An hour before her wedding, this advocate was demonstrating for better mental health care
Kristi Allan took time on her wedding day to keep a different vow
Kristi Allan has stood outside the Waterford Hospital in St. John's every Saturday for nearly a year to advocate for better mental health services. This Saturday was no different — except for the fact it was her wedding day.
"I said I was going to do it every single weekend," Allan told CBC's On The Go, ahead of the big day.
"I told myself that it was a long-term issue and I was going to do it rain or shine, no matter what."
Standing in a white dress with garbage bags draped over her and a rain bonnet tied securely on top of her curled hair, Allan held up a sign — "Long-term Mental Health Care Needs to Be More Accessible," a motto she hoists every week — just one hour before tying the knot.
This is your 50th weekly reminder that long-term mental healthcare needs to be more accessible. <a href="https://t.co/22dmfncn5H">pic.twitter.com/22dmfncn5H</a>—@mynlcorner
Even though getting married is one of the biggest days of her life, Allan said, she could not break the promise she made last December when she started standing outside the hospital.
She's asking people to write to their local House of Assembly member. She has started a donation page with proceeds going toward the Jacob Puddister Memorial Foundation, which offers free counselling to people age 12 through 35.
She says the foundation should not even have to exist.
"I don't think it's the non-profit's responsibility to offer mental health care. I think, quite frankly, that is ridiculous. I am very grateful for it, but it's not OK," she said.
"They do amazing work and I thank them for that; however, if the government thinks that something is being fulfilled by a non-profit then they likely won't offer that."
Allan, who has been open with her own mental health struggles, said she has been hearing more discussions lately in the House of Assembly regarding mental health but wants people to keep the pressure up.
"We have to let them know that we care about it and that's what we want," she said.
Kaiden Dalley was one of about two dozen supporters who were standing outside the Waterford Hospital on Saturday morning, waiting to meet Allan.
Dalley said advocating for better mental health services is an issue close to them as well and they want the government to recognize their role in improving the current system.
"I want them to know that this is more important than the time they are giving it," Dalley said.
Dalley was not surprised to learn Allan would be demonstrating in her wedding dress, but said it would have been understandable if she didn't.
"I have no words to describe her. She is an absolutely amazing person. She is so strong, she is so passionate."
Allan said her fiancé was quite understanding of the plan, considering thousands of people would see her in person or virtually see them on their wedding day.
Her dedication was all too obvious when she started chuckling after an excited dog left a large, muddy paw print on her white wedding dress outside the hospital.
"Mental illness is still an issue when great things are happening in your life," said Allan.
"I thought this is a way to bring attention to that.… Mental illness never goes away."
With files from CBC's On the Go