First Highway of Heroes Mental Health Symposium taking place November 23

SerViCe & SacriFice will be holding its first Highway of Heroes Mental Health Symposium- Turning Pain into Purpose, a forum to bring individuals with similar experiences for a day of healing and inspiration, on Thursday, Nov. 23.

The brainchild behind this event and a key speaker on Thursday is Kerri Tadeu, author of Secrets Keep You Sick and co-founder of SerViCe & SacriFice.

“It’s to bring people out of isolation, to get people in the same space with people who understand each other. In the grand scheme of things, it’s literally to unite Canadians,” mentioned Tadeu.

Tadeu will be speaking at the symposium about her personal experiences of being kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and escaping a near-death experience at 11-years-old. She will share with audience members who she has personally taken these experiences and moved from a place of pain to one of purpose.

“I talk about all the ways and everything I’ve learned to live a life of purpose, that life experiences don’t happen to us, they happen for us,” stated Tadeu.

As an example, Tadeu has taken the loss and pain of losing her friend Maj. Michelle Mendes, the 118th soldier to fall in Afghanistan, and channel it into helping others through SerViCe and SacriFice and adopting the Highway of Heroes.

“It’s so that people leave with an inspirational story of what one person has done with their painful experiences and how they can do it too,” explained Tadeu.

Also in attendance at the symposium will be Dave Sopha of Portraits of Honour.

According to Tadeu, however, at the heart of Thursday’s symposium is Sherry Lachine, owner of Broadmind, a social enterprise that focuses on community mental health.

“That’s really at the heart of why we’re doing this symposium, to provide some tools for Canadian Armed Forces, veterans, first responders and their loved ones, in keeping with when one person serves the whole family serves,” said Tadeu.

In early December, Lachine will be holding a Mental Health First Aid Course. The course is tailored to address the needs of CAF Veterans and those who care for them.

This event will take place on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 and will be held at the Hilton Inn Garden in Ajax, the same venue for Thursday’s symposium.

The Hilton has agreed to provide complimentary space for this symposium and for all of SerViCe and SacriFice’s future symposiums.

Veterans Affairs Canada has generously agreed to sponsor the course with no cost for up to 3,000 members of the veteran community.

Thursday’s symposium is intrinsically tied in with SerViCe and SacriFice’s adopting of the Highway of Heroes this year. The organization did their first cleanup in April, in the weeks leading up to the National Day of Honour in May. They held their second cleanup, the fall cleanup, in the days leading up to Remembrance Day.

At the time, they were only allowed three volunteers to assist with the clean. However, the Department of Transportation has now agreed to allow 11+8 volunteers for future cleanups. The number, 11+8, is significant because it represents how Maj. Mendes was the 118th soldier to lose their life because of the Afghanistan conflict.

Ideally, in the future, Tadeu would like cleanups to coincide with future symposiums and bring people from across the country to take part in both.

“It’s creating a space for people to lean into their painful experiences and be purposeful in that space,” said Tadeu.

The Highway of Heroes Mental Health Symposium- Turning Pain into Purpose will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn at 500 Beck Crescent Ajax, ON. Timings are from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Registration for SerViCe & SacriFice symposiums can be done by emailing [email protected].

The Mental Health First Aid Course will also be held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Ajax, ON on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

To register for the Mental Health First Aid Course, please contact Sherry Lachine at 613-484-2977 or [email protected]


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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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