Spotlight: Addictions Awareness Advocate
Jamie Courtorielle

Interview by Leslie Robinson

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Jamie Courtorielle has held all kinds of titles and resisted even more labels. When we first met in 2010 through our connections to iHuman Youth Society, he was using the arts, along with his undeniable wit and charisma, to raise awareness about issues like substance abuse, racial profiling, and incarceration. Jamie’s story contributes to the third SDG — to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being — by way of example. Knowing the stark opposite of “well-being,” he has re-purposed his struggle to inspire greater awareness about addictions and recovery. When I caught up with him at the Stan Daniels Healing Lodge — a federal corrections centre focused on Aboriginal culture and spirituality — he began by drawing a distinction between the Jamie “on paper” and the “real Jamie.”

Who is “the real” Jamie Courtorielle?

The real Jamie tries to make a difference with every opportunity presented to him. He finds the silver lining in each and every negative experience; he shines with continuous optimism. He’s charismatic, a dreamer, and, humbly put, an alcoholic and drug addict who’s clean and sober today.

What’s your proudest achievement?

In 2012, I cycled across Canada with Riding4Mentors to raise awareness about the systemic problems of drug and alcohol addictions — problems that typically go hand-in-hand with youth “street-life” subcultures. I aspired to make a difference in each city by speaking to marginalized youth, and raising awareness about the facilities and resources that provide support for the wellbeing of this demographic.

“The acronym that I live by is simple, yet difficult to achieve: H.O.P.E. — Helping Other People Escalate.”

What are the words that you live by?

The acronym that I live by is simple, yet difficult to achieve: H.O.P.E. — Helping Other People Escalate. I find that wherever circumstances take me, my energy and creativity is at full throttle when it comes to assisting others achieve their goals, no matter how big or small.

Does spirituality support your well-being?

I must give thanks where it is due: the Stan Daniels Healing Lodge has provided the essentials I needed to get in touch with my Aboriginal culture. Today, I have a relationship with my Creator, who I pray to and thank regularly. Spirituality connects me to my spirit helpers, who guide me on a daily basis. Through my culture I have found balance, meaning, and value. 

What advice can you give about recovery?

Recovery is a lifelong journey — one must walk the road one day at a time. I encourage anyone in recovery to follow the advice of getting a sponsor, finding a home group, and getting involved with service work. But most importantly, once you find what keeps you sober, never stop doing that.

How do you see the relationship between self-care and care for others?

For me, what keeps me sober is helping other individuals. However, it is crucially important to maintain self-care in the mind, body, and spirit. Without self-care, I ain’t any help to anyone else, let alone myself.