Thank you to everyone who joined us for an inspirational morning with Jesse Thistle as we celebrated the 10th anniversary edition of A Mental Health Morning – presented by ArcelorMittal Dofasco. With thanks to the support of our guests, sponsors and speakers, the event raised nearly $40,000 for mental health and addictions care at St. Joe’s.
This year’s hybrid event featured Métis-Cree author, poet and scholar, Jesse Thistle, who shared his deeply moving story of survivance and how acts of kindness, empathy and human connection helped him on his journey to where he is today. We are so grateful to Jesse for sharing his story of resilience and hope, and for the reminder that small acts of kindness can be a powerful force for change.
A special thank you to Marie Jones, Traditional Healing Coordinator at De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre for providing words before all else and reminding us how important our connection to the land, and to each other, is to our overall health, our mental and spiritual wellbeing.
Our Foundation would like to also extend our heartfelt congratulations to the 2022 Spirit of Hope Award winners. Each year, these awards honour the individuals and organizations in our community who are making impactful contributions to the fields of mental health and addictions care and research, or those who are actively working to reduce the stigma and shame that too often surrounds mental illness and substance use.
Thistle was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. In 1979, he and his two brothers were removed from his family home and moved to Brampton, Ontario to be brought up by his paternal grandparents. During his late teens and twenties, Thistle struggled with addiction, homelessness, and served several brief stints in jail for petty theft. After an unsuccessful robbery attempt in 2006, Thistle turned himself in to police custody and entered a drug rehabilitation program. In 2012, he entered the undergraduate history program at York University.
Thistle is a Trudeau Scholar, a prestigious award administered by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a Vanier Scholar, and was awarded a Governor General’s Silver Medal in 2016. He has won numerous other awards, including the Odessa Award in 2014 and the Dr. James Wu prize in 2015 for his paper We are children of the river: Toronto’s Lost Métis History, and in 2019 became an Atlohsa Peace Award Honoree.
In 2019, Jesse published his autobiographical and acclaimed book From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless and Finding My Way, which went on to be a #1 bestseller as well as nominated for Canada Reads. Jesse is the author of the Definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada published through the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, and his historical research has been published in numerous academic journals, book chapters, and featured on CBC Ideas, CBC Campus, and Unreserved.