We are here to shine light on adversity and nurture seeds of strength and hope.
We understand that mental wellness is a journey influenced by many factors. There is power in safe community, sharing our stories and trusting our subtle instincts.
Mind Ally is cultivating peer-support networks and building diverse and collaborative learning opportunities informed by research and guided by mental illness survivors.
I am a mother of three amazing girls. My firstborn, Rehtaeh died by suicide when she was just 17. Rehtaeh was a bright straight A student entering high school at 15 when she was raped and a photo taken of her assault. The photo was distributed throughout her school and community for 17 months as Rehtaeh struggled to navigate her trauma and the systems that failed to support her struggle. The emotional crumbling of an already stressed life occurred for me the day Rehtaeh told me about the assaults and the photo. Watching my vibrant ambitious girl fade away day after day while attempting to find help will haunt me for life. The unimaginable happened and Rehtaeh died by suicide on April 7, 2013. And what was left of me was broken wide open.
She fought so hard to stay here but in that moment…the moment won! Suddenly I was at the forefront of the media talking about the worst pain imaginable. I knew one truth at that time. I didn’t want her voice silenced!
She fought hard to speak her truth. She knew what happened to her was wrong and she was so angry, frightened, sad, depressed, anxiety ridden but mostly defeated.
Rehtaeh’s experience started to spark conversations on news outlets such as CNN, People Magazine, The Dr. Phil Show, CBC and countless media outlets. Documentaries continue to be made. Some include – “UnSlut – A Documentary Film” and “No Place to Hide – The Rehtaeh Parsons Story”. A separate one filmed for a Japanese audience and a recent “Web of Lies – The Girl in the Photo” on ID T.V.
Universities textbooks have included Rehtaeh in their criminology programs. Laws have been changed and implemented. Bill C -13 The Criminal Code of Canada, Cyber Abuse legislation (Nova Scotia). Reviews and changes to the Justice System & Mental Health System have also been implemented. The ripples of loss and impact are many but so are the societal shifts because her story became more than a statistic.
Rape and cyber abuse does not have a “type”. These are crimes that continue to occur around the world. Rehtaeh’s experience resonated with so many people near and far because Rehtaeh could be anyone’s sister, niece, daughter, friend, granddaughter or neighbour.
The impact of emotional pain in our family life every day since Rehtaeh left is vast and deep. Her two little sisters were forced to navigate trauma at a very young age.
The emotional path I walk is a continual struggle however, speaking up and sharing my voice with her message has been instrumental on my journey. Deciding to walk inward and face the darkness saved my life.
At some point I decided to choose “LIFE” and commit to my journey of inner awareness – stepping on a spiritual path and embracing all that I am. Turning inward gave me the trust and faith to continue on my journey one step at a time. Self-care that led to deep self-love is my top priority.
I know that speaking my Truth allows others to speak their truth. Healing our Communities one person at a time starts with us.
“We Must Be the Change We Wish To See in the World” – Gandhi (Rehtaeh’s Favourite Quote)
Leah has a MEd (Counselling) and is a certified Yoga Instructor. She completed her training in Soul Retrieval (Ancient Shamanic Practice) and focuses her counselling sessions on the Mind/Body/Soul relationship with the belief that we all have our own inner guidance system to help us navigate our struggles.