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St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is hosting the 14th annual candlelight vigil in the Schizophrenia Courtyard of the West 5th Campus on Oct. 2. The event, a non-religious ritual to memorialize people who have died due to a mental illness or addiction, is one of the many ways the hospital acknowledges Mental Illness Awareness Week.

“This has been a meaningful event not only for St. Joe’s Mental Health and Addiction Services, but as well for our wider community,” said Janet Young, Chaplin, Spiritual Care Department. “It’s an inspiring evening to commemorate those who have been affected by, are living with or have lost someone to mental illness, while also promoting that healing is possible.”

The event has evolved over the years. Young remembers the first vigil, in 2004, when the wind blew out the candles.

“We rented a tent after that,” she said. Young also remembers a rainy year and people’s desire to go on with the vigil.

“Everyone waited inside and then ran out to the tent just as we started. Meanwhile, the choir providing music ran from the taxi to sing to us.”

That people are willing to brave the elements to take part is a testament to people’s desire to remember their loved ones.

 “There have been so many moving instances of people lighting candles and sharing stories of the people they have lost,” Young said.

Chances are, you know someone with a mental illness or you yourself are affected. The candlelight vigil helps bring mental illness out of the darkness. It’s a chance to acknowledge and remember our past, reflect on our present and renew our commitment to advocate for a better future.

The event begins with the reading of statements of remembrance and then lighting a candle for each one. Each of the readings is presented by different facets of our hospital including staff and clients, as well as those from associated community groups.

Personal stories were also shared of recovery and hope. Speakers at the event shared their stories about how mental illness has affected them, their path to recovery, and how they found help and hope.

 The event closed with a "Blessing of Hope".

May the seed of hope be always present in our midst,

May it take root and grow, spreading wide branches to embrace the sick and the lonely, the hurt and despairing of our community.

May we together have the strength and courage to carry it forth in our hearts to share with all the world.


If you’d like to get involved next year, please contact, Janet Young Chaplin, Spiritual Care Department at 905.522.1155 ext. 35510 or


If you, or a loved one is seeking help or support, call/click the resources below:


Youth Wellness Centre
905-522-1155 ext. 31725

COAST (Crisis Outreach and Support Team)

Barrett Centre

Contact Hamilton

Salvation Army Suicide Crisis Line

Telecare Burlington

Distress Centre of Hamilton

Kids Help Phone

Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention

Are You in Crisis?

Help is available. If you are in Hamilton:

  • Go to the Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton Charlton Campus and tell the doctor if you are having thoughts of suicide.
  • Call the Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) at 905-972-8338 or online at
  • Call the Salvation Army Crisis Line at 1-855-294-HOPE or online at
  • In an emergency, call  9-1-1.

Across Canada, you can find a crisis centre

Sharing Hope & Resiliency

There are many on-line websites with information and support about suicide prevention.  The websites listed here can guide you to many more resources. Please note that these links are provided for information purposes only and St. Joe’s is not responsible for their content.


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