News

Yes, there were some laughs at last week’s meetup. Even some serious cursing, all of which would have made for eye-catching headlines. However, the conversation all boiled down to one big topic—connection.

Our conversation started on the topic of bias. How does bias play out in your life? What we learned, is that there are constant opportunities to educate people and engage in a conversation about why they feel a certain way or say something.

This quickly moulded into the topic of first-responders and we all identified a strong need to fix an ailing system. First-responders need to be trauma-informed, but they themselves need better support in dealing with their own traumas. One big theme is that therapy doesn’t fit into a box. What works for one person might not work well for others, and as professionals in the mental health field, many identified that this needs to change.

One key message that always comes back: helping is healing. One of our veterans has turned to help other veterans at the Veterans Food Bank and with peer-to-peer counselling of sorts. He’s become a mentor and a support person for others. A couple of other members of our group are now also helping him — the cycle continues!

And SO many great quotes from our community members on connection, so I won’t rewrite them:

” Connection is key to healing.”

“Bias breaks connection but connecting can break bias.”

“We need to stand strong in our boundaries.”

The weight of the world is heavy when we think about how far we still have to go. Instead, we suggested that we can focus on the little things we can do to make a big difference in the overall picture. Planting the seed for the future.

“You may not see the change, but you are making a change.”

“Things don’t change, we change.” – Theo Fleury

UPCOMING EVENTS

Meetup | Rafter U7 Ranch

March 23 @ 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Our monthly meet-ups in Calgary, Alberta are one of our most successful programs and one that we are very proud of. Members of the BFF team lead a group conversation about trauma and healing. Participate actively or simply as a listener, as these are safe spaces to connect with BFF and the greater trauma and healing community. Hosted by Heard Wellness and Equine Enrichment at Rafter U7 Ranch near Carstairs. Email shandra@breakingfreefoundation.ca for directions.

Art Fundraiser for Breaking Free Foundation (hosted by Amber Craig)

April 4th at 7pm

On April 4th, join us as The Hemingway Room at The Commons Calgary is transformed into a chic art gallery. Some of Calgary’s most talented artists have stepped up to help us put on a night that will drive incredible conversations and much-needed funds. 

At the event, you’ll be able to bid on BEAUTIFUL art — all inspired by trauma or PTSD. The stories behind these incredible works of art will flood you with emotion. Not to mention, these are breathtaking pieces that anyone would want to have in their homes! In addition to the silent art auction, the room will feature poetry written by members of our community. 

To get people in the door, this is a pay what you can event.

INTERESTED IN DONATING ART? Email: amber@breakingfreefoundation.ca

Our conversations during our free monthly meet-ups take us in a variety of directions, and in order to ensure we circle back for reference, we post these resource blogs the day (or two) following a meet-up. The intent is to provide a roundup of resources or references from the conversation that night.

Last week, we had some new faces and some inspiring regulars. It was a night of many gifts and many lessons for us all, but there were some recurring themes to make note of.

ANNIVERSARY

We were wonderfully reminded that this month marks two years that we have been running our BFF Meet-up program! We want to sincerely thank everyone who has become part of our community and helped us make this our most successful program to date. Also, a huge thank you to The Commons for being amazing supporters and donating their space to us each month.

THEMES

  • Compassion and community: following the Humboldt tragedy that has struck so many, we discussed many takeaways that could be considered silver linings in this trauma. A recurring thought was that in the face of awful tragedy, the entire world learned how to love one another. This has been an amazing example of how a community can come together and the simple act of holding space and showing compassion can make all the difference.
  • Try everything: one of the great reminders we get from meet-ups is that there are a lot of things that can help you in your healing process, but not one thing will work for everyone, but we encourage you to try things until you find what works for you.
  • Support people need support too: a great point brought up by a therapist in the room, was that in professions who are there to support trauma survivors (therapists, doctors, first-responders, etc.) sometimes the importance of self-care doesn’t get the priority it deserves. Remember, doing your own work is just as important as helping other people do theirs.
  • Trauma comes in all forms: a powerful moment in our meet-up resulted from the sharing of a story about bullying. It was an important moment for many reasons, but it was a reminder and reflection for all of us that trauma comes in all forms. Our organization was born as a result of the Victor Walk and childhood sexual trauma, but our mandate has always been to support people dealing with all kinds of trauma. Our brains can view trauma as many different things: physical pain, disease, divorce, failing a test, fighting with our parents, abuse, war, bullying—the list is endless.

IDEAS & INSPIRATION

  • Sweat lodge: spirituality is always a theme that gets brought up at our meet-ups but many people advocated for the success they have had in sweat lodges. We would encourage you to do some research on this and explore some avenues to take part in one if it’s something that interests you. Many members of our team have taken part in sweats, and it is always a powerful experience.

REFERENCES

  • Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA): We were so honoured to be joined by members of BACA in Calgary. If you’re unfamiliar with the amazing work BACA does for children, here’s a bit about them:

Bikers Against Child Abuse, Inc. (B.A.C.A.) exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. We exist as a body of Bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation, and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.

OUR MEET-UP STRUCTURE

Because our meet-ups are growing each month (which we are so grateful for), we now have the need to provide more structure to these meetings so everyone gets more out of them. Last night we introduced a few rules and ideas for the meetings:

  • Please no cross-talk. We want to be respectful of people’s stories and their time, so please allow others to finish their piece, before adding on.
  • We encourage participants and members of our community to reach out to new joiners and offer to support them or be a mentor of sorts. This type of thing is a successful structure in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) with their ‘sponsor program’.
  • As BFF members, we are at the meetings to facilitate a safe conversation, but a reminder that we are not therapists.
  • If you need someone to talk to between meetings, please reach out to the Calgary Distress Centre or call their 24-hour line at 403-266-HELP.

UPCOMING FUNDRAISER

We are in a dire position. Funds are extremely low and as a result, we have a long waiting list for our Therapy Grant program. Many Albertans are reaching out, in desperation with their PTSD and mental health symptoms, and BFF is left in the saddest of positions — unable to help.

On Saturday, May 5, Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino is the host venue for the Breaking Free Foundation’s Celebrity Bounty Poker Tournament.  Play for a chance to bet against celebrity players.  In addition to cash payouts, prize bounties will be placed on all celebrity players.  Sign up today, and help raise some money for a worthwhile cause!

10 am to noon | Celebrity Meet & Greet
2 – 8:30 pm | Poker Tournament
9:00 pm | Concert with Theo Fleury and the Death Valley Rebels
~ Silent Auction runs from 10 am to 6 pm ~

More information and registration is online here.