Musician Rob McIver played a benefit concert at The Hub On Ross in support of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta (SSA) Red Deer Chapter on March 9th. The fundraiser was held in honour of McIver’s family friend, 26-year-old Andrew Carter who had schizophrenia and passed away unexpectedly on Feb 26th.
“It just kind of seemed right,” said McIver about playing the show in support of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta.
The concert raised $1,600 for the SSA. Society staff said they felt honoured to receive the contribution in Carter’s honour.
“I was just overwhelmed with his offer to give us this event to support people living with schizophrenia,” said Rubyann Rice, provincial executive director of Schizophrenia Society of Alberta.
McIver, who recently released his third country-folk CD The Older the Bull, the Harder the Horn was already scheduled to play at The Hub On Ross and thought donating his honourarium and inviting others out to support the SSA was a good way to honour Carter’s life.
He and his wife Deb used to babysit Carter when he was in elementary school. They remain good friends with Andrew’s parents Allan and Teresa Carter, who were in attendance at the event.
Andrew grew up in Red Deer and graduated from Hunting Hills High School.
His parents described him as a nature lover who could spend hours in the outdoors. He also enjoyed hunting. They said Andrew saw the world differently and appreciated a lot of the beauty that most people miss. He was artistic, sculpting clay trolls that he used for art installations set up in various places for people to discover. Andrew was also highly skilled with computers.
Rice said Andrew lived in one of Schizophrenia Society’s supportive housing units in Kentwood Place in Red Deer. She said he was a very nice young man who loved his family very much. She added that his death was a significant loss for their community.
“We’re just grateful to see the outpouring of support from the community—he was so well-known and liked and loved by everyone that knew him,” she said.
The Schizophrenia Society is the only organization in Alberta that directly supports people with schizophrenia as well as their family and caregivers. The SSA provides supportive housing to 53 individuals living with schizophrenia who might otherwise be at risk for homelessness.
Schizophrenia is a treatable brain disorder that affects 1% of Canadians, according to Statistics Canada. Symptoms include hearing voices and seeing things that are not real.
“It is a very challenging illness but with proper care, family and community support, along with medication and early intervention, people can and do lead meaningful lives,” Rice said.
McIver wanted to raise awareness about the disorder and the challenges it brings to individuals directly affected and their families.
Andrew’s father Allan said his advice to anyone that has a loved one with the disorder is to, “Love them for the way they are, not for the way you want them to be. You will find that these people (with schizophrenia) have big hearts, they have amazing talents and they are loving, kind people.”
There were over 100 people in attendance at the event, some were family and friends of the Carters, including their pastor and other members of their church, but most were just members from the community.
The Carters said they were ‘flabbergasted’ by the community’s show of support, and that they had not even expected half that many people to come out to the event. It was very meaningful to them.
A memorial service was held for Andrew on March 3rd at Parkland Funeral Home.