Former NHL player Theo Fleury is in Esk’etemc First Nation in B.C.’s Interior this week to discuss healing and community spirituality. Dawn Roberts submitted

Former NHL player Theo Fleury visits B.C. First Nations community

Abuse survivor Theo Fleury has been working with communities focusing on healing since 2009 and visited Esketemc First Nation in the Cariboo this week.

Former NHL player Theo Fleury was in the Cariboo this week for two days talking about men’s healing and the importance of community and spirituality with Esk’etemc First Nation near Williams Lake.

The visit marked Fleury’s 300th time going to a First Nations community to work with people since 2009 when his book Playing With Fire was released, revealing how he had been sexually and mentally abused by his junior hockey coach Graham James in Winnipeg.

“It’s all about healing,” Fleury said of the reason he goes into communities, during a phone interview with the Tribune.

When he visits First Nations communities he sees there are a lot of issues still lingering from the residential school legacy, he said.

He encourages people to change their mindset from being a victim and moving forward, he added.

“You cannot change the past, but you can certainly change the future.”

Fleury spent time in a sweat lodge with the men at Esket Tuesday and said when he visits different communities he learns there is spirituality and healing available to people and he is baffled as to why more people don’t participate in the spirituality of their culture.

“That’s how you are going to be free from the trauma, is to embrace your spirituality,” he said.

“Residential schools were invented in the first place because the church knew they had to break the Aboriginal spirituality or they wouldn’t be able to have an impact. The way back to self is spirituality.”

When asked if he finds the work satisfying, he replied, “no question.”

“Helping is healing,” he added.

Trauma teaches people that they are no good, and that they are not lovable, which often leads them to abusing themselves, Fleury said, noting he finds people gravitate to him. “I am extremely busy travelling to somewhere new every week.”

Originally from Russell, Manitoba with a Cree heritage, Fleury now lives in Calgary. He has four children, ages 30, 20, 19 and nine.

These days he doesn’t get any time on the ice playing hockey, he said, but noted in Esket he witnessed how much hockey means to many of the people there.

“We met a guy yesterday who is 58 years old and he plays anywhere between 14 and 30 games a month,” Fleury said. “It is awesome.”

Chief Fred Robbins credited former Chief Charlene Belleau for inviting Fleury to the community after she heard him speak at a First Nations health conference in Vancouver.

“It was amazing listening to the ups and downs of his story and how he has impacted people,” Robbins said of Fleury.

Fleury’s message had a positive impact, he added.

“I think some of the men in the healing circle received information and tools to be successful in their sobriety and drug addictions,” Robbins said.

“He is a positive role model for a lot of people.”

Fleury accepted an invitation from Robbins to return to Esket in the summer to participate in a traditional fast in the mountains.

“He would also like to come when we have our annual AA Roundup,” Robbins said, noting Fleury is planning a follow up movie and would like to feature Esket in it.

To abuse victims who have not been able to come forward or talk to anyone yet about their situation, Fleury encouraged them to find a voice to expose their pain and suffering.

“That’s the only way you are going to get out of it,” he added.

Fleury said he is relatively at peace now, but has his struggles.

“I have lots of mental health issues that I need to deal with every day. I need to find a routine that helps me be positive.”

Read More: Dream of recovery centre comes to fruition at Esk’etemc First Nation

 

Theo Fleury met with boys and men Wednesday morning at Esk’etemc First Nation during a two-day stop in the community. Dawn Roberts photo

Just Posted

Couple selling fake jewelry in Fraser Lake, say RCMP

A man and woman have been defrauding local residents, offering fake jewelry for sale

Gitxsan forming cross-sector salmon management team

Nation again declares closure of fishery in territory for 2019

Editorial: The Speaker shouldn’t be an MLA

Time to re-evaluate the Speaker position

Column: condition of cows after winter feeding

The protein content of winter feed is important, says rancher David Zirnhelt

Concept designs for Vanderhoof’s new CNC campus unveiled

Community was invited to provide feedback at a public engagement session Dec. 6

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Climate change, receding glaciers increase landslide risk on B.C.’s Mount Meager

Climate change is causing glaciers atop Mount Meager, in British Columbia, to shrink increasing the chances of landslides and even a new eruption, says one expert.

UK’s May lobbies EU leaders in fight to save Brexit deal

Top European Union officials ruled out Tuesday any renegotiation of the divorce agreement with Britain.

Former Canadian diplomat detained in China amid rising tensions: reports

A former Canadian diplomat has been arrested in China, according to media reports and the international think tank he works for.

In depth: Simple falls causing serious injuries to people over 65

Kelowna’s high population of seniors puts it in the spotlight for how it deals with seniors’ issues

Time magazine’s 2018 person of the year

The group is made up of four journalists and are the “guardians and the war on truth”

Trump to meet with Democrats about border wall, shutdown

US president wants $5 billion for border wall, while Democrats offer up about $1.3 billion for fencing and other security measures

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Most Read