A Corunna native is kicking off a new social enterprise in October by bringing to Sarnia an iconic Canadian musician who knows what it feels like to battle mental illness.
Steven Page, former frontman of The Barenaked Ladies, is coming to the Imperial Theatre on Oct. 9 to talk about his struggle with depression and bi-polar disorder.
Page is an intelligent and honest speaker, said organizer Jeff O’Neill, founder and chief giving officer at The Giving Company.
O’Neill – who has a long professional history in human resources and fundraising – started The Giving Company just a month ago. It’s based in Toronto where he now lives.
He said he plans to use his new venture to highlight everything from international aid to clean water to self-esteem.
O’Neill is bringing the company’s inaugural event on mental health to Sarnia.
“I want to give back and do the first event there,” he said.
The following day, Oct. 10, is World Mental Health Day and Page will again be on stage for The Giving Company, this time in Toronto alongside retired Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire and Harvard-trained psychiatrist Dr. Shimi Kang.
“No one should struggle with mental health issues in silence,” said O’Neill. “Steven is well-versed on the topic and he’s entertaining too. He wants to get rid of the stigma.”
Page will combine his Sarnia talk with a set of acoustic songs he’s written throughout his career.
“He’s got a new album out Sept. 14 and will have to break away from a U.S. tour to do the show in Sarnia,” O’Neill said.
Page was with The Barenaked Ladies when the band played the Bayfest music festival in 2003, but this will be his first solo performance in Sarnia.
The Barenaked Ladies won numerous awards for songs like “If I Had $1,000,000,” “Brian Wilson” and “Jane” over two decades. Page’s much-publicized break from the band in 2009 came amid a divorce and drug arrest.
In 2011, he talked about his mental health problems while serving as a guest host on CBC’s The Current. He has since done many speaking engagements on depression, saying that increasing awareness is an effective way to promote mental health.
O’Neill said he hopes to bring similar events to Sarnia to address social issues and raise money for local charities. Proceeds from the evening with Steven Page will go, in part, to St. Clair Child and Youth, Sarnia Speaks and Jack.org.
“I’ve wanted to do a speaker series for years and, in particular, bring this topic to Sarnia,” he said. “I’ve had a few friends and family members with these kinds of issues. It’s so prevalent and sometimes the smaller markets get overlooked.”
For more information about The Giving Company, visit www.thegivingcompany.ca.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: An Evening with Steven Page presented by The Giving Company
WHERE: Imperial Theatre
WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 9 @ 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $50 online at www.imperialtheatre.net or the box office.