News

Local non-profit, The Breaking Free Foundation (BFF) is hosting their third annual golf tournament fundraiser, in support of their initiatives, including a Therapy Grant Program, which provides free trauma therapy to Albertans suffering from PTSD, mental health issues and the lingering effects of trauma.

Calgary Flames legend Theo Fleury will be joined by several NHL alumni and other celebrities:

  • Colin Patterson
  • Curtis Glencross
  • Mike Commodore
  • Dana Murzyn
  • Mike Cvik
  • Russ Romaniuk
  • Sean Selmser
  • Perry Berezan
  • Tony Stiles
  • Brent Krahn
  • Dwayne Hay
  • Harvie Pocza

Participants will also take in a demonstration by Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk to kick-off the tournament, as well as tips from local golf pro, Todd Halpen.

Participants can register to golf as individuals, as foursomes or for a small additional donation, play alongside a former NHL player for the day. In addition, there will be a silent auction, awards banquet and short speech by Theo Fleury. Sponsorship packages are available, and many packages are still available.

The BFF Golf Tournament is on Thursday, September 13 at Sirocco Golf Club (210178 64th Street West). Information on registration and sponsorship opportunities can be found online here.

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 night, we hosted the first monthly meet-up at Serenity Now Wellness, a location that we have the honour of using once a month, in addition to The Commons. We will host at Serenity Now the first Wednesday of every month, and a second meet-up at The Commons, the schedule will vary. We are so grateful to host meet-ups twice a month!

ABOUT SERENITY WELLNESS

Tessa Martin is a psychologist and the owner of Serenity Now Wellness, she shared how all of their practitioners are trauma-informed.

At Serenity Now, you will have access to our team of Calgary psychologists, mental health counselors, massage therapists, dietitians, and yoga therapists who are dedicated to creating a peaceful and relaxing therapeutic environment, enabling you to work through a diverse range of issues.

Last night, 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.

IDEAS & INSPIRATION

  • Mike Terry: Terry is a veteran biking across Canada for veterans. Recently, he shared a video on suicide that hit home for a veteran at our meet-up.

I want to carry the message that we as veterans are all connected, that we are all worthy of happiness and purpose. I want every veteran to know that it is ok to struggle. And that no one of us needs to face our demons alone or fear judgement for them. – Mike Terry

  • Tools on dealing with triggers (as shared by the group):
    • Gratitude journal
    • Writing
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
    • Boxing/fitness
    • Music
    • Food/diet
    • Massage
    • Reading
    • Photography
    • Nature
    • Animals
    • Support/friendships

RESOURCES

  • EMDR: EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is an integrative psychotherapy approach. This type of therapy uses a patient’s own rapid eye movements, to take emotionally charged memories out of traumatic events. Using eye movements and “tricking your brain”, therapists can essentially reprogram the memory of a traumatic event to more positive or neutral emotions. [Learn more about how it works]
  • ‘The Body Keeps the Score’: this is a book on the body’s interaction with trauma, written by Bessel van der Kolk, MD.

Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. [Amazon]

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 GOLF TOURNAMENT

Our mission is to provide survivors of traumatic life events with the treatment and support needed to reclaim their lives. Our goal is to pave the road for trauma healing and create valuable conversations about mental health, trauma and abuse. Removing the stigma, starting the healing, one day at a time.

One of the ways we are doing this is through our Therapy Grant Program, which allows approved candidates to receive designated therapy services, paid for via our foundation.

The fundraising goal of our tournament is to raise $25,000, that will enable 33 individuals to access therapy grants.

Full schedule available on the website!
18 holes | Prizes & swag | Lunch & Banquet Dinner | Silent Auction & Celebrity Golfers

Confirmed celebrity guests include:

  • Theo Fleury
  • Curtis Glencross
  • Mike Commodore
  • Gord Bamford
  • Colin Patterson
  • Dana Murzyn
  • Brent Krahn
  • Sean Selmser
  • Russ Romaniuk
  • Dwayne Hay
  • Mike Cvic

Sponsorships are still available and we encourage you to register and help us spread the word!

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.

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 night, 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.

