People in recovery from addiction and mental illness are gathering at The Forks on Sept. 14. Recovery Day Winnipeg is an all-ages event featuring inspirational guest speakers, music, a kids’ zone and resources from all around the country to help people transition into a drug-free lifestyle.
Recovery Day Winnipeg is in its second year, but there have been Recovery Day events in Canada since 2012. Greta Waples, a social-work student at Booth University College and an employee of St. Raphael Wellness Centre, instigated the idea after realizing that Winnipeg is the only major Canadian city without a Recovery Day event.
This year, the festival has collaborated with Aurora Recovery Centre to expand on last year’s smaller event. This year, the kids’ zone will include a bouncy castle, face painting and lightsaber fighting.
Vancouver-based rapper Madchild from hip-hop group Swollen Members will perform alongside Dizzy Mystics. Madchild will also share his story of recovery, as will some alumni of Aurora Recovery Centre.
American actor Mackenzie Phillips from Orange is the New Black will speak about her recovery and her work as a director of referral relations at the Breathe Life Healing Center in Los Angeles.
Recovery Day “shines a spotlight on reducing stigma surrounding not only being an acting addict but an addict in recovery,” Phillips says. “(That) is beautiful and important to me.”
Phillips will share her personal story about her addiction. After a public relapse in 2008, she shifted her focus from acting to counselling and has now been working as a counsellor for addicts in recovery for seven years. She doesn’t actively seek acting work, but she was asked to play an addict on Orange is the New Black.
Orange is the New Black depicts addiction “in a fair light, and they show the other side of addiction,” Phillips says. “They also give us the ability to see people change their lives even though they are in prison.”
Waples is also in recovery from addiction and was supported in her early days at St. Raphael. She will share her story of addiction and mental health at Recovery Day. Shortly after high school, Waples was pursuing speed skating when she injured her knee and was forced to retire early.
She turned to drugs as a means to cope. Years later, after the death of her grandfather, she wanted to get sober but didn’t know how to get help. Through the support of St. Raphael, Waples is now two years sober and ready to share what she has learned.
“I just want people to know that there is hope and joy,” she says. “You can still have all your dreams, and you don’t have to let this disease take over your entire life and define you. You have the power to change.”
Recovery Day takes place on Sept. 14 at The Forks starting at 11 a.m. For the full schedule, visit Eventbrite's website.