NGO holds grief talks

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Dealing with grief and loss can be a hard to talk about so a grassroots non-profit group, Northern Conversations, is hosting an event March 22 to air these topics in the open.

Petra Schulz, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm from Edmonton and TEDx guest, will be speaking about the loss of her son to the opioid crisis and how she has dealt with the fallout.

Petra Schulz gives a TEDx talk on the loss of her son to an oipiod overdose over five years ago. She will be speaking at the Baker Centre on Friday evening to stimulate conversation in the community about dealing with catastrophic loss. photo courtesy of Petra Schulz
Petra Schulz gives a TEDx talk on the loss of her son to an opioid overdose over five years ago. She will be speaking at the Baker Centre on Friday evening to stimulate conversation in the community about dealing with catastrophic loss.
Photo courtesy of Petra Schulz

“The opioid crisis is not just happening in the south,” Schulz said. “I know it has touched people’s lives and it is an honour for me to come and speak with people in the North.”

Schulz said the whole purpose of the talk is to help people open up about the things which can be most difficult, like the tragic loss of a loved one.

“These topics that people don’t like to talk about,” Schulz said. “If you mention you lost your son, that’s a conversation killer. But if we’re not open to talk then people aren’t able to ask for the help that they need.”

Michael Gannon, president of Northern Conversations, said this talk is aligned with the group’s mandate to touch on tough topics relevant to Northerners, regardless of generations or demographics.

“We want to get enduring conversations started in the community about some of the topics that have large impacts on all of our lives but are talked about the least,” Gannon said.

During the afternoon, Schulz will be putting on an invitation-only talk on harm reduction talk before addressing the public for a talk later in the evening.

“I understand that people are going to use drugs,” Schulz said. “It has been criminalized and stigmatized so talking about the issues can be an issue especially for families but they should not be ashamed to want help.”

France Benoit, active gardener, filmmaker and environmental activist will also be joining Benoit for the evening to discuss the loss of her husband and what she learned dealing with it.

“I was invited to join the talk since the topics we’re covering really dove-tail together so we can work together to find a way out of the suffering,” Benoit said.

Benoit said that everyone will experience the grief of loss in their lives

“There can be so much to grieve about in the world but if we can learn how to deal with it, we can find room in our hearts for joy and things to celebrate.”

The talk open to the public will be held at 7 p.m. at the Baker Centre on March 22.

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