Northern College Welcomes Humboldt Bus Crash Survivor Tyler Smith

January 23, 2023

KIRKLAND LAKE, ON: Northern College is pleased to partner with the Town of Kirkland Lake in hosting Humboldt bus crash survivor Tyler Smith, as he discusses overcoming tragedy, placing focus on mental health, and sharing his personal motto, ‘it’s okay to not be okay.’

On April 6, 2018, Smith’s life changed. For the weeks and months following that day, the young Junior Hockey player chose to suffer in silence, working alone to process his traumatic experience.  This experience taught Smith that his understanding of mental health and vulnerability was minimal, embarking on a journey to inspire further discussion on the subject.

“I now appreciate how much power a story can have. Everyone has a story and if my journey can make a small impact or result in some aspect of hope generated, then that’s what it’s all about,” stated Smith.

Speaking is never something Smith anticipated doing, but the experience has since become an integral part of his healing journey. After over 60 different speaking engagements, connecting with audiences in this way, it has grown into a passion.

“We all remember where we were and how we felt when we heard about this tragic event.  All of Canada was completely heartbroken,” stated Kirkland Lake Campus Manger Drew Enouy. “The fact that Tyler is here sharing his story with people is amazing.  It is so important to have these discussions around mental health.  It is great to have some positives come from such terrible circumstances.”

The Town of Kirkland Lake applauds the local minor sport organizations, many of whom will be in attendance, that integrate mental health supports into their annual programming and believe that normalizing conversations about mental health will allow a stronger and more resilient society.

“Trauma can affect your mental, spiritual and physical health; it can be extremely hard to talk about,” stated Bonnie Sackrider, Director of Community Services for the Town of Kirkland Lake. “We thank Tyler for reminding us all that talking about trauma won’t change the past, but it can change the future by allowing healing and growth.”

Northern College is committed to providing mental health supports to its staff and students, willing to play any role it can in supporting the broader conversation in its campus communities.

“Mental health care is health care,” stated Dr. Audrey J. Penner, Northern College President & CEO. “Now, more than ever, we must all take any opportunity to provide the space and support to engage in these conversations, these opportunities to learn and to support one another.”

“This conversation is the first step towards healing,” she added.

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