A live wrestling demonstration making fun of people with mental health issues upset some moviegoers at a Halifax event Sunday.
Krista Lettues of Hammonds Plains had come out of a movie at Empire Theatre in Bayers Lake just after 6 p.m. when she happened upon a performance meant to excite fans for the cinema's live screening of Wrestlemania.
"The wrestler from New Brunswick said, 'This all you have, Nova Scotia? A retard from the N.S. Hospital?'" Lettues told CBC News.
"He came out and he was wearing this blue institutional uniform, kind of like pajamas. He was all hunched over and his hair was messed up and wild and he looked very unhealthy."
It was a wrestler who uses the stage name Randy Relapse.
"He was also carrying a teddy bear and he goes into the ring and I thought, 'Gee, this is not good, this sends a really horrible message about people who have mental illness," Lettues said.
Ultimate Championship Wrestling
The Nova Scotia Hospital is a psychiatric hospital in Dartmouth. A website for the Halifax-based Ultimate Championship Wrestling promotes Randy Relapse as "extremely popular and equally unstable."
A spokesman for Empire Theatres said it is embarrassed by what happened. Dean Leland said it has severed its ties with the wrestling organization.
"We're very, very, apologetic not only to the guests who witnessed the event, but also to all the people in Nova Scotia and elsewhere who are affected by mental illness," he said.
The Canadian Mental Health Association said it was disappointed by the depiction.
"What we need to do be doing it talking about good mental health, being supportive in our communities and helping one another, not continuing to stigmatize people," Gail Gardiner said.
The wrestling promoter who staged the event said he would hire Randy Relapse again because he is always popular with fans.