Dr. Barbara Harris of Vancouver is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Mental Health category

DR. BARBARA HARRIS NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

Photo credit: Nick Procaylo/PNG
Photo credit: Nick Procaylo/PNG

Her father, a residential school survivor, left her home months before Barbara was born. Also, at just under two years old, her sister died in a tragic accident, and she was separated from her family for a few months, until her mother was able to care for her and her brother again. During her early school years she was bullied, and she was also threatened and sexually abused for 4 years. At age 13, she ran away from home, to Vancouver, where she just tried to survive. Two years later she was lured to the United States where the attempt was made to force her into the sex trade, although she managed to get a job as a stripper. She was beaten daily except when she got paid, but after about five weeks, another stripper helped her to escape, and she returned to Vancouver.

Back in Vancouver and completely traumatized, she became deeply depressed and suicidal, and got into heroin which provided relief from the PTSD. After a year, she found herself on the floor of a condemned house, praying to die. But she lived, quitting cold turkey, though continuing to dull her trauma with alcohol, working in the entertainment business until age 28.

Back pain ended her career as a dancer; and things went down hill again; now she got into cocaine. “Again, I wanted to die,” she remembers; “I just didn’t have the nerve to kill myself.” Instead, she attended her first 12-step meeting in January, 1986. Within a week, no more liquor or drugs: she’s been clean and sober ever since.

She battled serious mental illness for the first 10 years of her sobriety but she refused to take medications. After nine years sober and with only grade 8 education, she finally mustered up the courage to return to school, first to Langara College, where she made the Dean’s List, then to UBC for Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Social Work, graduating in 2000. She also became a member of the Golden Key National Honour Society for academic excellence at UBC.

After graduating with her MSW, She began doing trauma therapy at an agency in the DTES and also began working in academia, as a lecturer and program developer/coordinator. In 2009, she obtained her PhD. from SFU, and at that time, opened a full-time private practice. Her Counseling practice focuses on trauma recovery and residential school survivors and their families.

She has published scores of academic articles, presented her research at numerous academic conferences, has held over 20 volunteer positions in a self help program, has served on the board of Vancouver Recovery Club, and was recently elected to the board of EMDR Canada.

On a personal note, she met her biological father for the first time in 1996 and cared for him until he died in 2000.

Barbara Harris will receive her award at The Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca


Global News

Randene Neill interviews Dr. Barbara Harris – click to view on Global News website>

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Dr. Barbara Harris – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Dr. Barbara Harris – click to view on News1130 website>

Christy Campbell of North Vancouver is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Physical Rehabilitation category.

CHRISTY CAMPBELL NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

christy-campbell
Photo credit: Mark van Manen /PNG

Christy Campbell, 41, of North Vancouver is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Physical Rehabilitation category.

Christy had it all: active healthy life; loving partner, rewarding career, happy home, and great friends. Then, in December, 2005, at the age of 31, she was devastated by a stroke. Unable to walk or talk or read, Christy’s vocabulary was wiped out. She could not ask for help, type an email or say her own name. She lost every word but one and learned a new word “aphasia.” Aphasia is a communication disorder best described as being dropped into an alien land where you can’t speak the language and don’t understand a single letter of the alphabet.

Give up? Not a chance. The one word she had was “yes.” Christy was alive and with the support of her husband and many friends and family took her life in an unexpected direction. At the time of her stroke, beyond short-term therapy BC’s medical system had very limited resources for people Christy age with her conditions, this despite the fact that new aphasia cases arise in Canada at about the same rate as cases of breast cancer.

Courageously, Christy decided that she would improve the resources available to brain injury survivors in BC. Six months after her stroke she could say 12 words. Intellect intact, she spent countless hours learning to dress and write with her left hand, learning to walk, learning to drive and learning to read again. She’d lost her career but not her will to contribute; she wants people with aphasia to have the treatment, resources and support they need.

In the years since her stroke, her vocabulary and confidence grew and she continues to overcome the isolation aphasia imposes. Christy inspired and co-founded the annual Sea-to-Sky Aphasia Camp, now entering its seventh year. She established UBC’s Campbell-Purves Aphasia Education Fund and offers her time and energy as a volunteer to Providence Health Care, Columbia Speech and Language Services, the Stroke Recovery Association of BC and other organizations far and wide. She’s now a mother of an active four-year old who loves listening to her read bedtime stories.
Christy will receive her award at The Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca


Global News

Sonia Deol interviews Christy Campbell – watch live on Global News Hour at 6pm May 2nd

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Christy Campbell – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Christy Campbell – click to view on News1130 website>

 

Jemal Damtawe of Coquitlam, is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Addiction category.

