Thursday, 27 July 2017 05:35

Theo Fleury gives voice to survivors of childhood abuse during Victor Walk

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Theo Fleury (at left) speaks to  Nathan Wiebe, the executive director of the Swift Current Community Youth Initiative, at the rally on Market Square, July 19. Theo Fleury (at left) speaks to Nathan Wiebe, the executive director of the Swift Current Community Youth Initiative, at the rally on Market Square, July 19.

Theo Fleury and the members of the Victor Walk team were in Swift Current on July 19 during the 2017 Victor Walk tour to five communities in Saskatchewan  to raise awareness about the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.

Local residents participated in an afternoon walk along the Chinook Parkway and a rally on Market Square. In the evening there was a free screening at the Lyric Theatre of the documentary “Victor Walk” about Fleury's inaugural 10-day walk from Toronto to Ottawa in 2013.
Fleury spoke about his own journey as a trauma survivor and his dedication to the work of the Breaking Free Foundation at the rally on Market Square.
“I reached out and I asked for help and somebody was there to grab my hand and give me the help that I needed, provide that safe place to start the journey,” he said. “Then I started to meet all kinds of people who had similar stories to myself and I started to learn and I started to heal. I became less angry and I became humble and I learned about compassion.”
He emphasized the importance of compassion as an essential part of any discussion about trauma and healing.
“Compassion to me is probably the greatest thing that’s come out of all this,” he said. “I don’t judge anymore. I just want to help, that’s it, and the more people I help, the more I heal myself. It’s that simple. So if you’re going through a rough time in your life, if you’re going through a rough patch, volunteer, go help people, because I guarantee you by the end of that experience you’re not going to feel crappy anymore. You’re going to feel good inside.”
The other speakers at the rally were Swift Current Mayor Denis Perrault and Nathan Wiebe, the executive director of the Swift Current Community Youth Initiative at The Center. Both referred to the benefits of the Safe Places – Youth Certified initiative that has been implemented in Swift Current since last year.
“We’ve made it available to our volunteers and different people that support The Center to get involved in taking the Safe Places initiative and just to get more knowledge on how to deal with youth and how to converse with youth that have been through different traumas and sexual assault and different assaults within their lives,” Wiebe said. “So we’re going to continue to do that and we’re going to continue to try and make an impact through The Center, through the volunteers and through our staff.”
Perrault noted that 1,000 people have already been certified during the initial 17 months of the Safe Place program.
“The reason why Safe Places is so important to our community is because we never want to see what happened in the past, happen again,” he said. “We want our children to be safe here in Swift Current and of course across Saskatchewan.”
According to Fleury it is still very difficult for survivors of abuse and trauma to find help and support.
“Either the mental health system is completely overrun and there’s just line-ups for months on end, if you’re looking for help, or if people want to get into treatment centres, they’re overrun,” he said after the rally.
The Breaking Free Foundation will therefore continue its efforts to raise awareness and to connect people who have experienced trauma to resources and support.
“We’ll do our best to provide as many services as we can moving forward,” he said.
He believes local efforts such as the Safe Places initiative in Swift Current can make a difference to create that awareness and support.
“The more groups, the more services that we can create and provide are only going to lessen the amount of suffering that happens after trauma happens to somebody,” he said.

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Matthew Liebenberg


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