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Carrying the Torch

Pan Am Torch

By Dr. Catherine Zahn, President & CEO of CAMH

Coming into the CAMH grounds bearing the Pan Am Torch was a moving experience for me.  The crowd lining the entryway; our own Dr. David Goldbloom emceeing the event; the Archway Singers behind him on the stage – it was overwhelming. Those of you who were in attendance know that I could barely speak! I think it was the hopeful symbolism of lighting the torch, protecting it on its journey and bringing that emblem of hope right into CAMH that moved me so profoundly.

Ten years ago CAMH would not have been considered a destination for such a public event. This is just one more piece of evidence that our work is making a difference; evidence that work to advance the social cause of mental health is creating positive change. The change feels too slow to most of us, but on July 9th it felt tangible and real. I sensed that the event energized everyone present and it certainly inspired me to work hard to keep the promises CAMH makes to those we serve.

Recently, I saw media coverage from Olympic champion kayaker Adam van Koeverden. He called for Torontonians to resist knee-jerk complaints about the inconveniences of a major civic event like the Pan Am Games. He chooses to focus on the benefits beyond sport that accrue to the host community. On the practical side, major games provide deadlines that push communities to complete infrastructure and event venues. On the ideological side, they may, as in the Beijing and Sochi Olympics, shine a light on equity and human rights records of their host.

I’m sure the Pan Am Torch event on Thursday caused a traffic jam. On the other hand, we saw – up close and personal – the joy of participation, not only in the run, but also in the city building and social change!


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