Letter from Canada

Michael Walsh, Executive Director of LifeRing Canada, writes:

We are a non-profit entity with a Board of Directors and are expecting to have charitable status this year. The website is being updated and will offer much more information about the board, LifeRing’s mandate in Canada and other neat gadgets before the end of the summer. […] The board is made up of a local Doctor/Addiction Specialist, two counselors/educators, a lawyer, CA, and two — soon to be three — LifeRing members. There has been a lot of outside help getting Board Governance together and setting a strategy for the future. We have help with graphic design, marketing and event-planning. Everyone is volunteering their time. There have been some setbacks with some tasks not being fulfilled or are being revised and it takes time to put this together.

Locally, LifeRing members have stepped forward in a HUGE way and it is really wonderful. We have a good base of Convenors who facilitate, but also jump forward when called upon to attend events. Professionally, I am pleasantly astounded by the support offered toward LifeRing and even though we only have six groups right now, the legwork is paying off for the future, here and beyond. One of our members has talked about starting a telephone or Skype meeting, so that we can reach others where there are no groups. Perhaps we can spawn something there and if others in Canada are interested in trying it let us know.

LifeRing USA, as wonderful and supportive as they are and will continue to be, are not in Canada. They cannot possibly do for Canada what they have done in the USA. We need to have representation here in the form of a website, collateral material, social-networking site, a central office and those in any cities to act as representatives for LifeRing and do their part to shake things up. Garry in Ontario is doing just that. Emulating what the USA has done, is the right way to go and it is easy, but it is proving to be taking more time than I thought and I want to make sure we have our ducks in a row, so that we can act like a central office and support convenors, members and groups fully.

The groundwork is almost done and Victoria is where we will begin to spawn more meetings and spread the word up island, over on the mainland and across the country. We do need the support of others in Canada to help do this, so as I have reached outside of Victoria before, I am reaching out again to ask for your help in getting us off the ground. We are making history here!!

In order to do this we will need some kind of funding to: cover fixed costs (which are minimal), attend conferences to set-up a trade tables, print literature in Canada to lower the cost for the end-user by avoiding cross-border shipping/duty and exchange rate costs, ship starter-kits from Victoria and pay for people like Marty Nicolaus to come up and talk in Victoria. Right now I heard one R[ecovery] B[y] C[hoice] Workbook costs $12 to ship to Canada and with the exchange rate fluctuation, one book was landing here at a cost of $36-$39 Canadian. There will be other costs as we go along and basket revenues will never be enough and we don’t even need to use that money when there is other funding possibilities.

Marty Nicolaus has been funded to come up here the last week of September 2010 for three and a half days. We have many things planned including a lecture at U[niversity of] VIC[toria], book signing at Chapters, meeting a Member of Parliament and the head of M[ental] H[ealth and] A[ddiction] S[services] at V[ancouver] I[sland] H[ealth] A[authority], Psychiatric Grand Rounds at EMP and of course visiting a LifeRing meeting in action. The local TV station ‘A’ Vancouver Island will be producing a P[ublic] S[service] A[nnouncement] on LifeRing this September in the community and run it for 30 days at their cost of over $100K (yes, $100K). This PSA will be able to be used on the Canadian website and for promotional purposes as we start to reach out beyond Victoria. There is a major fund-raising event called Dry Wit which we are planning for the end of November 2010 here in Victoria during National Addiction Awareness Week and there will be more news about that soon. We could never do any of this without LifeRing Canada being set-up the way it is right now. We would not be credible and people would not support something like this with no Canadian ties. An example of a creative idea I had was to raise a few bucks so that one person a week would be given a RBC Workbook somewhere in Canada. There are endless possibilities, just like there are endless dollars out there if one looks and knocks.

Not long after I started with LifeRing, I reached out to other Convenors to stir up some interest in getting something going in Canada. Locally we have been inundated with help and Garry in Ontario has reached out to give us a hand and will join the board soon. I am not going to wait 10 years to get 20 meetings started in Canada, so we in Victoria are going to create this group called LifeRing Canada and take it across the country. Again, I ask for your help in doing this.

Negative news of the Charity Directorate in Canada has been a challenge for some in the past, but every case is different. As long as things are accountable (which they are and will continue to be) then there will not be a problem. There will be challenges with many things in life and I am just not going to give up on something because a few have a hard time or have been burned. We have a Chartered Accountant assisting us with reporting and a wonderful organization called www.queenswoodconsulting.com assisting with Board Governance and Strategy. This is not a fly-by-night operation here. There is a lot of thought being put into this.

LifeRing Canada is not going out on it’s own. Just like multi-national organizations, LifeRing USA can and should have satellite offices and representation, as it can only increase their visibility. We are very connected to LifeRing USA. I have been to two Congresses and will be attending next year in SF. I am very committed to helping LifeRing Canada and USA grow and we can benefit from each other as we move this forward and WORK TOGETHER. I am not always active on here, because I am quite busy in Victoria and find it challenging keeping up with the Jones’s. I can assure you that major work is being done here and if you talk to anyone involved in LifeRing in Victoria, I am sure they will tell you we are making progress.

[…] If  you are interested to know more about what we are doing, please follow us at www.liferingcanada.org or on the Canadian Ning site or send me an e-mail and I will be very happy to share any information with you. I do communicate with the new Executive Director of LifeRing Craig Whalley, Marty Nicolaus and board members, because it is hugely important to me and we have a mutual level of respect for what we are trying to achieve. We are all in this together and we are making history in this world. When I am gone I hope there are 200 groups in Canada!

Michael Walsh
Executive Director
LifeRing Secular Recovery (Society Canada)


  1. Pamela on February 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm


    Son requested I check for schedule of meetings in Victoria, BC – extensive search has not brought up such a thing, news about extra meeting places but no list of meetings for each day of the week. I suggest this is extremely important and can be off-putting if one can’t find such a schedule after 10 minutes. If there is one it sure is hard to find.

    Thanks for your attention. Now I am going to try to search out a contact phone number!


    • Craig W on February 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      I’m sorry you had a hard time finding the information you wanted. It’s there, but not the easiest thing to find, apparently. We’re working on a re-design of parts of the website to improve the ease of navigation, but we’re all volunteers here and it’s not an easy process. As it happens, the answer to your specific question is most easily found at a separate, but closely related website: liferingcanada.org. Or you can call (1-800-811-4142) or write (service@lifering.org) our office.
      — Craig