware of any peer support programs available within this province. If there is a program that you know about, please share it with us here

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YUKON

We are unaware of any peer support programs available within this province. If there is a program that you know about, please share it with us here

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If there is a program that you know about that is not on the list, please share it with us here:

Tell Us About Your Program >> 

Your feedback is valuable to us to maintain the quality of this list, if you have any questions or comments, please contact us. Email cwhhc@ottawaheart.ca.

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