Clara welcomed to Arnprior June 30: Mental Health & Addictions stigma-free zone for Renfrew County launched – a Canadian first!
On Day 109 of her 110-ride, Clara arrived in Arnprior flanked by Governor General David Johnston and Mayor David Reid. An adoring crowd of about 3,000 people lined the streets and filled Robert Simpson Park, overlooking the Ottawa River.
Clara spoke passionately about ending the stigma associated with mental health. She implored everyone to help stop the silent suffering of those too afraid to speak up by changing attitudes toward mental health. Governor General David Johnston called Clara’s ride “…epic – a moment we will never forget.”
Clara received the prestigious Meritorious Service Cross from the Governor General. This decoration recognizes those who have performed an exceptional deed or activity that brought honour to Canada.
Arnprior welcomed Canadian Council on Social Development President & CEO Peggy Taillon to the podium. Peggy spoke of the long path of suffering by those with mental health & addictions issues she has seen over the past 30 years. “People were stripped of their rights, their dignity, their very personhood,” said Peggy. “We have seen improvements, but we have a long way to go.”
“Stigma is fed by fear and fear leads to silence. Clara has helped Canadians across the country break that silence and understand just how common these issues are in Canada,” said Peggy. “She has shown us how the stigma surrounding mental health issues impedes recovery. That’s why I am so proud to be working with the mental health and addictions professionals in Renfrew County. They want to change that.”
Lise Laframboise, Renfrew County’s Executive Director of Pathways Alcohol and Drug Treatment Services, together with Mireille Delorme, Director of Mental Health Services for Renfrew County took the podium before a crowd estimated at 3,000.
“We want to tell you about a dream we have – a vision for Renfrew County,” said Lise. “We support Clara’s quest for a stigma-free Canada and to make it real, we have to act locally. Today, we are launching our vision to make Renfrew County a Stigma-Free Zone for Mental Health and Addictions!” added Mireille.
Mireille explained that this means being supportive of people who are struggling to recover, putting an end to the fear, helping if you can and giving everyone a chance to become all that they can be. It also means recognizing the strength and courage it takes to overcome addictions and mental illness.
Mireille and Lise invited Clara, the Governor General and the Mayor to be the first to pledge their commitment by signing a large map of Renfrew County titled, “My Renfrew County: A Stigma-free Zone for Mental Health & Addictions.” They invited members of the audience to do the same at the event or online (http://www.renfrewcountyaddictiontreatment.ca/stigmafree_zone.htm )
“This is a first in Canada,” said Peggy. “And it is truly a beginning. Thank you for leading, Renfrew County!”
The Renfrew County Mental Health & Addictions leaders who launched the stigma-free zone:
L to R: Lise Laframboise, Executive Director, Pathways Alcohol and Drug Treatment Services; Kim McLeod, Service Director, Addictions Treatment Service; Tom Carroll, Executive Director, MacKay Manor Addiction Treatment System; Robert Wynja, Renfrew County Mental Health Services; Mireille Delorme, Director, Renfrew County Mental Health Services.
CTV’s W5 profiled the stories of Peggy Taillon and Clara Hughes in March 2014, coinciding with International Women’s Day. The Love of a Child tells of Peggy’s quest to adopt her son in Kenya. Clara’s Big Ride shows how our Olympic Champion came to know the pain of mental health issues leading to her big ride. The two have been in touch since the W5 segment. Peggy and Clara met for the first time in Arnprior, Ontario on June 30th.
Peggy Taillon is the President and CEO of the Canadian Council on Social Development.
The CCSD is a not-for-profit organization that partners and collaborates with all sectors (not-for-profit, philanthropic, government and business) and communities to advance solutions to today’s toughest social challenges. As a neutral, non-partisan, non-governmental and independent organization, the CCSD believes challenges can be solved through a deliberative approach that includes all partners, ensuring the end user is part of framing the issues and the solutions. Simply put, society designed the problem – whether inequality, homelessness, discrimination, climate change, to name a few – but we also have the power to design the solution
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