Their stories are bound together by several common threads — of having to overcome the stigma of mental illness in order to heal; of the importance of family in their healing process; and, ultimately, of becoming advocates for increased or enhanced services that will help others dealing with similar challenges. And in coming together, they have brought humanity to what they do and dignity to the people they have helped.

On February 28, 2014, these individuals were honoured by The Royal at its 11th annual awards gala, aptly titled Inspiration.

"TD is extremely proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Royal’s Inspiration Awards Gala, and we applaud the achievements of some outstanding members of our community. At TD, it is incredibly important to us that we all do our part to strengthen our communities and positively impact the lives of the people who live in them, and we are proud to partner with The Royal."
Scott McElligott, VP and Regional Head, TD Wealth Private Client Group

Leader for Mental Health Category

Patrick Dion

Patrick Dion has been a committed advocate for mental health assistance and understanding ever since his brother’s mental health began to deteriorate a number of years ago. Today, he is a vice-chair of the board of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, is an advisor to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in matters related to mental illness, and speaks widely about his family’s experience and hope for mental wellness.

Youth Category

Shaylee Escander

For Shaylee Escander, her teenage years were crippling ones, to the point where her anxiety caused her to be absent from school frequently. She discovered the joy of writing and how it helped her confront her fears. She penned No Show No Tell, a children’s book, and today shares her story at Ottawa elementary schools.

Community Category

Linda O’Neil

Linda’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder fuelled her interest in mental health education, to which she has dedicated her life as a professional and a volunteer. She has worked on many programs and activities at The Royal. She was a founding member of the Depression/Manic Depression Mutual Support Group and has worked with CMHA Ottawa for more than 10 years as a public education consultant. Sound Mind was the public radio show that she wrote and produced. She might be best known as the author of two plays that have been performed in Ottawa, “What Goes Around” and “Bonkers.” Her use of theatre to throw the spotlight on mental health issues has been widely applauded.

Personal Category

The following individuals were honoured in the Personal Category:

Debbie McFarlane

A long-time volunteer at The Royal — and someone who struggles with borderline personality disorder and the lingering effects of drug addiction — Debbie McFarlane leads by example. She volunteers in the clothing and gift shops, My First Suit, and at special events, and is a co-facilitator of Wellness Recovery Action Plan, a 10-week program intended to help people use wellness tools to help them manage their illness.

Catherine Corey

To say that Catherine Corey is a committed community volunteer is an understatement. A practising psychotherapist with a son who has struggled with mental illness, she lends her time to the Addictions and Mental Health Network of the Champlain LHIN and is a member of The Royal’s Family Advisory Council; is a former volunteer at the Ottawa Sexual Assault Centre; and was project leader for the publication From Rollercoaster to Recovery: A Guide for Families Navigating the Addictions and Mental Health System in Champlain.

Daniel Rathwell

Daniel Rathwell — a kid from a nice, middle-class home — ended up addicted to hard drugs and living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. With courage and determination, he broke the cycle of addiction and now works as an addictions counsellor in Ottawa. He is the Ottawa Coordinator of the National Recovery Day, which takes place in the month of September.

Six individuals with six very different stories and backgrounds — but all using their own experiences to act and inspire. For serving as models of hope and inspiration to others; for educating others as a result of their own experiences; for demonstrating extraordinary commitment to personally overcoming or supporting others to overcome the challenges of living with mental illness or addiction, The Royal has honoured them with well-deserving inspiration awards.

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