My friends call me MamaCoop. I live in Caledon, Ontario (just outside of Toronto) and I have been married for 33 years to the world's greatest guy, Dennis. We have one daughter, the lovely and talented Megan, who I'm very proud to say has just completed her Masters Degree in Urban Planning. When I look at her I'm reminded that I've done something right in my life.
I live by the tenet, "Eat well. Live Long. Love hard." It's pretty simple. Food is love. Our table is a sacred place. Have you ever noticed how much better our day can be when we sit down together, with people we love and break bread. Never under estimate the power of congregate dining. When I have those days when I just can't feel settled I take to my garden and play in the dirt. There is something about the smell of Mother Earth's soil that lifts me up and reminds me that we need to respect this world and those in it.
I work as the Executive Director for an organization called FAME (Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere). This is simply the best work I've ever done in my entire life. Mental health is a pandemic global health issue and there is so much stigma around mental illness that so many who need help never reach out. I am on a mission to make some changes around mental health, here in my community, then slowly to make that reach across the country.
I am very proud to be parts of such initiatives as the Mental Health Commission of Canada's development of a Caregiver's & Family Member's Guidelines. Most recently I contributed to the Toronto Police Services independant review on excessive use of force by police in dealing with people impacted by mental health. I have also become an advocate on behalf of young carers. Hard to believe it but somewhere around you there is a kid taking care of a parent who is ill. It's time that we, as a community, support those children, so they can grow up to be healthy, happy people.
I want to enact legislation that recognizes family in their roles of care giving & recovery. It is time to review the PHIPA and it is time recognize the importance of caregivers in the wrap around process of recovery, for all illnesses. Family, in whatever construct that looks like, is the foundation of who we are.