Visit with Trudeau brings out the haters for Whitby paddleboarder and mental health advocate

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Published March 30, 2023 at 9:56 am

Mike Shoreman with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Whitby MP Ryan Turnbull (and a can of a Great Lakes Brewing pale ale brewed in honour of Shoreman's lake crossings)

Mike Shoreman, the first person with disabilities to cross all five Great Lakes on a paddleboard and a champion for mental health issues, has been attacked online after he was honoured, along with his team, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday afternoon on Parliament Hill.

Shoreman, a former professional paddleboarder who was stricken with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome in 2018 – a neurological condition which paralyzed and collapsed the right side of his face and dealt him serious mobility, vision, speech, taste and hearing problems – was feted by Trudeau in his office and given a tour of the House of Commons.

But after posting the pictures – and after a story posted on this site (Youth mental health champion honoured by PM) and others, Shoreman was bombarded with “hate and vitriol” from internet trolls with a political axe to grind.

“The ugliness of the political landscape is disgusting,” said the Whitby paddleboarder, who said he received support from all levels of government and all political stripes during his summer-long journey last year which raised more than $60,000 for Jack.org, a Canadian charity working to train and empower young leaders to revolutionize how mental health is viewed and treated. “To be invited to meet the Prime Minister … and to have the efforts of my team recognized is an honour.”

The online attacks and private messages of hate are hard on Shoreman, who said navigating the stress of the journey last summer was difficult enough. “My entire team made sacrifices with their time and with their families because they believed in the cause,” he said. “At times I broke down. I cried for two months, almost every day, from the stress I felt.”

Shoreman dealt with mental health issues after his diagnosis five years ago, starting with a message by his doctors to give up any dreams of paddleboarding again, but after battling his own inner demons and re-training his brain to walk again he got back on a paddleboard. After one failed attempt at crossing Lake Ontario in 2021 Shoreman not only crossed Lake Ontario a year later but all five Great Lakes.

All in aid of youth and their mental health and Shorman has since become a major advocate for the need for more mental health resources for kids in crisis.

“The mental health of Canadians, especially young Canadians, who are struggling is my number one priority. Lead and act with compassion,” he said. “Online bullying is not the answer. Canadian kids deserve better. We all do.”

Shoreman, who was a guest at Wednesday;s Conn Smythe Easter Seals dinner, also had a sweet message for his online haters. “Have a butter tart.”

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