Cycling Across Canada for Veterans’ Mental Health

 

Nathaniel Borris joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2016 as a reservist as a means to finance his post-secondary education. Today, he works as a Social Worker and holds the position of Corporal in the Reserve. He also works on occasion with the Northshore Regiment in New-Brunswick.

Since childhood, participating in sports and physical activity has always helped him cope with stress and anxiety. Growing up, he was a lover of almost any sport. He played hockey, soccer, volley-ball, and participated in mountain biking downhill. Cycling across Canada had been a long term goal of his, only this time he saw an opportunity to do it for a great cause. 

“Fun fact, before taking the plane to Vancouver, I had never done more than 100 km of biking in a day, and now I ride on average 125 km daily.” 

He grew up in a very small community in a rural part of New-Brunswick. Days before the start of his adventure, he was researching organizations that helped support Canadian Veterans and stumbled upon True Patriot Love’s website. After reading and watching videos of testimonies from Veterans, he was sincerely touched by the variety of support the True Patriot Love offers and knew he wanted to collaborate.

“I liked that it targeted physical needs and mental health needs just the same, and that the support also extended to the families of the soldiers.”

As a new social worker, he spent the last couple of years as a student examining the social inequities in today’s society. Access to mental health care for men, specifically soldiers and Veterans is a subject very close to Nathanie’s heart as he’s witnessed military comrades of his struggle with this issue on more than one occasion.

“In my experience, mental health in the military is a taboo subject. A soldier is expected to be infallible, to walk straight despite anything.” 

When asked what it’s been like to cycle across Canada for this cause, Nathaniel couldn’t help but comment on how life changing it’s been for him.

“The grandiosity of this country is quite astounding, intimidating in truth. I am in awe in front of the natural beauty of the nation we are lucky to call home. From the Rockies in BC and Alberta to the lakes in Ontario and the open spaces in the Prairies, I have found something uniquely beautiful in every province. The people I meet are lovely and always happy to hear my story. 

Since I am Francophone, I am truly impressed at the number of French-speaking Canadians throughout all the provinces. As for the physical aspect of the adventure, it has really empowered me to push through the difficult times and be more resilient. To say it has made me come out of my comfort zone would be an understatement.”

As for his goals? To raise enough funds to help Veterans transition back into civilian life and to bring much needed awareness to the importance of mental health – especially for those in the military.