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

UPDATED: Island Health warns of overdose spike in Cowichan over past 48 hours

A spike in overdoses in the Cowichan Valley has Island Health officials… Continue reading

Lack of security: why Vancouver Island food production is on the decline

Big Read: agriculture a big, expensive commitment as advocates push to make us more food secure

Ladysmith printmakers hold inaugural show at gallery

Momentum Press to feature over 100 traditional and contemporary prints

Canada Summer Jobs funding creates 26 positions for Ladysmith youth

Youth employment in town is getting a boost from the federal government… Continue reading

Countdown is on to the 2018 B.C. Summer Games

Cowichan Valley hosts on July 19-22

VIDEO: Million Dollar Quartet shines spotlight on Father of Rock ‘N’ Roll

The story of an impromptu jam session that ended up being a… Continue reading

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

Most Read