CMHA Mayor's Luncheon Held Thursday

Author Joy Desjarlais makes her presentation at the CMHA's Mayor's Luncheon at the Sky Centre

A Saskatchewan author told a personal story of forgiveness at the Canadian Mental Health Association's Mayor's Luncheon Thursday at the Sky Centre in Swift Current.

Joy Desjarlais of Moose Jaw, the guest speaker for the event, wrote the book "The Right to Remain Silent", which was about her nephew who was abandoned by two police officers on the outskirts of Saskatoon on a bitterly cold night in January 2000.

"My nephew had no rights at all," Desjarlais said. "They didn't take him down to the cells, they just took him outside the city and abandoned him there. It was like he had no voice... he wasn't given his rights."

The officers were convicted and served a jail sentence in that case, and Desjarlais talked about how she learned to move on following that incident.

"The message was to forgive," she added. "If we don't forgive, it causes a lot of stress, it causes a lot of health problems. We just can't get ahead. You can't move forward, because you're always stuck in the past about what happened."

One hundred eighty people were in attendance for the luncheon, which helps support and raise awareness for the CMHA, making it one of the highest-attended luncheons in its eight-year history.

"We felt that we're able to share our message," said CMHA Local Branch President Dave Spencer. "I think every year, the important thing is that people become more and more aware of mental illness and mental health, and are willing to support it."

Joy Desjarlais talked with reporters following her presentation:

Dave Spencer commented on the luncheon: