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Ennis Sisters, CMHA-NL team up to produce video, commemorate 100th anniversary of mental health association

The Ennis Sisters are encouraging everyone to support mental health issues in their latest video, “Shine Your Light” introduced during a premiere viewing at the Signal Hill Interpretation Centre in St. John’s Tuesday. On hand for the event were Canadian Mental Health Association, NL Division CEO Dan Goodyear, the song’s cowriter Perry Chafe and (back from left) Teresa, Maureen and Karen Ennis.
The Ennis Sisters are encouraging everyone to support mental health issues in their latest video, “Shine Your Light” introduced during a premiere viewing at the Signal Hill Interpretation Centre in St. John’s Tuesday. On hand for the event were Canadian Mental Health Association, NL Division CEO Dan Goodyear, the song’s cowriter Perry Chafe and (back from left) Teresa, Maureen and Karen Ennis. - Sam McNeish

‘Where there’s no light, … Shine Your Light’

It is all about cousin Steve or a friend who passed away from suicide a few weeks back.

Or it could be about that person you have no idea is suffering mental anguish and has no idea how to combat it.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, NL Division (CMHA-NL) and the Ennis Sisters collaborated on a project to help those people struggling with any form of mental health, to produce a video with a powerful message of hope.

“We lost our cousin Steve about 10 years ago to suicide and this message has been near and dear to us since,’’ Maureen Ennis said prior to debuting the video “Shine Your Light’ at the Signal Hill Interpretation Centre in St. John’s Tuesday.

“If you are in trouble and need someone to lean on … reach out. We encourage more people to do more to end this stigma,’’ she added.

Ruth Lawrence of Blue Pinnion Films produced the video. It was her friend who took their life a few weeks ago and from the emotional waver in her voice, you could tell the work and the subject had extra meaning for her.

“I lost a dear friend. … I encourage you to keep talking,’’ she said.

“And most importantly, I ask each of you to follow three words — share, post and retweet — everyone will be wanting to see this (video),’’ she added.

That power was evident by the standing ovation it received and the misty eyes seen around the room denoting the powerful message of the video.

“Shine Your Light” was written by Maureen Ennis and Perry Chafe, produced by Alan Doyle and performed by the Ennis Sisters featuring Alex Richard of Bodh’aktran who added Francophone lyrics.

It is a song of hope, a hope that everyone who needs a helping hand can find one and be able to find a solution to their personal issues.

The recurring lyrics, done poignantly in the classic Ennis Sisters three-part harmonies, say “where there’s no light, shine your light … and there’ll be light” and request everyone to try to help someone, anyone, who may be experiencing difficulties.

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“If we come together as a community to support this, we can make a difference,” Karen Ennis said.

Health Minister John Haggie said everyone at one time or another has been impacted by mental health and addictions issues.

How to deal with those issues is complex, but he said through the work of the health department and Canadian Mental Health, these issues can be overcome.

“The important thing is a conversation. Silence puts up barriers. Silence and stigma are lethal,’’ Haggie said.

“Help is out there, help in many forms. You are not alone.

Haggie said he hopes everyone will have ready access to services when they are required.

He said he was going to borrow from one of his political colleagues in emphasizing his message with a quote to  hammer home the message that “it is OK not to be OK and find the help that is out there.”

“It’s far better to light a single candle than to rage against the darkness,” he said.

RNC Chief Joe Boland has been a strong advocate for mental health programs since he took over leadership of the department in July 2017.

He said there are so many people in the community who want to help and many do.

“There is so much talent here in Newfoundland and Labrador. We will be the change,’’ Boland said.

“In North America, Cape Spear is the first light that shines for people as they arrive, so why can’t we be that light for others,’’ he added

He said if people open up, keep talking, the hope is this will lead to real change, a change he said the RNC is committed to striving for as the justice system and health care continue to find ways to get the correct people involved in dealing with calls that are not criminal, but rather mental health issues.

“Instead of that being just a call, we can be going down the path of health care to exact change.”

Sister Diane Smyth of the Sisters of Mercy said there are mental health issues in all walks of life and in particular, she sees them at the Gathering Place, a venture that is well supported by the community, government, Sisters of Mercy and the Presentation Sisters.

She echoed Haggie’s quote with her own that said “if everyone lit a little candle, what a bright world this would be.”

“I would challenge all of us to be a lighted candle in our world,’’ she added.

The Ennis Sisters have a show scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 30 in support of the CMHA-NL at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John's.

This will be a 90 minute concert commencing at 7:30 p.m., including the launch of a video which supports the song.

The song and video will be made available to CMHA divisions and branches throughout Canada in an attempt to promote greater mental health awareness and to highlight the importance of supporting one another in maintaining good mental health and recovery from mental illness.

samuel.mcneish@thetelegram.com

Quick facts

The Canadian Mental Health Association, NL Division (CMHA-NL) and the Ennis Sisters

teamed up to help celebrate CMHA’s 100 years of community service with the launching of the music video, “Shine Your Light.”

The following is just some of the hundreds of people who made this video possible:

• Performed by The Ennis Sisters featuring Alex Richard of Bodh'aktan

• Written by Maureen Ennis and Perry Chafe

• With Aiden Flynn as the Man

• Directed by Ruth Lawrence

• Story concept by Krysta Rudofsky

• Cinematography by Shehab Illyas

• Song produced by Alan Doyle, mastered by Cory Tetford.

• Sponsored by the CMHA-NL, Parks Canada, Gill Ratcliffe Foundation, Jacob Puddister Memorial Foundation

• Produced by Blue Pinion Films

• The video was recorded in St. John’s  at Cape Spear National Historic Site

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