Post by Cara Kane
September is one of my favourite months. The weather cools down, there’s pumpkin spice everything, and to me, September has always felt like a new chapter. An opportunity for a fresh start, bringing with it a renewed sense of hope. It’s quite fitting that this is the month that hosts Recovery Day, which itself is a celebration of hope.
Recovery Day is an annual event hosted by the Community Addictions Peer Support Association. In advance of this year’s event, we sat down to chat with Gord Garner, Chair of Recovery Day Ottawa, and Raylene Lang-Dion, CAPSA Board Member and this year’s MC.
Recovery Day is a public event designed to include the entire community, not just those currently in recovery. As Gord explains, “everybody knows somebody, this is a community issue.” In a 2012 Canadian Health Survey conducted by Stats Canada, about 21.6% of Canadians met the criteria for a substance use disorder over their lifetime. Substance abuse deeply affects not only the individual, but their friends, family and community. It’s a disorder that brings with it a sense of hopelessness and stigma. This is something Gord hopes Recovery Day will help combat. “When someone moves in any direction to well-being, that’s a movement towards recovery, they are in that instant recovering their sense of hope,” he explains.
That sense of hope is something worth celebrating. Gord shares the story of an attendee he met at last year’s Recovery Day who “was on their third day of abstinence, and will be celebrating one year in recovery at this year’s event,” something Gord attributes partly to “hope met”.
Recovery Day has been around in Ottawa since 2012 and continues to grow each year. Last year’s Recovery Day saw over 2000 people, more than double the attendees of the previous year. This year, Gord hopes for over 4000 attendees—“I hope you understand I’m still not satisfied,” he jokes, “but I want to celebrate the growth.”
Those attending Recovery Day can expect to find a feeling of community, celebration, and hope. “I think we can anticipate a lot of excitement, and also a lot of pride, and also a lot of release,” says Raylene, sharing that she’s looking forward to celebrating her daughter’s recovery at this year’s event. “Talk about bringing a community together, in a place that can say you know we’ve been through this, but we’re on the path to recovery, the huge roadway to recovery,” she shares.
This year’s event promises lots of fun—in addition to over 40 community partners joining with information on their services, there will also be a support meeting, information on peer support and family support groups, a BBQ, yoga, a guided mindfulness meditation and family fun park (with a bouncy castle!!). There will be musical performances by artists who have experienced recovery first hand, including Ottawa’s own Cody Coyote, Nashville artist Daphne Willis and former member of Great Big Sea, Sean McCann. For our earlier interview with Sean McCann on his new album and experience living in recovery, check out our podcast.
Recovery Day takes place Saturday September 23 at City Hall from 10am to 4pm. Visit www.recoverdayottawa.ca for a full schedule of events. For our full interview with Gord and Raylene, check out our podcast.