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“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.  In the absence of connection, love and belonging – there is always suffering” – Brené Brown

Walk or Run for Suicide Prevention in Stony Plain

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Published in Stony Plain Reporter/Spruce Grove Examiner, Friday, August 28, 2015. 

1297742099210_ORIGINALHundreds of runners will soon lace up to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention in this year’s Rotary Run for Life.

In its 12th year, Rotary Run for Life will see participants walk five kilometres, run 10 kilometres or a half-marathon on Sept. 13 in Stony Plain. The event starts and finishes at the Heritage Park Pavilion and will take runners and walkers through Stony Plain’s trail network.

Each year the event serves two purposes, said Alyson Brown, chairperson and race director.

First, it raises money for local mental health initiatives and second, it provides an opportunity for people who have lost a loved one to suicide a place to remember, reflect and heal.

“This is an overlooked problem in our community,” Brown said. “And it is a horrible thing for anyone to go through.”

After the run, a ceremony will be held in the Heritage Park Pavilion which will include a Chinese lion dance by Silent River Kung Fu in Stony Plain, a presentation on suicide awareness and prevention, race day prizes and a warm breakfast.

Last year, Rotary Run for Life raised $53,000 in net funds — half of which was given to the Co-ordinated Suicide Prevention Program (CSPP) and half split evenly between the Rotary Clubs of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland After Dark.

Each organization earmarks the funds for local mental health programming and services.

Brown says Rotary Run for Life is a challenging event because it must provide important moments of solemn remembrance while creating an upbeat, welcoming environment where people can feel comfortable sharing their own experiences and stories.

“We want to create an open atmosphere so people can share what they’re going through,” she said.

This year, the event will include participants from two Stony Plain schools who have entered teams into the run.

“We’re trying to get the schools involved, get the kids involved at a young age so they can become more comfortable with this topic and know there are options and channels they can go through if they need help,” Brown said.

Each year, students across Parkland School Division hear from Sharida Csillag, the CSPP co-ordinator, about the programs and services they provide and about Rotary Run for Life. Brown and Csillag hope that teachers and principals will help get the kids involved.

This year, students from Memorial Composite High School and Meridian Heights School are registered to participate.

Rotary Run for Life organizers are still in need of roughly 30 volunteers to monitor the race route, help with the setup and tear down of the event and keep things running smoothly at the start and finish line.

Corporate sponsorships are always welcomed and encouraged.

For more information on registration, volunteer opportunities and ways to donate to the event, visit

For original article click here.

A Community of Healing and Support

By Event, NewsNo Comments

Every year in Canada approximately 4000 people die by suicide. For each one of those deaths, on average 6 people are tragically and traumatically affected for life. These people are often called Survivors of Suicide Loss.

The grieving process for these Survivors of Suicide Loss is complicated and confusing. It is unlike the grieving process surrounding any other death or loss. It can be accompanied by strong and often contradictory emotions including guilt, anger, relief and abandonment. It is a process where both intense love and anger can be directed at the deceased.

Sadly, it is also often accompanied with stigma and isolation. This is something the Coordinated Suicide Prevention Program (CSPP) hopes to reduce. Every year on the weekend before American Thanksgiving, over 250 events are held throughout Canada, the US, and around the world to offer survivors of suicide loss a space to gather together to find comfort and gain understanding as they share stories of healing and hope.

In our community, the CSPP is hosting a special two-day event aimed at building a community of healing and support.SOS 2014 button

On Friday November 21, special facilitators in Yoga for Grief and Music Therapy are being brought in from Edmonton to deliver a special healing session specifically for survivors of suicide loss.

Sandy Ayre, from Yoga for Grief Support, will create a safe and sacred space to begin to process and explore sensations, thoughts, and emotions in both the mind and body. Participants will start to learn empowering techniques to cope with their grief, find compassion for their journey, and honour their loss. (

Sheila Killoran, from Transitions Music Therapy, will use gentle music and guided imagery to facilitate emotional expression and healing that is difficult with words alone. This process of inner exploration and self discovery is an opportunity to integrate mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspect of well being. (

On Saturday November 22, the CSPP is hosting a screening of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 2014 documentary – The Journey. This documentary tells the stories of a diverse group of suicide loss survivors. It’s a powerful film that shows how each survivor is weathering the loss of a loved one, and how they are finding their way back to a life rich in meaning—and even joy.

The event is open to all – survivors and anyone wanting to support them. The event will open with an aboriginal healing ceremony led by a local Elder, Wilson Bearhead, and will include a supported discussion, memorial and catered lunch.

These events are FREE events. Contact the CSPP office to register: 780-963-7007 or

More about CSPP

In addition to working to support Survivors of Suicide Loss, the Coordinated Suicide Prevention Program works in our community to increase awareness about issues surrounding suicide, to eliminate the stigma around talking openly about suicide, and to reduce the number of suicides occurring in our region which currently sits at approximately 1 suicide every 5 days.

Published in the Stony Plain Reporter/Spruce Grove Examiner on November 7, 2014