Chetwynd man raising awareness for addiction and mental health - walking from BC to Winnipeg
A Peace Region man has turned anger into hope and desperation into a dream come true.
Stan Fraser of Dawson Creek will be walking from the west coast to Winnipeg next month.
He is hoping to shine a light on mental health and help others avoid the path he was forced to take.
"I was tortured in school by the teachers, I was humiliated with the kids. I grew up with a lot of anger, a lot of hatred. My teachers would tell me that I would never be nothing, it was a tough time.” Says Stan, Back in those days my parents couldn't really say nothing because they might take us away. We were always afraid of that."
Growing up in Northern Saskatchewan was at times a nightmare for Stan. With no way to cope, at a young age he became desperate.
"I went on a rip roaring nightmare for about 11 years and got into drugs, slept under bridges in Vancouver. A lot of hard times in and out of trouble with the law when I was younger", Stan says.
All the trauma became his gateway to addiction. A path that led to loneliness and heartache. But, 35 years ago, Stan finally said enough was enough. Hitting rock bottom became his foundation for change.
“I found myself on a lawn I was just so drunk and so sick of being sick and tired. I said, if there's anything up there I said, because I didn't believe there's anything up there I said, help me. So that night, I received, I don't know what it was, but I received a message and it was about me going back to my culture, going back to my grassroots.
Stan connected with his indigenous culture and found a new way to live. He also had another life event occur that changed him forever.
“I had a daughter, and for some reason, I knew I had to change."
That change for him became helping and putting others first. One step at a time, Stan began to heal and others started to take notice.His steps became strides as Stan started walking across the Peace Region, promoting mental health. He then shared an idea with his partner, walking from Bella Coola all the way to Winnipeg. the goal, raising money and awareness about addiction and mental health and how there is a road to recovery.
When Stan told Heather Irwin, his partner, about the plan. She had quite the reaction.
"I laughed at first and then when I realized he was serious, then I got on board. I thought, okay, if this is what you want to do, I support you 100%."
Stan is currently training for his walk, Joining a weekend hiking group called the ‘Walking Sista's Plus One’.
Heather will be joining Stan on his journey to Winnipeg.
"There's so much love and support to help guide him, or give him that extra encouragement. All I can do is be his cheerleader from the side view” says heather, “I’m so proud of him."
Stan will leave Bella Coola on May 29, then 71 days later he hopes to be in Winnipeg. He plans to walk for at least 8 hours per day along the journey. It is a task made even harder as he spent five days in the intensive care unit in Prince George last year with COVID-19, and a blood clot in his lung. Stan says he still suffers from the effects of long-covid, but he keeps going to inspire others.
“I just want to take everybody and say, you know, we can do this. We can we can go ahead and make it, but it does make me feel very proud of this community, of this area of support that I get. It's amazing.”
From the darkness of his past, Stan has done what few can do, step out from the shadows of addiction and shine a light on mental health. The nightmares of his past, now leading to the reality of a better future for himself and others around him.