Imagine Festival

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
John Lennon

I am not sure if Lennon had specifically thought of people with mental health challenges when he wrote the lyrics to Imagine, but I think the spirit of his message applies to us all. And it is that vision that inspired the Imagine Festival back in 2009. After starting as a film festival, Imagine expanded to other activities and collaborations with other community stakeholders.

This year our signature event is a sold-out concert featuring Juno Award Winning artist Colin James and an opening presentation by noted radio host Alan Cross at the Regent Theatre in Oshawa, a historic 600 seat venue operated by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).

The Imagine Festival kicked off October 2 with a presentation in collaboration with Abilities Centre.  Kevin Pearce, at one time was one of the best snowboarders in the world battling head to head with fellow US competitor Shaun White. His professional career came to an end while training for the Olympic games in Vancouver when he hit his head on a half-pipe suffering severe brain trauma.

His story was captured in the Emmy-award winning documentary The Crash Reel.  Kevin, now an advocate for brain safety and health as well as Down syndrome, presented his story to 250 students from Whitby Shores and Williamsburg Public Schools. Kevin was blown away by the enthusiasm of the students who peppered him with questions and swarmed for an autograph. His message to Love Your Brain was well received by all.

We have showcased a number of celebrities over the years including, Emmy-award winning actor Joe Pantoliano, musicians Chantal Kreviazuk, Raine Maida, Matt Good, Stephen Page and Serena Ryder.

Ontario Shores is also screening its adolescent mental health documentary Three Voices (October 8 – two screenings, 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.) and video from last year’s Imagine Concert with Serena Ryder (October 21 at 11:00 a.m.) Those presentations take place in the lecture theatre and are open to patients, staff and community.