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Victoria’s Courtnall brothers launch society to fund grassroots mental health programs

Funding focuses on substance use, suicide prevention, community integration and children and youth

A trio of well-known philanthropic brothers throw their weight behind grassroots mental health initiatives in Greater Victoria and across Canada with a new society.

Geoff and Russ Courtnall, both former NHLers, and youngest brother Bruce have a legacy of helping. The trio funded the Archie Courtnall Centre for emergency psychiatric care at Royal Jubilee Hospital. The centre is named for their father, who died by suicide in 1978, and was funded by a series of high profile charity golf tournaments in the early 2000s.

“The golf tournaments were great, well received and did very well in raising the appropriate funds to look after the Archie Courtnall Centre and the mental health unit at the Jubilee,” Bruce said.

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Since that time, friends and associates have hounded them for ways to do more, Geoff and Bruce said during the official launch in Victoria Dec. 16 of the Courtnall Society of Mental Health. Russ was rooting from Los Angeles, guests were assured.

The society follows a four-pillar approach for funding – substance use, suicide prevention, community integration and children and youth, Bruce said.

Under the children and youth pillar, the society recently funded the Victoria-based Buddy Check For Jesse, an organization Lindsay Goulet credits with helping her son in his mental health journey. It was created by Dr. Stu Gershman, who lost his son, Jesse, to suicide in October 2014.

Goulet’s son Owen, 13, shared how his story of mental health changed from days filled with anxiety to a person with anxiety and tools to help, such as counselling and medication.

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In a Q&A format with mom to keep the teen comfortable, she asked: Why is it important to share your story?

“So people around the world know it’s OK to struggle and feel bad, and they may take confidence from my story to reach out for help, which could cause a chain reaction where even more people reach out for help,” Owen answered.

The Courtnall society will provide grants to grassroots mental health organizations nationwide.

Anyone in need of mental health support now can call B.C.’s 24/7 crisis line at 310-6789.

If you or someone you know is struggling, call the provincial suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-suicide (1-800-784-2433), or visit to find local mental health and crisis resources.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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