Monday, 17 July 2017 04:16

Theo Fleury to advocate for survivors of childhood abuse during Victor Walk through Swift Current

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Theo Fleury, who was in Swift Current performing at a concert in May (pictured) will be back in Swift Current July 19 as part of his Victor Walk Tour in order to help raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse trauma. Theo Fleury, who was in Swift Current performing at a concert in May (pictured) will be back in Swift Current July 19 as part of his Victor Walk Tour in order to help raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse trauma. File photo

Theo Fleury will lead a team of walkers on a five-day walk to five cities in Saskatchewan, including Swift Current, to raise awareness about the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and to give a voice to survivors.


The 2017 Victor Walk Tour starts July 18 in Saskatoon and ends in Regina July 22.
The Victor walkers will be in Swift Current July 19 and they will also visit Moose Jaw July 20 and Estevan July 21.
In each city there will be an opportunity for people to join the walk and to participate in a rally with Fleury and the Victor Walk team. There will also be a free screening of the acclaimed documentary Victor Walk about Fleury’s inaugural 10-day walk from Toronto to Ottawa in 2013.
The success of the initial walk resulted in the creation of the Breaking Free Foundation, a non-profit organization that advocates for survivors of traumatic life events. Fleury continues to raise awareness about childhood trauma and the foundation’s work, and Victor walks took place in Alberta in 2015 and in Manitoba in 2016.
For Fleury, the Victor Walk is part of his life’s work to speak up for victims of childhood abuse. He will do that whether he is walking or standing on a stage for a speaking engagement or a musical performance with the band Death Valley Rebels.
“Victor Walk or whatever, it’s all tied together,” he said. “So it’s all the same message.”
The former NHL player found his purpose in life after the publication of his autobiography in 2009, in which he revealed he was abused by hockey coach Graham James.
“I finished a very successful hockey career and I had more than half my life to live and I had no idea what that looked like,” he said. “Writing the book quickly gave me purpose for the rest of my life, and that was to help reach out and help other people find their own voice who had gone through similar experiences such as myself.”
He was overwhelmed by the response of people to his book. Many abuse survivors approached him at book signings or speaking engagements to talk to him about their stories.
“They felt safe that they could tell me their story and I wouldn’t judge and I wouldn’t point a finger,” he said.
“I haven’t stopped since 2009. I’m on the road 200 days of the year now. I do 80 speaking engagements a year and do some music stuff, and it’s amazing how many people carry this secret around for so long. It causes them all kinds of issues in their life, and when I see them they’re at the point where it’s time to surrender and seek out some healing opportunities.”
He saw a similar response from people during the previous Victor walks, when many participants approached him to talk about their trauma and survivorship.
“That’s why we do it,” he said. “Instead of them trying to find us, we come to you. That’s what I wanted. I wanted to come to these communities all over Canada and at some point get to every place, because there’s 10 million survivors of child sexual abuse in Canada and a lot of them are carrying around secrets.”
He mentioned the song Sick as your Secrets on his 2015 debut album I am who I am is a reference to his own struggles with his secrets.
“I was carrying around all this trauma and I didn't know where to go,” he said. “I didn’t know who to talk to, I was afraid and scared and lonely and so now that it’s all out in the open. I have nothing to hide, I feel a lot better, and that’s sort of the gist of the Victor Walk. To find these people and to come to them and give them that opportunity to talk about whatever they want to talk about.”
The 2013 Victor Walk from Toronto to Ottawa took place after he called a friend and suggested they should go on a walk.
“He thought I wanted to go on a walk that night,” Fleury recalled. “I said ‘no, I want to walk from Toronto to Ottawa and just see what happens.’ So it was very organic and very grassroots. We did a fundraiser in Calgary, we raised like $12,000 and got two Winnebagos. I got seven of my closest friends and off we went. It was absolutely life changing for all of us that were involved in this walk.”
At the time, he already had contact with the Los Angeles film director Michael Lynch, who was interested in doing a film about Fleury’s life. As a result of Fleury’s suggestion, Lynch came to the walk and produced the documentary.
“It is amazingly powerful,” Fleury said. “We live in this world of reality TV, but it’s produced reality TV and what you see in the documentary is people live on camera telling their story for the first time. That’s what makes the documentary so powerful, and so in your face and so inspirational.”
People who want to participate in the Victor Walk in Swift Current July 19 can gather at Market Square in downtown Swift Current (corner of Central Avenue North and Chaplin Street) between 4 and 4:30 p.m. The walk will start at 4:30 p.m. and participants will follow a route along the Chinook Parkway before returning to Market Square, where there will be a rally with Fleury and the Victor Walk team at 5:30 p.m. The free screening of the documentary Victor Walk will take place at the Lyric Theatre at 7 p.m. There will be a question and answer session with Fleury after the film.
More information about the 2017 Victor Walk in Saskatchewan is available on the Victor Walk website at: http://victorwalk.com.

Read 970 times Last modified on Wednesday, 19 July 2017 10:55
Matthew Liebenberg

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