Manitoba

'I'm free': Actor Mackenzie Phillips among guests at festival celebrating sobriety, fighting addiction stigma

Anyone can experience addiction, and everyone can find their way to recovery. That's what the organizers of Recovery Day Winnipeg — a free, day-long festival kicking off Saturday morning at The Forks — want the public to understand.

Recovery Day Winnipeg includes kids zone, all-day entertainment, resource booths, speakers, market

Mackenzie Phillips is an actress, advocate and survivor of substance abuse. She's one of the guest speakers at Recovery Day Winnipeg. (Submitted by Recovery Day Winnipeg)

Anyone can experience addiction, and everyone can find their way to recovery. 

That's what the organizers of a Winnipeg festival taking place at The Forks on Saturday want the public to understand.

Recovery Day Winnipeg is a free, day-long event that aims to celebrate sobriety and reduce the stigma of addiction in Manitoba.

It includes a kids zone, all-day entertainment, resource booths, guest speakers, food vendors and a market.

Guest speakers include Canadian rapper Madchild and actor Mackenzie Phillips, who has recently appeared in the hit Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.

Phillips — who began acting at age 12 in the film American Graffiti and gained fame for appearing in the '70s sitcom One Day At a Time — has written two memoirs about her struggles with substance abuse.

She now says she wants to share that story of recovery with others.

"It's not difficult to talk about it because I'm free," she told Nadia Kidwai, host of CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show

"I feel a sense of freedom from the past, so when I talk about it, I'm not reliving it, I'm recounting it."

Greta Waples, one of the organizers of the event, spoke to CBC Manitoba's Ismaila Alfa on Up to Speed on Friday, her two-year sobriety anniversary.

"I was essentially just getting through the day, doing what I had to do to get that next fix," she recalled.

"I was barely living, barely surviving."

But Waples's story didn't end there. She went to trauma rehab, developed positive relationships, found a supportive community and managed to claw her way out of addiction.

"There was too much to lose as I kept moving forward," she said.

Greta Waples is one of the organizers of Recovery Day Winnipeg. She's been in recovery for two years. (Recovery Day Winnipeg/Facebook)

Ian Rabb, a board member with Aurora Recovery Centre, is also a recovering addict.

He wants Manitobans to know addiction isn't a moral failing, and it's not uncommon. 

"None of them grew up saying they wanted to be a drug addict. No one grew up saying they wanted to be an alcoholic. We look at this as a moral problem versus a health problem," he said.

"This disease affects so many families. You can't shake a family tree without one of us falling out."

Rabb hopes people struggling with addictions who come to the festival will see what recovery looks like.

"We want to show people that this way of life is a beautiful way to live," he said.

The opening ceremony for the festival starts at 11 a.m. at the main stage.