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Free pet treats at Maple Ridge park marks a day of kindness in honour of Trent Gibney

Act of kindness meant to spark conversation about mental health
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Trent Edward Gibney. (Special to The News)

WARNING: This story discusses suicide.

Tupperware bins filled with free dog treats and toys greeted people at the entrance to Horseman’s Park recently for an act of kindness campaign marking the second anniversary of the death of Kara Warren’s brother.

Kara remembered her older brother Trent Edward Gibney as a story teller, artistic, someone who enjoyed cooking, passionate, and an animal lover.

But he struggled with his mental health and took his own life on Sept. 8, 2021 at the age of 38.

For the second year in a row his family have put together the free boxes of dog treats and placed them at parks throughout Maple Ridge and Mission on the anniversary of his death – not only to honour his memory, but to bring awareness that September is suicide awareness month.

“On the anniversary of his passing, we have decided to honour his memory by spreading kindness to who he loved most: the four legged friends in our lives. Trent was rarely seen without his faithful feline companion, Spartacus,” read a sign by each bin.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge family using kindness to destigmatize mental health in honour of loved one

Kara told The News that they were able to double last year’s efforts and placed baskets at the Albion dog park, Kanaka Creek trail, Horseman Park, Maple Ridge dikes, Bonson Landing, and both Heritage Park and Griner Park in Mission.

The bins awere filled with edible treats for cats and dogs, in addition to pet toys, and teal and purple ribbons with a semicolon, representing suicide awareness, with the semicolon symbolizing that the story isn’t over.

“When a family member commits suicide the family is left with questions and an overwhelming sense of guilt that they missed something, or could have done something differently. By bringing awareness to the subject we are hoping to stimulate conversations that could possibly prevent another family from experiencing the same pain,” explained Lorna Gibney, Trent’s mother, about their campaign.

Kylie Jordan, another of Trent’s sisters, said it has been amazing to honour her brother’s memory in this way and that she hopes people and their pets have enjoyed the treats as much as she has enjoyed being part of keeping Trent’s memory alive.

And Tanya Jordan, another of his sisters, noted how heartwarming it is to know how many furry pets enjoyed a treat from their baskets.

“When we started this in 2022 it was a way for our families to remember and honor a man who struggled a long time often in silence,” said Tanya.

“He was great at disguising his despair, making it very hard to know how deeply he was hurting. I think the most important thing to do each and every day is pay attention to those around you; check in a little more, because contrary to what many think, a suicidal individual doesn’t always walk around looking sad,” she said, adding that they hope people can start conversations so maybe another family can be spared the pain and loss that her family has suffered.

The sign on the pet treat baskets asked people to consider being an ally in spreading awareness for the cause by checking with friends who might struggle with their mental health, in addition to supporting the Canadian Assocation for Suicide Prevention, or looking for other ways to reduce the stigma around mental health in their own life.

“We hope your pets enjoy these gifts. Trent would have loved their joy,” it read.

RELATED: Better suicide prevention needed for B.C. youth, group says

For information about resources and supports on suicide prevention or to find a 24 hour crisis centre go to suicideprevention.ca.

If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

Other resources include: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at Toll free: 1-833-456-4566. You can also text 45645 or visit the online chat service at crisisservicescanada.ca.

Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance use.



Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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