Overcoming adversity: The Courage To Come Back Awards open nominations for 2024

For those that manage to persevere against the odds, it can be enough of a reward to affirm oneself in the face of adversity. However, it’s also nice to be recognized every once in a while, and a story of perseverance can often demonstrate to others a greater perspective on what’s possible. Since 2017, the Courage To Come Back Awards have aimed to do just that, highlighting persevering community members that can inspire others, and nominations have just opened for their 2024 awards.

Presented by Wheaton Precious Metals and the Coast Mental Health Foundation, the awards are meant to showcase individuals tied to British Columbia who have demonstrated substantial perseverance in the face of adversity, and gone on to give back to their community or create change in meaningful ways. As of this week, nominations are now open for the next set of recipients until Jan. 19, 2024, with the awards ceremony taking place on May 23, 2024. Categories for the awards include Addiction, Medical, Mental Health, Physical Rehabilitation, and Youth.

Jodi Gray. | Photo courtesy of Courage to Come Back Awards.

A history of perseverance

Previous award winners have included people such as Jodi Gray. Gray had faced abuse and extreme poverty as a child, as well as anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders that affected her more and more as time went on. But after years of pain and trauma, Gray found a two-fold turning point: realizing and accepting that she was transgender, and finding a kind psychiatrist who was affirming and understanding of that fact when helping Gray turn a new leaf.

Since then, Gray has gone on to complete the Coast Mental Health Peer Support Training program and has succeeded in obtaining a grant on researching how to make mental health more inclusive and supportive for transgender people. She won the 2023 award in the Mental Health category, and currently works as a manager for a trans, two-spirit and gender-diverse housing program, in addition to volunteering with Coast Mental Health.

Another Courage To Come Back recipient some might recognize is Corey Hirsch, former Vancouver Canucks goaltender and Olympic silver medalist for the 1994 Canadian national hockey team. Hirsch also won the Mental Health award, in 2020, after sharing his journey grappling with undiagnosed OCD.

Corey Hirsch. | hoto courtesy of the Province of British Columbia.

At the peak of his career in the 90’s, Hirsch was playing alongside other Canadian greats such as Paul Kariya and Trevor Linden, but struggling deeply with his mental health due to undiagnosed and untreated OCD. Hisrch wrote a deeply poignant full-length editorial for The Players’ Tribune in 2016 detailing the enormous challenges he faced during that time. The editorial was widely read and widely discussed, and went on to encourage greater discussion about the importance of mental health within the industry.

This year, the awards look to showcase more of that courage. For Lorne Segal O.B.C., chair of the Courage To Come Back Awards, it’s a great opportunity to show appreciation for those who have been through so much, but whose story or perseverance is worthy of sharing in order to inspire others.

“As chair of the Courage To Come Back Awards, reading through the hundreds of nominations we receive every year is a moment I look forward to with great anticipation,” says Segal. “All of them are true journeys of bravery, resilience and strength in the face of adversity. I am grateful to those that have the courage to share their stories with us.”