By Sarah Moore, The Sudbury Star
Ray Auclair is on a mission to help survivors of male sexual abuse get the help they need to heal – and he’s using hockey to further his goal.
He is hosting a fundraising hockey game in Cochrane on Jan. 28 in order to collect the funds necessary to erect an awareness billboard in the town. It would feature the message “Break the Silence” as well as a toll-free 1-800 crisis line for survivors of sexual abuse to call.
The billboard would be the second of its kind in Northern Ontario, the first of which was erected by Auclair and Ray Lariviere (who are both survivors of childhood sexual abuse) back in June 2014.
That billboard is situated in the Maslack Supply lot, in front of WalMart, on Riverside Drive in Timmins.
“I want to get one for Cochrane, now,” said Auclair. “If I get enough money, I’ll put another one in Iroquois Falls and eventually, I want to cover the entire North: Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls, Hearst, maybe Kirkland Lake.”
Auclair said that male sexual abuse is something that is often talked about in hushed tones — if at all — and he is encouraging survivors to come forward and reach out to those who can help them move forward.
“When I broke the silence, I kept saying, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have because it was hard, it’s very hard,’” he recalled of exposing the details of his abuse some 40-plus years after it took place. “After some time, you start to feel better and realize. It’s not my fault. I was just a kid and the abuser was a predator. He controlled me. He was a man and you were just a kid.”
Auclair was abused by a local man in Timmins over an extended period when he was an adolescent.
After years of internalizing the trauma (and having numerous run-ins with his abuser), he decided he needed to come forward.
His attacker, who was a businessman in Timmins, committed suicide before he could answer to the charges eventually levied against him.
Auclair said that although he was able to move past the trauma, he wishes there were more publicized resources available to help him sooner – which is why he is so adamant on making another billboard.
“When I was a kid, I used to say, ‘I wish I had someone to help me,’” he recalled. “I kept it inside for 44 years and didn’t tell nobody and I would have loved to see some place where I could go for help. That’s what this billboard is all about. It has a toll-free number for people to call to help.”
To construct and install each billboard costs approximately $3,000.
All proceeds from the hockey tickets will go toward covering that cost, as will proceeds from the silent auction, chuck-a-puck and 50/50 draw set to be hosted at the game.
Auclair is also working with Theo Fleury, the former NHL hockey player who has become an advocate for male sexual abuse survivors, in the hopes that he may make a short speech at the event, as well.
Local Timbits hockey players and figure skaters will also entertain the crowd between the three-period hockey game, which will pit an Old Timers team from Cochrane and Timmins against one another.
“If you bring your camera there, you won’t have any blurry pictures,” Auclair joked of what to expect at the game. “It might be pretty good, though. The Cochrane guys have a good team and we have a good team so it should be a good game. The guys are all great.”
The game will take place on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane.
“I don’t care who wins, us or Cochrane,” Auclair added. “The one who wins is the guy who calls that number on the billboard and breaks the silence, then the healing process starts. That guy is the winner.”
Tickets are being sold for $5 each and can be purchased at Heaveners Variety, Lawson Laundromat and Y&S Pools, Spas and Graphics Inc. — all in Cochrane — or by calling Ray Auclair at 705-266-5900.
More information can also be found by visiting https://www.facebook.com/events/587761121413647/?active_tab=discussion.