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Noah Irvine speaks about mental health

Gord Martin (maternal grandfather), Ross Irvine (paternal grandfather), Noah Irvine, Joan Haid.

May was the last meeting for the New Horizon talks.  The guest speaker was Noah Irvine who is the advocate for Mental Health.  He spoke on resilience in the wake of Mental Health have experienced it first hand.

On introducing Noah, Joan mentioned he is the youngest speaker she has had for New Horizons and his talk was appropriate being  Mental Health week.    Noah is 18 years old and a student at Guelph Collegiate and hoping to go on to Wilfred Laurier University. He also works at Royal City Master Painters and works diligently as an advocate for Mental Health.  He has talked with the Prime Minister, written to every Premier, Health Minister, and Lieutenant Governor, been on the “Social” and spoke to the Rotary Club of Guelph Trillium, as well as being interviewed on the radio.

For 1 and ½ years he has been striving to get the word out.

It all began when a teacher had given the students in the class an assignment for political activism.  In 2015-16 he wrote a letter to his mother who had died of suicide in 2005.  She was 24 and he was only  5 years old at the time.  In 2015 when Noah was only 15 and his dad was 40, his dad died of an accidental over-dose of prescription drugs.

In February 2017 Noah wrote 336 letters to every sitting Member of Parliament. Only 11% (40 MPPs) responded.  Many were form letters.  Four thousand  people die each year from mental issues.  In August 2017 he called constituency offices from British Columbia to Newfoundland, spending at least 4 hours a day on the phone.  Many phone calls were not responded to.

He gained national attention when covered by the Guelph Tribune and received  12 thousand shares on the “Guelph Today” blog.

On September 13 Queen’s Park introduced Bill 149 to create a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.   This bill would see improved care for people with mental health challenges by bringing all government spending on mental health into one department. There are currently over 1000 agencies and 13 ministries with some responsibility for mental health and addictions. That day Noah received a standing ovation in the Ontario Legislature for his work.

Because of the current provincial election, government work on a Bill to create a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions stopped. For work to continue, a new Bill will have to be introduced after the election.

Noah also met with the new federal Minister of Health for 40 minutes and discussed, among other things, the idea of a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.  In October 2018, he received a phone call from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  They talked for 20 minute about a couple of items including creating a Secretariat for mental health and addictions within the Prime Minister’s Office to provide national leadership on the issue. While the Prime Minister expressed interest, the idea did not appear in the most recent federal budget. The BBC-TV ran a story on Noah which was sent around the world.

In November 2017, Noah wrote to the provincial and territorial health ministers but received only 8 replies.  Samara Canada which recognizes people who are involved in the political arena recognized Noah for his work in the under 18 years of age category. In total, approximately 250 people from across Canada had been nominated for the awards.

Noah stressed the importance of making your voice heard – you can make a difference.

Sandra Zinger president of the Maryhill Heritage Park Committee presented Joan Haid with a gift as a thank you for her contribution to the community with her New Horizons events, also thanked were Sandra Hachborn who supplies the delirious treats and Heather Trakalo who looks after the door.   Joan’s husband Earl sets up the room for the speakers.

These meetings take place the second Thursday of every month at 10 a.m. at the Maryhill Heritage Park Community Centre.  Admission is $2 which included refreshments and a delicious snack supplied by Sandra Hachborn.   These meetings kept you informed as well as ca hance to socialize and have fun.  The next sessions will begin in September.

Sandra Hachborn, Joan Haid, Heather Trakalo, Earl Haid, Sandra Zinger
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