Local event creates safe haven for people who suffer chronic illnesses or pain in Merritt. 

Merrittonians are invited to join ‘Healing Connections’, an event that aims to serve as an opportunity for individuals living with chronic illnesses or pain to share their experiences, offer mutual support and build a sense of community.

In addition to networking and mingling, the event will also promote resources and presentations, caregiver and grieving supports, creative workshops and refreshments. The free event will take place at Nicola Valley Arts Centre, on Saturday, June 8, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Marius Auer, organizer of ‘Healing Connections’, said that he came up with the idea after he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

“Going through the journey of like treatment and accepting that and trying to find the resources locally here, I just noticed that there wasn’t a lot, especially in-person support,” he added. “I thought it would be nice to have something locally for everyone to access.”

Auer also highlighted the importance of talking about chronic illnesses and pain.

“I think it affects pretty much everyone directly or indirectly. Multiple members of my family have chronic illnesses or chronic pain as part of their life and I know a lot of people in the community do too and it’s something we need to address,” he said.

According to Auer, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding chronic illnesses and pain.

“I think it’s something that a lot of people just get told, you kind of have to deal with it,” he explained. “I think talking about it and being able to acknowledge and say ‘yeah, this is a big part of my life and I need help with it’, I think that’s important.”

He hopes the event inspires ongoing support and resilience within the community.

“I just hope people feel supported and then I guess understood in a way that they know that there’s connections here locally,” Auer added. “I would love this to be the launching point for people of some sort of like a regular support group.”