About Us

Our Story

The Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta (EDSNA) is a non-profit organization and a registered charity dedicated to providing meaningful support to those affected– directly and indirectly– by eating disorders.  Our grassroots organization was founded by Moyra McAllister, whose daughter developed an eating disorder. Moyra’s personal experience inspired a desire to support others. 

EDSNA provides information, guidance, a provincial voice, a community hub and most of all, support. We offer professionally-facilitated support groups in Edmonton, Calgary and online. Thanks to ongoing funding, we are able to offer these groups at a very low cost to the participants and can even waive fees if people are experiencing financial difficulty.

EDSNA promotes awareness about eating disorders by hosting Eating Disorders Awareness Week February 1-7,  giving presentations to various groups throughout the year, and strengthening relationships between community partners and treatment professionals to create a more effective voice for eating disorders.​

EDSNA is located on Treaty 6 territory, and respects the histories, languages, and cultures of First Nations, Metis, Inuit, and all First Peoples of Canada, whose presence continues to enrich Amisk (Alberta), and our home city, Amiskwaciy-wâskahikan or Beaver Hill House (Edmonton).

EDSNA serves all of Alberta, but is primarily located in Edmonton.

Our Vision

No one in Alberta faces an eating disorder alone.

Our Mission

To support and educate Albertans impacted by eating disorders.

Who do we serve? 

We serve individuals dealing directly with an eating disorder, family and loved ones of those dealing directly with an eating disorder, professionals working in the field of eating disorders, and the general public.

General Principles

We are client centered, professionally-facilitated, with programs tailored to client needs and respectful of individual diversity. There is not one cause for eating disorders, therefore there is not one solution that will be right for everyone. EDSNA is a support network – not a treatment organization.

Funding

We are grateful for generous financial support from:

  • Alberta Health, Addictions and Mental Health Branch
  • Government of Alberta Community Initiatives Program
  • Edmonton Community Foundation
  • You!

Funding, donations, and proceeds allow us to continue to offer support and information to the eating disorder community.

Who are our Facilitators?

Our facilitators are all health professionals with a background in eating disorders. They are registered psychologists, registered dieticians, psychiatric nurses, registered social workers and occupational therapists. We hire people who have the skills to guide groups effectively, answer questions knowledgeably and empower people to take ownership of their own journey to recovery. We select professionals who are aligned with our philosophy that everyone in the family is impacted by eating disorders, who are non-judgmental and can provide a safe space for everyone to participate.

Meet the Board

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Amanda Huxley

Board President

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Amanda is a lawyer with the Alberta Energy Regulator. She is also a yoga and meditation instructor and avid volunteer. Amanda loves to help out wherever and however she can and was a volunteer with EDNSA before joining the Board. Having lived experience, she is very conscious of the impacts eating disorders have on those who face them as well as their loved ones. Amanda strongly believes and supports EDSNA’s vision that no one should face an eating disorder alone and is passionate about tackling the stigma associated with eating disorders. In her spare time, she enjoys golfing, travelling, and spending time with her friends and family.

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Courtney Rippin Kaufman

Vice President

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Courtney’s professional experience includes program delivery and policy development in not-for- profit and government settings. She brings experience in implementing priority initiatives, leading cross functional teams, and participating in IT development projects as a certified Product Owner. She has a BA in General Studies from the University of Calgary and an MBA in Community Economic Development from Cape Breton University.
Courtney has lived experience with an eating disorder and recognizes that when one member of the family is living with an eating disorder, it impacts the entire family. She is passionate about EDSNA’s mission and vision and hopes that her skills will assist the organization to achieve its goals.
In her spare time, Courtney enjoys spending time with her husband and their cat, exploring Edmonton’s river valley, and all kinds of paper crafts.
EDSNA Treasurer Joe Custodio

Joe Custodio

Treasurer

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Joe is a CPA and currently works as a Finance Manager for Cantiro. His professional experience includes education and public accounting with specialization in fast-growing private companies and not-for-profit organizations. Joe understands the serious mental, physical, and social consequences caused by eating disorders, and strongly believes that no one should suffer with it alone. In a quest to challenge our society’s stigma and raise awareness on eating disorders, Joe aims to contribute by providing his financial expertise and insight to the organization. In his spare time, Joe enjoys traveling, learning about new cultures, and playing chess.

Moyra McAllister

Founder & Director at Large

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Moyra practiced as a physical therapist and a clinic director for nearly 30 years. She currently works as the Complaints Director for Physiotherapy Alberta. Finding solutions to problems is what Moyra has always done. When her daughter became ill with an eating disorder, she discovered that finding support, treatment options and guidance for her daughter and herself was very difficult. There was so much information and yet no concrete solutions or help. As she began to talk to other families who were affected by eating disorders she found that her family’s story was not unique – the feelings of isolation, panic, fear and desperation were nearly identical between families. She decided to create a solution for this problem. EDSNA, the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta is the result.

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David Wedge

Director at Large

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John Woulfe

Director at Large

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Bio to come!

Meet the Staff

Lauren Berlinguette

Executive Director

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Lauren is grateful for the opportunity to become more involved with the organization since she began volunteering Fall 2017. Having had her own personal experiences with eating disorders, she recognizes the importance of the work EDSNA is doing, and is excited to be involved in a greater capacity.

