© Mitch Ward - Metro Halifax
Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes speaks at the Let's Keep Talking Event put on by the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia on Tuesday night.
Canadian Olympic hero talks mental health in Halifax
A wind-burnt Clara Hughes rode into Halifax from Truro on Tuesday – a 106 kilometre jaunt she said was no easy feat thanks to the strong breeze she faced as part of Clara’s Big Ride.
Hughes, six-time Canadian Olympic speed-skating and cycling medalist, is biking a total of 12,000 kilometres across Canada, stopping into 95 communities over a period of 110 days to raise awareness for mental illness.
Hughes struggled with depression as a young athlete and feels that she’s very lucky to have had the support she needed, but she feels she’s an exception to the rule.
“Everybody around me rallied to bring me back, to make me stronger to have me win again for my country,” Hughes said in the Spatz Theatre at Citadel High School on Tuesday night.
“I don’t think that’s the case for the woman that works at the hospital. … I know it’s not the case because people tell me their stories day in and day out.”
At the event presented by the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, Hughes encouraged people to become part of the conversation and help end stigma around mental illness.
“As long as we put one foot in front of the other and never give up, I think we’re kind of going somewhere right now,” she said.
The event also included live art, dancing, poetry, and music.
Artist Ingrid Cottenden showcased her work while highlighting the value of local art project Outsider Insight, which is organized by, created by, and targeted towards artists who are mental health consumers.
Gavin Quinn, project coordinator for Outsider Insight, was in the audience to support Cottenden.
Quinn said he’s been living with mental illness for over 10 years, and this project has given him a lot of direction and purpose.
“Over the last six months, I’ve been more healthy than I’ve ever been,” he said.a