Volunteer advocates are at the heart of the Canadian Diabetes Association’s (CDA’s) efforts to bring about positive change.

They represent the voice of the 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes and speak for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Advocates help raise the awareness of diabetes and the burden of living with the disease by sharing their personal stories, participating in CDA advocacy campaigns and events, developing relationships with elected officials in their ridings, and promoting the CDA’s federal, provincial and territorial public policy recommendations.

Position overview

Our advocates are from diverse backgrounds and have varying levels of advocacy experience. Many of our advocates live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes or have close friends or family members living with the disease. Some are from communities with high rates of diabetes, where they see many of their neighbours struggling to afford the healthy foods, medications and supports needed to manage their disease. Others are doctors, nurses or pharmacists who witness the devastating impact of diabetes-related complications on their patients.

No matter the motivation or background, all CDA advocates share a passion for advocacy, a belief in their power to make a difference, and a commitment to improving the lives of people with diabetes.

Key responsibilities

  • Participate in CDA advocacy training
  • Raise awareness of diabetes and the CDA within local community
  • Participate in CDA advocacy campaigns and actively promote key public policy and advocacy priorities, initiatives and messages using new and traditional methods of advocacy such as social media, personal networks, letter writing, meetings with elected officials and other key stakeholders, community events, local media, etc.
  • Attend CDA advocacy events and campaign launches
  • Share personal diabetes story to help illustrate some of the challenges faced by people living with diabetes and their families and caregivers
  • Speak with media to share personal story when requested by the CDA

As an advocate, you will receive ongoing training and public policy updates and will be guided and supported in your work by volunteer leads and CDA team members.

Desired attributes and skills

  • Strong interpersonal and communications skills
  • Independent
  • Self-motivated
  • Knowledge of diabetes and the CDA, or a willingness to learn
  • Comfortable with using social media, or a willingness to learn
  • Positive attitude, enthusiasm and a desire to affect positive change for people living with diabetes

Time commitment

Diabetes advocacy is an ongoing activity. The time commitment we ask of advocates varies during periods of elections, campaigns and as you develop relationships with elected officials in your ridings and through social media.

The weeks prior to and immediately following federal and provincial elections are the busiest times for CDA advocates. During elections, we will engage advocates in various training activities (in-person and online) as part of our election strategy. Advocates should always be ready for action when an election in their province or a federal election is called.

We also host annual provincial MLA/MPP/MHA events, which are opportunities for advocates to speak with their elected representatives and to present CDA public policy recommendations. Oftentimes, these lobby events take place during Diabetes Awareness Month (November) or coincide with other diabetes-related activities (e.g. launch of the Diabetes Charter for Canada). Advocates will always be notified weeks in advance of these events.

Outside of election periods and formal MLA/MPP/MHA events and activities, most formal activity is episodic. We are always trying to get media attention on diabetes topics and we appreciate when advocates can be flexible and ready to respond when invited to share their diabetes story with the media. This is a key role for advocates, but it is difficult to know when and how often media requests will be made.

Similarly, personal stories about the burden of living with diabetes are an essential part of our many public awareness campaigns. During these campaigns, advocates are encouraged to share their stories in person, on our website or through social media so public awareness is heightened and policymakers can understand why our recommendations are so important to Canadians living with diabetes.

Application, selection and training

  • Completed volunteer application form
  • Interview
  • Reference check
  • General orientation to the CDA
  • Review of online training tools
  • Discussion with an advocacy staff member
  • Advocacy training webinar
  • In-person training when available
  • Updates and calls to action by email

To apply to be an advocate, email advocacy@diabetes.ca