THEMES

  • Trauma and control: trauma takes our control from us so it’s natural that survivors and victors of traumatic experience look for control in other areas of their lives. Disordered eating, addictions, compulsive behaviours — all examples of looking for control. Is it possible to seek control over something that is not unhealthy? Yes! We can choose healthier food options, we can choose to exercise and how we exercise. This leads us into the next point…
  • Mindfulness: mindfulness and meditation were constant themes last night, as many participants noted these as being important tools in their toolbox. One of our favourite participants, Susan Rochow of Eckert Centre, explained the notion of mindfulness in this aspect so perfectly:

“It’s really the issue of intentional dissociation.  There is a time to be present with thoughts and feelings, and there’s a time to turn them off.  When we do it via auto-pilot, that’s dissociation – great survival technique, but not particularly “healthy” as a lifelong strategy.  When we do it mindfully, we are saying to ourselves, “this is important and needs my attention, but not right now.”  This is a really important skill to develop….to be able to be with our stuff, or put away our stuff, depending on what we need in that moment.  For example, it’s important for me to be able to contain my stuff when I’m going to work, when I need to sleep, when I’m tired of crying, etc.” — Susan Rochow

  • Forgiveness: this question always gets asked, and it’s the hardest one to answer. There is no secret recipe for getting to forgiveness. Try not to pressure yourself into forgiveness. Forgiveness is a feeling, not an action. Forgiveness can be difficult for many reasons: we haven’t let go of our anger, we want to harm those who’ve harmed us, or simply the notion that forgiving will free our offenders from justice. When battling with being able to forgive, it’s important to note that forgiving does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean justifying the actions of your offender. [Read more]

“Remember, real forgiveness does not make excuses for the other person’s hurtful behaviour. Forgiveness is a decision that you make with your whole self after you have done your emotional work.” — Kim Barthel, from ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’ 

IDEAS & INSPIRATION

  • Spirituality: this is a concept that circled back into the conversation last night. Spirituality often gets mistaken for religion, but spirituality is broader than religion, it’s a simple belief system that helps us connect to ourselves, others and things beyond us.

“To me, spirituality is all about relationship. Most addicts are traumatized in their family of origin situations, so what they really lose faith in is relationship. That’s a setup for addiction. The trauma causes emotional pain for which the best answer is spirituality.” — Theo Fleury from ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’

REFERENCES

  • EMDR: EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is an integrative psychotherapy approach. This type of therapy uses a patient’s own rapid eye movements, to take emotionally charged memories out of traumatic events. Using eye movements and “tricking your brain”, therapists can essentially reprogram the memory of a traumatic event to more positive or neutral emotions. [Learn more about how it works]
  • Eastside Family Centre: this is a walk-in counselling service provided by Woods Homes. If you are looking for help between meetings, this is a great option.

NEW 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.

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 Calgarians are reaching out, in desperation with their PTSD and mental health symptoms, and BFF is left in the saddest of positions — unable to help.

Because of this our Chair, Amber, has organized an emergency fundraiser to help our organization stay afloat! Trauma comes in all forms and BFF sees it all, and we need your support. On February 24th, you can take part in an incredible evening in support of BFF. 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 inspiring 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, songwriters and spoken word poets will be performing pieces, inspired by their own trauma experiences.

It is going to be an incredible night. Space is limited, so get your tickets! The event is taking place at the gorgeous new Railyard Brewing. Please note: there is no kitchen on-site, but we will have a small concession open with proceeds to BFF.

The Breaking Free Foundation (BFF) is has confirmed additional dates for our groundbreaking events at The CommonsBFF Meetups: group healing through conversations. Our President, Theo Fleury and members of the BFF team will 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.

BFF Meetups are only being held in Calgary at this time, and you can join us on one of the following dates:

  • March 22, 2017 7 pm at 105, 1210 – 20 Ave SE. *FREE to attend*
  • April 19, 2017 7pm at 105, 1210 – 20 Ave SE *FREE to attend*

Entry to BFF Meetups is FREE! We appreciate the support for our organization and the community. You can follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram as well.

The Breaking Free Foundation is excited to announce the launch of a new program we’re offering, BFF Meetups: group healing through conversations. Our President, Theo Fleury will 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.

BFF Meetups are only being held in Calgary at this time, and you can join us at locations listed on the following dates:

  • August 10 at 7pm at The Commons: 105, 1210 20 Ave SE *FREE to attend*

Entry to BFF Meetups is with a donation to Breaking Free Foundation, and at Cardel with a food bank item as well. We appreciate the support for our organization and the community. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well.