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Car show brings awareness to men’s mental health

Hoods were popped outside the Bonnyville townhall and the sun was finally shining for the men’s mental health car show and shine on June 19.

BONNYVILLE – Hoods were popped outside the Bonnyville townhall and the sun was finally shining for the men’s mental health car show and shine on June 19. 

The parking lot was packed with incredible vehicles, drawing a great crowd.  

"There was quite a good turnout. The show and shine was bigger than our expectations,” says organizer Myrtle Beaulieu. “We were so happy... So many folks from Cold Lake Bonnyville and in between [came].” 

Bill Parker, owner of a 1971 LeMans Sport car and member of the Cold Lake Cruisers car club, says the car show is a fantastic way to draw people out and support endeavors like men’s mental health advocacy.  

Parker says car refurbishing is a massive industry in Alberta with lots of interest, and that was evident in the admirers crawling underneath cars and poking their heads under hoods to have a look. 

For Beaulieu, men’s mental health is an issue near and dear to her heart, having lost her husband to suicide. 

“My husband took his life by suicide 10 years ago. He was a father to four beautiful daughters and one grandson at the time. The repercussion of his decision is still felt today in our family. I believe the stigma and the silence ended his life,” she shares. 

Beaulieu took on the men’s mental health project with the Bonnyville Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and held a men’s focus group to ask what they wanted in a program.  

There was “lots of discussion around starting conversations around the stigma of mental health. Some of the words men had heard was ‘stop being a wimp or wussy.’ We talked about how to reach out to the everyday man, how men had lots of stresses. Some of the setbacks were also discussed, such as scheduling issues, as we are a community that works long hours and days. So FCSS is committed to awareness and support.” 

Beaulieu has plans to keep growing and adapting men’s mental health programs to fit into our busy culture.  

“We also will look into non-conventional ways to reach the average everyday man. A podcast was also talked about, this would reach more men. That might be something we do later down the road.” 

To create conversation and connections, a car bingo game was held at the car show.  

“We had a number of questions on the sheet encouraging participants to walk around and ask another person or stranger a question. Once they found that person, the person had to sign off their sheet. This encouraged people to step out of their comfort zone and start a conversation. Overall, I think it was a success,” says Beaulieu. 

The People’s Choice winner was a 2014 Mustang California special convertible, which owner Craig Gilbert says is one of only two in the province. Bike winner went to Jim Wark with this Indian motorcycle. 

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