By Stan Ashbee
Westwind Weekly News
A new thought-provoking and must-see documentary entitled “Breaking Loneliness” will be available on CBC Gem tomorrow and will be airing on CBC TV in Alberta this Saturday.
Producer, director and writer Brandy Yanchyk from Brandy Y Productions Inc. noted “Breaking Loneliness” is a documentary about people finding ways to escape loneliness and social isolation.
“I think it’s really important people are not embarrassed to admit they are lonely. I think there’s a taboo we don’t want to say we’re lonely,” Yanchyk said, adding these days we are not connecting like generations past. Yanchyk said we’re building fences around yards in communities, we sit at our computers, and we spend a lot of our time working.
“Our society is very isolated. It is not as community-centred as it used to be.”
So, Yanchyk said, people don’t have to be lonely and embarrassed and they can create their own community.
According to Yanchyk, loneliness is a social epidemic impacting all age groups around the world. “Although most of us are connected on social media, we have never felt more alone. Many of us find ourselves isolated from our communities and feeling lonely,” it was stated in a recent media release.
In this new documentary, Yanchyk follows four people – John Chief Moon, Jace Laing-Schroeder, Tom Greyson and Julie Kraychy – who have worked to overcome their own loneliness and social isolation and are now helping others to battle theirs.
“I’ve been making films for CBC for a while and the topic of loneliness has been something that has really bothered me. I have experienced it myself and I also lost somebody really close to me through suicide, who I knew was lonely. It just kept being a recurring theme in my life with people I knew. I was eager to do a story,” Yanchyk explained, adding from other areas of the world and from news reports it was stated loneliness can affect a person’s physical health.
Yanchyk reached out to different organizations in Edmonton and Calgary looking for people who had been lonely and had worked through their own loneliness and have helped other people. “I ended up having a really unique group of people I was able to focus on.”
“You can feel lonely in a room full of people,” is one of the quotes from Laing-Schroeder in the film. “I think a lot of us can relate to that,” Yanchyk said. The documentary was filmed in Edmonton, Calgary and on the Blood Reserve in southern Alberta.
Laing-Schroeder is a 2SLGBTQ+ liaison and a peer support worker for the Canadian Mental Health Association in Calgary. Laing-Schroeder identifies as a trans, non-binary person and uses the pronouns “they,” “them,” and “theirs,” and works at the CMHA’s Recovery College and Welcome Centre supporting people and helping them connect to their community.
Chief Moon is an Indigenous peer support worker with the CMHA in Calgary. Chief Moon is from the Blood Reserve and is Blackfoot First Nations and is considered an “elder-in-training” and helps people with their loneliness and social isolation by connecting them with First Nations’ culture.
Greyson is a senior living in Edmonton. After his wife died, Greyson felt very lonely and isolated and decided to help himself by helping others through volunteerism. Greyson volunteers with the organization Drive Happiness – driving other seniors around who have limited income, mobility and other health-related issues.
Kraychy is a senior who teaches other seniors English as a Second Language in Edmonton. Kraychy experienced depression, loneliness and social isolation after her husband died and she experienced financial problems.
Yanchyk believes there will be two things that will happen after Canadians watch the documentary. “Firstly, people will look at their own lives and see how they feel and recognize if they feel loneliness and maybe start thinking about what they can do to break out of that.”
“They might also see other people are isolated. Maybe a senior in their life who lives alone and doesn’t have anybody. Maybe they’ll just pick up a phone and call somebody who they know is lonely and really start making time to spend time talking to people and spending energy on people who are isolated and lonely they care about” added Yanchyk.
After the film airs, Yanchyk said the DVD will be sold in libraries and there will be an opportunity for schools and organizations to request screenings of the documentary.
There will be a free screening of “Breaking Loneliness” in Calgary Oct. 2 from 6-8 p.m. at the Welcome Centre at CMHA.
DOCUMENTARY SHINES LIGHT: Yanchyk with John Chief Moon on the Blood Reserve in southern Alberta.