JEMAL DAMTAWE NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

Jemal-Damtawe-sm
Photo credit: Jason Payne/PNG

At age 15 in war-torn Ethiopia, he became a child soldier – at the point of a gun. His first escape, stowed away on a cargo ship, left him swimming for his life with other boys, two of whom drowned. In 1986, still a teenager, he tried again, reaching Canada in 1989, getting asylum, starting a restaurant in Montreal, getting married, having a daughter.

But he couldn’t shake his trauma, undiagnosed PTSD. He self-medicated with drugs and alcohol, left his family, moved to Portland, OR, joined a gang and became a drug dealer.

The threat of death led him back to Canada – Vancouver – in 2005. The overdose death of a friend led him to Union Gospel Mission. Sheer will, recovery programs and the caring support of others led him to quit drugs and get sober. He confronted his childhood trauma and vowed to help others kick the habit as he had. He became Reverend Jemal in June 2011.

On Christmas Day, 2015 Jemal Damtawe celebrated 10 years of sobriety. He began working as a volunteer swamper at the UGM Thrift Store and is now a full-time Outreach Worker and Preacher at UGM. He rescues those struggling with addiction and homelessness in the Downtown East Side. He is mentor to dozens of men who have walked on the road away from addiction and back toward self-respect.

Jemal has married again, has a three year-old son, and has joyfully reconnected with his 23-year old daughter.

Jemal will receive his award at The Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca 


Global News Hour

Sonia Deol in-depth interview with Jemal Damtawe – click to view on Global News BC website>

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Jemal Damtawe – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Jemal Damtawe – click to view on News1130 website>

 

Courage Partnership – welcome to our newest sponsor

I wanted to do my part and make a small difference

by Duncan Robinson

Wimbleton LogoCourage as the name implies is taking your life, and having the dream or the Courage to imagine getting through something so difficult, and radically making an impact on your life. By making a radical impact in your life, the irony is your impacting many others around you.

I saw this demonstrated last year at the Courage Awards, from those at our table to those who attended the event, how each speech impacted me, and those close to me, realizing how fortunate we are, in our day to day lives. I wanted to do my part and make a small difference, knowing that small adds up to significance if we all participate at some level. I welcomed the opportunity to become a gold sponsor of this event.

Duncan Robinson
Wimbleton Financial Services, (impacting others through Strategic Planning)….


We are pleased to welcome Wimbleton Financial as a new Gold Presenting partner of The Courage To Come Back Awards in 2016. Duncan Robinson will be presenting one of the six awards on May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West.

Meredith Graham of New Westminster is The Courage To Come Back Award Recipient in the Social Adversity category

MEREDITH GRAHAM NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

by Gerald Haslam

Photo credit: Richard Lam/PNG

Meredith Graham, 27, of New Westminster, is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Social Adversity category.

Meredith’s childhood was influenced by her parents’ experiences of poverty, food scarcity, violence, periods of mental illness, and substance use. Meredith – from age eight on – was forced into the role of parent.

She was diagnosed with depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at 13, bi-polar disorder at 18 and borderline personality disorder at 26. She ran away from home as a teen, couch-surfing with friends. In high school she used coping strategies that further put her health at risk, such as disordered eating.

At the point where she could have given up, or worse, Meredith was embraced by people who cared: teachers and vice-principals at Princess Margaret Secondary School in Surrey. At 15, she now had a safe place to live with no more three-hour daily bus rides. She had medications, individual and group counselling, with support from psychologists, social workers, and, later, group home workers, women from her church, and landlords.

Overcoming setbacks, she graduated from high school (and sang the national anthem at the convocation), completed the Performing Arts program at Capilano University, graduated with a diploma in Child and Youth Care Counselling from Douglas College and is now a student in the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program.

She is a youth and family development worker at St. Leonard’s Youth and Family Services in Burnaby, and has also made significant volunteer contributions in the community. She initiated Peer Health Educators at Douglas College to teach students about improving mental health and was active in the Douglas College Miles for Mental Health Run/Walk, has contributed training materials for the education of social workers and serves on two volunteer boards for the Vancouver Foundation. She’s open about her history, giving interviews, speeches, and sharing her poetry to focus attention on the issues illustrated by her own life and the need for resources to help others.

Meredith Graham will receive her award at The  Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca


Global News

Randene Neill interviews Meredith Graham – click to view on Global News website>

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Meredith Graham – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Meredith Graham – click to view on News1130 website>