Séan McCann set to headline 10th HOPE Forum

Former member of Great Big Sea looking to promote sobriety and self-improvement through song

Séan McCann has seen a lot during his storied music career that’s spanned several decades, but he’s never visited Thompson.

Even after touring the country as a member of the Newfoundland folk rock group Great Big Sea from 1993 to 2013, the 51-year-old singer-songwriter still hasn’t stepped foot in the Hub of the North.

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However, that’s about to change on April 3, when McCann will take over the Letkemann Theatre for the HOPE North Suicide Prevention Committee’s 10th annual HOPE Forum.

“I’m very happy to be coming,” McCann told the Thompson Citizen March 27. “Every new place to me is a new beginning and I can’t wait to get there.”

McCann went onto say that his April 3 performance will be more in line with his post-Great Big Sea career, where he’s been confronting personal demons in his music and at public speaking gigs.

After he officially left the band in 2013, McCann started talking more openly about the sexual abuse he experienced as a teenager and his years living as a high-functioning alcoholic 

“I’ve been in recovery for almost nine years now and I believe that music has helped me get there,” he said. “It’s always been a big part of my life, and I like to involve myself with events like this, events that are trying to change people’s lives and have a positive impact.”

For the last decade, Thompson’s HOPE Forum has served as a venue to spread awareness for mental health issues in Northern Manitoba through networking opportunities, training events and high-profile guest speakers that can help put these experiences into a broader context.

Over the years, this guest list has included speakers like NHL all-star Theo Fleury, musician Robb Nash and six-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes

“We really thought that Séan would be a great fit,” said HOPE North Committee member Liz Lychuk. “He’s experienced addictions issues himself, he has experienced abuse, definitely a history of trauma, and I thought that people would definitely relate to him and understand that he’s got a real message of hope.”

McCann said the upcoming show will feature a mix of music and storytelling, with a set list that can change depending on the mood of the crowd.

“I don’t have a script or any kind of PowerPoint presentation. I only have my story,” he said. “My first job when I show up is to look at the audience and try to discern what I’m there for.”

More than anything, McCann hopes that people walk away from this show with the understanding that they are capable of overcoming the same kind of trauma he went through in his life. 

“I know the enemy well: despair, anger, darkness, pain, shame,” he said. “All those things we can overcome with hope, truth and love.”

McCann is set to hit the stage at the Letkemann Theatre at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

The 2019 HOPE Forum runs April 1−4, and will feature a variety of events, speaking engagements and training sessions throughout.

To find out more about this year’s festivities, please call the HOPE North Recovery Centre for Youth at 204-778-9977 or visit their official Facebook page.

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