Former Canadian NHL star Theo Fleury led a small sea of orange around Red Deer’s downtown core late last week.
The people sported t-shirts clad with the word ‘victor’ during their walk in which their aim was to raise funds for victims of childhood trauma and encouraging victims to become victors by engaging in the online conversation started through Fleury’s Victor Movement.
Following Fleury’s career in the NHL, the former Calgary Flames’ right wing co-wrote his autobiography, Playing With Fire – in which he detailed his account of being sexually abused by former coach Graham James.
Since the release of his book, Fleury has developed a career as a public speaker and founded The Victor Movement and has conducted various Victor Walks such as the one held last Thursday in Red Deer.
Both Fleury’s Victor Movement and Victor Walks aim to raise awareness around childhood trauma while also advocating for change and providing access to resources to aid in healing such as counseling.
“Almost everything I’ve learned in life has happened to me through the game of hockey, and I’ve learned that nothing in life happens by coincidence,” said Fleury while standing in front of the Red Deer Arena where he began the local Victor Walk.
“Now that I’m done playing hockey my life has become about helping people get to where they need to go – I always thought I was a hockey player, but this movement is what I was put here (on Earth) to do.
“Whether it be through storytelling and helping them to tell their own stories or helping them find the support they need – I’m blessed to have had the career in hockey I have, but I really think it was preparing me for the role I’m in today and this place in my life.”
Funds raised through Victor Walks go to support the Breaking Free Foundation (BFF), with BFF director Amber Craig stating the Foundation’s mission is to provide survivors of traumatic life events with the treatment and support needed to reclaim their lives.
She added not only do they hope to support those in need, they also hope to be a trusted online hub where victims may connect with others and tell their stories.
“This whole movement is really important and tying together the Victor Movement and the Breaking Free Foundation gives people a safe space to open up,” explained Craig. “People are slowly catching on to what we are doing and I think it’s going a big way to break down the stigma so people are coming forth more and more to tell their stories.”
Fleury and the Victor Walk made several stops across Alberta including Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton, with the first Victor Walk taking place in 2013 when Fleury and a group walked from Toronto to Ottawa over 10 days.
For more information or to support the Victor Movement, visit www.victorwalk.com.