At The Forks in Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon, Ian Rabb facilitated a celebration for people recovering from addiction.
“I’ve lost 45 people a year for the past few years, of families and people I’ve worked with in addiction. So it usually is the sad stories,” said Rabb, co-chair of Recovery Day.
Hundreds of people dotted the field in front of CN Stage as music played, food trucks doled out snacks and people gathered to learn about addiction and recovery.
Rabb said the event, which debuted in 2019, is about acknowledging the people who have made the journey of recovery from drugs and alcohol, and supporting those who are just getting started.
Since its first iteration Recovery Day has grown, Rabb said. This year’s event featured keynote speaker Arnold McCuller.
A musician by trade, McCuller has performed with the likes of James Taylor and Phil Collins.
Now 39 years into recovery, McCuller said getting clean made it possible for him to remember important moments with his parents before they passed, once thought impossible while he was in the throes of addiction.
“I showed up for my dad. I kissed him on the forehead and I shaved his face and I told him, you can let go, it’s time to go. The following morning after I left his bedside, he passed away,” he told the crowd gathered around the CN Stage at The Forks.
The Sunday event also featured live music, activities and games for kids to make the event family-friendly, as family support is crucial in the process of recovery, Rabb said.
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Recovery from addition leaves people feeling very isolated, and families feeling very isolated, he said.
“So if we can break the stigmas in families, people will be more outspoken,” he said.
Events like Recovery Day are essential to dismantling stigmas surrounding addiction, Rabb said, which will lead to better care for those struggling with addiction.
For those beginning on the road to recovery or curious about how to get there, a resource tent doled out literature and pamphlets, while also providing support and encouragement from those who have been down a similar path.
“I can’t express it enough, that if you’re new, just keep coming,” McCuller said.
— with files from Katherine Dornian
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