Lauren is a MacEwan University graduate, having completed her undergraduate degree with a major in Psychology and a focus on Eating Disorders. Increasing awareness of Eating Disorders in diverse populations, including late onset disorders, diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, and those affecting the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, is something she is especially passionate about.

Lauren loves cooking, gardening, and exploring the world.

Laura James

Director of Awareness & Outreach

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Laura began with EDSNA in January 2024 and is passionate about mental health support and education in Alberta. A graduate of Grant MacEwan University, she has worked in communications and public relations for the last 16 years and enjoys helping non-profit organizations advance their missions through creative and strategic advocacy.

As Director of Awareness and Outreach, she is excited to help EDSNA continue to break down the stigma around eating disorders, increase awareness, and promote resources available to individuals living with an eating disorder, as well as their caregivers. 

Laura enjoys spending time with her family and two dogs as well as running, biking, being outdoors and hanging out with friends.

Alisha Coyston

Director of Programming

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Bio to come!

Jessica Nelson

Volunteer Coordinator

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Jessica began with EDSNA in October 2020. Her passion to support others stems from her personal experience with eating disorders and mental health. Through the volunteer coordinator role, she hopes to be able to connect with like-minded individuals who would like to make a positive difference and provide opportunities to do so.
Aside from being the volunteer coordinator for EDSNA, Jessica is also an active volunteer with three other organizations in which she plays different leadership roles. She is a graduate of the NAIT Disaster and Emergency Management program and is currently supporting provincial operations in Emergency Management on a full-time basis. Additionally, Jessica is pursuing the University of Alberta’s collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (2nd year) on the Red Deer College campus, with hopes of becoming a Nurse Practitioner or Doctor. Aside from her busy schedule, she loves doing yoga, horseback riding/show jumping, running her two small businesses, and anything else creative!

Hannah Brown

Social Media Assistant

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Hannah started volunteering with EDSNA in 2015 at the Edmonton Woman’s Show. Since then she has volunteered at many other shows, events, and Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Having lived experience with an eating disorder herself, Hannah hopes to educate and reduce the stigma surrounding eating disorders and mental health. Hannah is committed in both her career and personal life to live by EDSNA’s vision that no one should have to face an eating disorder alone. In her free time, Hannah loves writing poetry, spending time outdoors, and showing off photos of her dog Bella.

Rachel Papulkas

Newsletter Contributor

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Frequently Asked Questions

How old is EDSNA?

EDSNA was officially formed in April 2014. It began offering professionally-facilitated support groups in October 2014.

Who runs EDSNA?

EDSNA is run by a volunteer Board of Directors. The Executive Director, Public Awareness Coordinator, Administrative Assistant, and several volunteers manage all day-to-day operations, plan seasonal programming, build infrastructure and systems, lead awareness activities, manage public relations, and provide insight regarding long-term strategic planning and fundraising.

Where is EDSNA’s office located?

EDSNA is located in Edmonton, within the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit. The address is EDSNA, 12122 68 Street, Edmonton, AB, T5B 1R1.

How can I become more involved with EDSNA?

There are a number of ways you can get involved:

You can also donate or help spread the word by sharing our website with others. Contact us at info@edsna.ca to discuss how you would like to work with us.

Who are your facilitators and what are their credentials?

Our facilitators are all health professionals with a background in eating disorders. They are registered psychologists, registered dieticians, psychiatric nurses, registered social workers and occupational therapists. We hire people who have the skills to guide groups effectively, answer questions knowledgeably and empower people to take ownership of their own journey to recovery. We select professionals who are aligned with our philosophy that everyone in the family is impacted by eating disorders, who are non-judgmental and can provide a safe space for everyone to participate. You can learn more about our facilitators here.

Do you offer treatment? Is a doctor’s referral necessary?

No. We do not offer treatment or therapy; we offer support. No referral is required. If you feel you are affected by an eating disorder and could use some support, our door is open. You don’t need to reveal anything about your illness as part of the registration process. Our groups are confidential and whatever you share in the group will not be revealed. We ask that all group participants read and agree to our Group Guidelines.

What is the difference between support groups, group therapy, and treatment?

Great question! Here’s a page to explain this, as a lot of people are confused about the difference. Again, EDSNA offers professionally-facilitated support groups, not group therapy or treatment. We respect the work of other professionals and recognize that because eating disorders are so complex, families often need the help of many to achieve recovery.

Why don’t you offer more separate support groups for people with different types of eating disorders?

Historically, we have found that individuals seeking support are able to learn from one another; even though their individual illnesses may manifest differently, the feelings are very similar. That said, EDSNA would like to keep programming relevant to the needs of group participants; we have begun to offer some specific-symptom, and specific-demographic, support groups. If you have feedback about the type of group you would find most helpful, please feel free to send us an emailto info@edsna.ca.

Why do you charge a participant fee if you receive funding to offer groups?

The generous funding we receive through Alberta Health, Addictions and Mental Health Branch, as well as Edmonton Community Foundation, doesn’t cover all the expenses associated with providing the support groups. As well, we feel a small participant fee helps to cement commitment to attending the group. It is also a recognition of the highly skilled expertise of our facilitators. If the fee is a barrier to participation, it can be waived by emailing info@EDSNA.ca.

Hmmm, I don’t think that answers my question

Sorry about that! Your question may not have been covered here but we do want to answer it. Feel free to email info@EDSNA.ca and we will get back to you.