The Edmonton Mental Health Awareness Committee (EMHAC) was formed in July 2015 with the purpose of doing a fundraising event for mental health that would bring together people living with mental illness to get a semicolon tattoo. Inspired by Project Semicolon, a movement that began in the United States, a semicolon can represent when an author could have chosen to end their sentence; but instead carried on. This message and symbolic tattoo resonated with many who battle mental illness and thoughts of suicide and those that love and support them and a committee was quickly created to produce a quality event in just seven weeks. Inspired by the impact we made on the community, EMHAC chose to continue working together towards the common goal of raising awareness and funds for organizations that were improving the lives of people living with mental illness.
Through an amazing network of volunteers and supporters from the community, EMHAC went on to produce a second, larger #YEGsemicolon event in May 2016. We were excited to discover that our events were helping to increase awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental illness, and our events were proving to be excellent opportunities to promote social inclusion and a sense of community.
EMHAC made the decision to apply for Society status in July 2016 and our status was recently approved.
Our organization is made up of strictly volunteers and our executive draws upon individuals from a wide spectrum of careers and skills, including individuals with lived experience.
What We Do
As we continue to evolve as an organization, our role is constantly changing, but we remain true to our mission statement which is: To raise awareness and support of mental health issues in the Greater Edmonton Area.
We do this presently by producing events that promote social inclusion and build community relationships and create excitement and pride within the mental health community. We believe in partnering with and supporting our fellow advocates and organizations for the greater good of improving the lives of people living with mental illness. We strive to find opportunities to promote activities that will engage the community and increase participation for all. Our primary focus is coordinating fundraisers and awareness events that are fun and unique that help remove the barriers of shame and stigma surrounding mental illness.
We do see EMHAC’s role potentially evolving into being a strong community partner and an advocate for the mental health community and we hope to play a role in helping our government partners implement their mental health strategies.
We are a non-profit organization with no paid staff.
EHMAC was proud to organize the first Bridge of Life event to remember those we lost to suicide on World Suicide Prevention Day 2016. We were honoured to have mental health advocate, City of Edmonton Councillor Scott McKeen join us for the candle light vigil and memorial walk.
EMHAC is thankful to the City of Edmonton for their ongoing support of our events. Here, Councillor Scott McKeen proclaims September 20, 2016 “The Bridge of Life” day honouring and remembering the lives we have lost to suicide.