It was a soggy, gloomy and sad day. It felt as if the weather deliberately set the tone for the annual Lifting the Silence Memorial Walk on September 10th, 2018. It was the perfect setting for remembering those whose lives were tragically lost to suicide.
The brave organizers and volunteers were not discouraged by the weather. They quickly got to work, setting up tables, chairs and technical support for the event on the stage in Victoria Park. Soon, the place was ready with a Survival Photo Exhibit ready to be viewed, an activity table to paint a rock, a Reforest London table to take a seedling to plan in honour of a loved one, a Mission Services table with information, a Why We March LGBT table to share colouring books and inspirational quotes and, refreshment provided with the help of Metro Stores to be enjoyed. With all tables set and the crowd gathered, the event began.
MCs Cassandra Taylor and Sunday Ajak announced the speakers and artists who participated. First, the Nokee Kwe Positive Drum group provided an Indigenous drumming and singing ceremony.
Soon after, the silent walk began to remembered those whose lives were tragically cut short by suicide. Some people shed tears and others made their way through the park silently, contemplating with heavy hearts.
After the walk, MPP Peggy Sattler and MPP Terence Kernaghan gave speeches about the importance of mental health. They both received an applause when they called on the Provincial Government to provide more support for mental health initiatives.
Dennise Mincinnick shared a heartfelt personal story about loss, after which the names of those who were lost to suicide were read out loud. The artist Tyler shared a poem, Cheryl Wituik an insightful reading and, M. J. Mandoki her fictional story called “The Dance of the Fairies”.
The event ended with songs by the very talented duo of Bernie Gilmore and Briana Kennedy. The music brought tears to some and warmed the heart of many gathered in the cold, chilly evening.
The Mcs delivered the closing remarks thanking all organizations who made this event possible, such as My Sister’s Place for donating tables and RBC for their continuing support.
The event was very successful. People who lost loved ones to suicide walked away knowing that their beloved family members and friends have been remembered and that they will forever remain in the hearts of the community.
M. J. Mandoki