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By Andrew Weaver
Today in the legislature I had the pleasure of introducing Jackie Powell along with Sister Patricia Donovan, Sister Judi Morin, Cherry Lynn Brown, Bruce Sanders, Joe Devison, Naomi Beck, Owen Jones, Mike Mori, Tula Rivera, Peter Fitzpatrick and Sonia Garza, who have been instrumental in setting up Connections Place. As noted on their website:
“Connections Place is a Greater Victoria, BC-based community that helps people with mental illness achieve self-reliance, and use their skills and talents to get their lives back on track.“
I first met Jackie Powell in 2014 when she came to me as a constituent with a vision. She wanted to realize a goal of providing a day program for people with mental health challenges. I was incredibly impressed with her presentation on the need for a program modelled on the Clubhouse International program. Jackie has persevered and built support for her initiative and kept me informed of her progress for the last five years.
Connections Place opened up its doors in March of 2019 and now has about 100 members, with more coming onboard every week. I’m absolutely thrilled to see her vision become a reality today.
Below I reproduce the video and text of the Statement I gave celebrating the importance of Connections Place in our community.
Today is World Mental Health Day. There are many individuals and organizations doing incredible work in this field across our beautiful province. But today I want to speak about just one that I had the pleasure of visiting this past summer. Connections Place is a recently opened Clubhouse International in the greater Victoria area. The Clubhouse model is an evidence-based model of psychosocial rehabilitation for people who are struggling with a mental illness.
Isolation is a major factor in mental illness, and a clubhouse gives a people a reason to wake up in the morning, a place to come to, to have a purpose, to be welcomed, needed and wanted, to be part of a community of caring people. I witnessed that firsthand and put behind those words my experience to say that they are exactly as I read. A small group of trained staff work alongside members to guide them to full social inclusion.
Connections Place is not alone in B.C. Their mentor clubhouse, Pathways in Richmond, has been operating for over 30 years successfully and helping the lives of many. It’s been named as one of Canada’s top 10 impact charities. This is clearly a model that works.
One in four people struggle with a mental illness in the greater Victoria area. That’s about 95,000 people. Almost a quarter of that number will have a serious and permanent mental illness — almost 25,000 people — which can cut life expectancy by up to 20 years. Families, employers and emergency services are all impacted.
Connections Place opened up its doors in March of 2019 and now has about 100 members, with more coming onboard every week. I welcome the addition of Connections Place to our community. This was Jackie Powell’s vision when I first met her in 2014. I’m absolutely thrilled to see her vision become a reality today.