On May 8, 2019, Member of Parliament and military veteran Erin O’Toole and LGen the Honourable Roméo Dallaire co-hosted the 6th Annual Sam Sharpe Breakfast.
Back in 1908, LCol Sam Sharpe was elected to the House of Commons, and he was the sitting Member of Parliament for Ontario North at the outbreak of the First World War.
Sharpe organized and raised the 116th Battalion (Ontario County), and commanded them from February 1917 to December 1917. LCol Sharpe and his unit fought at both Avion Trench and the Battle of Passchendaele and were held in reserve at the assault on Vimy Ridge. His experiences in the War, while on the front, left him with mental health injuries.
Tragically, on May 25, 1918, he took his own life while in a Montreal hospital. He was a respected community leader, and his death left the members of Ontario County both shocked and saddened.
“This event is held in his honour to recognize the struggle of Canadian servicemen and women who suffer from operational stress injuries and to highlight individuals and organizations dedicated to assisting CAF members, Veterans, First Responders and their families,” stated O’Toole.
Speakers at the breakfast explored the topic of Veterans’ mental health and wellness. The keynote address was given by Major Dr Trevor Jain, where he shared his experiences following his response to the Swiss Air disaster in 1998.
“This breakfast brings together Parliamentarians from all parties, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans, mental health advocates and members of press gallery during Mental Health Week to hear from a guest speaker and discuss issues related to mental injuries from service and mental wellness more broadly from the viewpoint of the Veteran or family member,” stated O’Toole.