The family of a Langford teen who died in Goldstream Provincial Park January is asking their community to join them in a 10-kilometre walk for mental health.
The body of 16-year-old Andre Courtemanche was found in the park on Jan. 9, 2021 – nine days after he went missing from the backyard of his family home. Andre had been suffering from anxiety and depression for several years before his death, and despite the tragic ending of his journey with mental illness, his family has decided to tell a story of hope.
“We want for people to remember him and what a special young man he was,” said Andre’s mother, Denise Courtemanche.
“Maybe by doing this, maybe there will be less stigma.”
|The family of 16-year-old Andre Courtemanche is asking their community to walk, jog or cycle 10 kilometres on May 8. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)|
On May 8, which would have been Andre’s 17th birthday, the community is asked to join the Courtemanche family in walking, jogging or cycling 10 kilometres – the distance Andrew would have walked if he had decided to return home that night.
Through the campaign, participants can donate to the Youth Empowerment Society or Bullying Canada.
Courtemanche said in the years before her son’s death, navigating the mental health care system was frustrating and difficult. She hopes sharing Andre’s story will help to de-stigmatize the process and raise awareness of the roadblocks to consistent care.
“There’s a lot of things that are just so disconnected. I feel like there should be a team approach like what they do in long-term care. I’m hoping things will change and people will know how to help one another.”
Those who participate can share pictures online on the Remembering Andre Courtemanche Facebook page.
“I want (people) to not give up hope. If they’re feeling in despair, I want them to know that there are so many people out there that care and want to help them,” Courtemanche said.
“And I’m hoping that if they’re financially not able to afford it, that this could help to get them the care that they need.”
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