By JESSE GAULT
After he overcame Ramsay Hunt Syndrome as well as mental health challenges, former Beach resident Mike Shoreman crossed all five Great Lakes on a paddleboard last summer. In March, Shoreman had a chance to celebrate his achievements during a meet and talk with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month.
Here is the interview Beach Metro Community News freelance writer Jesse Gault did with Shoreman after the meeting.
Beach Metro: What was it like meeting the Prime Minister?
Mike Shoreman: It was pretty incredible. It was a moment not just for me but for my team and for everybody who helped me. Like it was just me and him but this was a moment for my team. And it’s an honour to be invited and an honour to be recognized. It’s a really big honour.
Beach Metro: Can you give a bit of a play by play and your emotions going through it?
Mike Shoreman: I think it was a surreal moment. I went through security briefings. I went through two different security checks going through the airport and then I did a tour of the House of Commons. And I went up with my federal MP Ryan Turnbull (Liberal, Whitby), and we went up to his office and we were siting there. The Prime Minister was in Question Period…and we were called in very shortly after. I came in and he just had this big smile on his face. And he said, ‘I can’t believe you did that, five Great Lakes!’ And it was, you know, I was overwhelmed. It was a very cool moment. And we just spoke. We talked a little bit about the mental health of Canadians. And he thanked me and said this is amazing. It was a really big honour.
Beach Metro: What’s the Prime Minister like in person?
Mike Shoreman: He’s genuine and very impressive, distinguished and a great communicator. He asked me great questions. And a good sense of humour.
Beach Metro: What good do you want to come out of this meeting?
Mike Shoreman: I think the message that this sends to people who are in their own mental health journeys is that there is hope. You know, I had a mental health breakdown and I came back from that. Four years later I finished my journey with all of this and we were invited to the highest office in the country. So I think it gives people hope. And I hope it inspires people to keep fighting.
Beach Metro: Could you describe your journey to get to this point?
Mike Shoreman: So I got sick with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome in 2018 and developed speaking, hearing, vision, mobility problems. I had to learn how to walk again. The doctors said that I would never paddleboard again. And then I had a mental health breakdown. And on the other side of treatment, you know I started working at it and getting back on the paddleboard just slowly. Then I partnered with Jack.org and said that I was going to cross all the Great Lakes. And we crossed Lake Erie and then we crossed Lake Huron and then we crossed Lake Superior and Michigan and then we crossed Lake Ontario into Toronto where I was born. And, yeah, now it’s surreal. It’s very overwhelming.
Beach Metro: Is there anything you’d like to say to youth with mental health challenges or other disabilities?
Mike Shoreman: I’d like to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel, to surround yourself with people who will help you, and to not give up because you never know what can happen. And life can be pretty amazing sometimes.
Beach Metro: What plans do you have next?
Mike Shoreman: There is a speaking tour, the documentary coming out, it will come out in September. That will run across North America. And then the book. So essentially it will be pretty busy. Personally, just keep fighting the fight.
Beach Metro: Do you want to give a little explanation about the book and the movie?
Mike Shoreman: The book will be out in the fall. I’m keeping kind of a little bit tight-lipped on that. But it is coming. And then the documentary is a one-hour, 40-minute feature film on the Canadian mental health crisis. And it has the directors of different national mental health organizations like CAMH, Talk Suicide Canada, SICKNOTWEAK, and Michael Landsberg from TSN in it. It follows the mental health crisis in Canada. And it follows my journey crossing the Great Lakes.
Beach Metro: Can you describe your connection to the Beach?
Mike Shoreman: I used to live on Hannaford Street, and I grew up in the Beaches, and the Beaches are like a second home to me.
Beach Metro: Any charities you’d like to speak of for the readers?
Mike Shoreman: Yeah, CAMH, Jack.org, SICKNOTWEAK, Talk Suicide Canada, the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, those are all organizations that are involved with us, with the film. It will hopefully point audiences, Canadians and people around the world to those organizations.
For more on Mike Shoreman, please seek Beach Metro Community News’ earlier stories at:
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