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Fleury moving the conversation forward
Former hockey star who suffered abuse set to appear at Winnipeg event this week
Theoren Fleury is moving forward on a daily basis — and he’s inviting the community to join the conversation.
Fleury — a former Stanley Cup-winning NHL star who played for the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks — will be in Winnipeg this week as part of the "Breaking Free Through Healing Conversation: Moving Beyond Sexual Abuse and Trauma" event.
Fleury will join co-host Kim Barthel, a renowned therapist and teacher, for a day of cutting-edge information, personal reflection, inspiration and healing, organizers say. The event will be held at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre (281 Donald St.) on Thurs., Nov. 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In his bestselling 2009 biography Playing with Fire, Fleury confirmed that he was sexually abused as a junior player by former junior hockey coach Graham James. The book also chronicles years of alcohol and drug abuse and erratic behaviour, both on and off the ice.
The pair’s goal is to promote the message that, while it’s an ongoing process, it’s possible to heal from the emotional scars of childhood sexual abuse. The event is also intended to help lift the veil of shame felt by abuse victims and inspire self-awareness and compassion.
Fleury and Barthel will donate a portion of the event’s proceeds to the Aulneau Renewal Centre, which specializes in trauma and healing processes. The mission of the non-profit centre, which is located at 228 Hamel Ave., is to provide resources for children, youth and adults to build relationships. In turn, the centre will donate its event proceeds to provide free counselling for low-income families impacted by sexual abuse.
"This event was spurred from my travels across Canada, as I realized there was little or no help for people out there," said Fleury, who was speaking to The Lance from Calgary. "This is really something Kim and I believe in. The feedback from people so far has been beyond positive. They’ve been blown away."
Fleury — who was born in Oxbow, Sask. and raised in Russell, Man. — knows what it’s like to live for so long with the burden of so many dark secrets.
"It’s such a touchy subject and it’s very difficult to talk about and to move forward, so we’re just having a conversation and helping others to take away any shame. Personally, I just keep getting better every day."
The Olympic gold medallist said the Nov. 28 event promises to be a "great seminar for anybody."
"We’re talking about the biggest epidemic on the planet and the media don’t deal with the subject very well. This is a real opportunity to create a place and a network of people who are educated to talk about the subject and reach out to help people," Fleury said.
"Kim is a world-renowned therapist and she’s changed my life and given me a jump-start back into the recovery process. She’s been incredible. If we can get rid of the shame, it gets us on to a path to leading a happy, successful life."
Organizers say individuals are also welcome to donate event tickets (anonymously, if preferred) to be gifted to someone who wants to attend, but may not have the resources. Tickets are $195, excluding tax. For more information about buying or donating tickets, or to enter a draw for a ticket, call 204-987-7090.
To learn more, visit www.aulneau.com or www.theofleury14.com
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