Roland Van­dal: Giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity that saved him

Win­ner of the 2017 “Our Man­i­toba He­roes Award”

Say Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Pub­lic speaker, men­tal health ad­vo­cate and ac­claimed author Roland Van­dal has be­come well-known in Win­nipeg for his phil­an­thropic ac­tiv­i­ties, his com­mu­nity ser­vice and his sup­port of the box­ing com­mu­nity in Man­i­toba, Canada.

Now in his mid-for­ties, Van­dal has a life he once never thought pos­si­ble. He has worked hard and bat­tled Post-Trau­matic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to get to where he is to­day. He is a sur­vivor – a sur­vivor of a dif­fi­cult child­hood and of sex­ual abuse, which led him down a path that nearly took his life 16 years ago.

As a youth Van­dal was sex­u­ally abused by a trusted coach. Fol­low­ing the abuse he sought so­lace in drugs, sex, vi­o­lence and al­co­hol to evade the trau­matic mem­o­ries of years past, and at 30 years old he had hit rock bot­tom - he was suicidal and bro­ken. “I re­mem­ber I must have been out for hours and when I woke up (from an over­dose) I could hear peo­ple in the hall­ways, but I couldn’t move or cry out,” said Van­dal. “Some­thing spir­i­tual hap­pened to me that day. It’s hard to de­scribe but I be­came con­scious – all I could think of was that my son was go­ing to grow up with­out a father. I should have died that day but I didn’t. I knew in that mo­ment that I needed to change. I had to break the cy­cle, and I needed to help oth­ers.”

Van­dal has been sober now for 16 years and gives credit to his in­cred­i­ble sup­port sys­tem for help­ing him deal with his men­tal health con­di­tion. PTSD con­tin­ues to im­pact his life, but he has learned to man­age it so that it does not rule his life as it once did.

Go­ing from strug­gling ad­dict to com­mu­nity leader, Van­dal felt it was time to tell his story, break­ing the si­lence and aid­ing his healing. In March 2015 Van­dal’s book en­ti­tled Off the Ropes: My Story was re­leased Canada-wide at the same time as the CBC doc­u­men­tary “The Wounded Healer: The Roland Van­dal Story” aired across Man­i­toba. A year later, in May 2016, the doc­u­men­tary aired na­tion­ally on CBC.

The sky is the limit for this Métis en­tre­pre­neur and father of two as prepa­ra­tions be­gin to take shape for a movie de­pict­ing his life, based on his re­cent book Off the Ropes: My Story.

Van­dal has built his life around ad­vo­cat­ing for the Indige­nous com­mu­nity, ad­vo­cat­ing for men­tal health and giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity that saved him. His ex­pe­ri­ence has en­abled him to travel the world and pos­i­tively im­pact youth from all over the globe. He has pre­sented in over 700 venues in Canada and the United States.

Over the last decade Van­dal has been rec­og­nized for his con­tri­bu­tions to his com­mu­nity through var­i­ous nom­i­na­tions and ac­co­lades, in­clud­ing be­ing named one of the Top 100 Most Fas­ci­nat­ing Peo­ple in Man­i­toba in the Metro News­pa­per in 2014; nom­i­nated for the Com­mit­ment Award of Man­i­toba by the Man­i­toba Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion in 2014 and 2016; named one of the Top 100 Speak­ers and Com­mu­nity Lead­ers in Canada and the US in 2015 by the John C Maxwell Team in Or­lando, Florida and in the same year Van­dal was awarded the TJ’s Cham­pi­ons Award at the TJ’s Gift Foun­da­tion Gala din­ner. In 2016 Van­dal was named one of Man­i­toba’s Finest by the Kid­ney Foun­da­tion of Man­i­toba and most re­cently he was awarded the 2017 Cen­tre for Ad­dic­tion and Men­tal Health’s

Dif­fer­ence Mak­ers Award as one of the top 150 lead­ers in Canada for men­tal health aware­ness.

A trained jour­ney­man, Van­dal has fol­lowed his pas­sions over the years and has dab­bled in a few dif­fer­ent trades, from busi­ness owner and mo­ti­va­tional speaker to coach and ac­tor – all of which con­tinue to play sig­nif­i­cant roles in his life.

Van­dal cur­rently owns and op­er­ates a Level 5 Sta­bi­lized Youth Foster Treat­ment Home for chil­dren aging out of care or on ex­ten­sions of care, in ad­di­tion to oper­at­ing a treat­ment foster home. He also sits on the Board of Direc­tors for the Red Road Lodge Re­cov­ery Home­less Mis­sion. A box­ing en­thu­si­ast his whole life, Van­dal never let his past in­flu­ence his love for the sport. In ad­di­tion to coach­ing box­ing, Van­dal also com­peted in the sport as an am­a­teur ath­lete and later as a pro­fes­sional. He cur­rently co-owns and op­er­ates Stingers Box­ing Academy in the area of East Kil­do­nan in Win­nipeg with the goal of us­ing the power of sport to pos­i­tively af­fect and change lives.

The sky is the limit for this Métis en­tre­pre­neur and father of two as prepa­ra­tions be­gin to take shape for a movie de­pict­ing his life, based on his re­cent book Off the Ropes: My Story.

Visit www.break­ingth­echain.ca for more in­for­ma­tion on Roland Van­dal and his story.

I think of all the peo­ple who have helped me; now I be­lieve it’s my duty to pay it for­ward.

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