The B.C. Achievement Foundation’s Community Award celebrates British Columbians who go above and beyond in their service towards building stronger communities throughout the province.
“The Community Award is the cornerstone of B.C. Achievement’s mission to honour excellence and inspire achievement in the province of B.C.,” according to the B.C. Achievement Foundation’s website. “The award recognizes the contributions of extraordinary British Columbians who build better, stronger, more resilient communities and shine as examples of dedication and service.”
We are all a part of one or more communities which we have the ability to grow and strengthen through positive action, and few British Columbians have shown their ability to do so more than hockey player and mental health ambassador Myles Mattila.
Mattila, originally from Quesnel who is now living in Kelowna, is one of 25 recipients of this year’s prestigious B.C. Achievement Community Award for his mental health advocacy, concussion awareness and civic engagement.
“I actually had no idea that I was nominated for it, so it was quite the surprise,” said Mattila. “I thought it was fantastic and it really added some positivity, especially in a tough time like this with self-isolation and not being able to connect with others — having this type of positivity was fantastic, and I was really honoured to be one of the recipients of the award.”
Mattila became involved in mental health advocacy at the young age of 14 when he observed a hockey teammate was going through a rough time and in an effort to help his friend, reached out to their coach for help.
Unfortunately, their coach did not have the knowledge or training needed to handle the situation and resolved to remove the distressed teen from the team rather than find avenues to improve his mental health.
This was absolutely not the result that Mattila wanted or expected, and from that day on, he began to educate himself on mental health. In the years that followed, Mattila created the MindRight for Athletes Society, a non-profit organization that strives to promote wellness and positive living by increasing community awareness of and education in mental health and connecting young athletes to the mental health resources they may need.
“I was really passionate about just trying to raise awareness around the topic, making sure that people know they are not alone and that if they do need to speak out, they can do it in an environment where it is safe to do so,” said Mattila.
Recently, MindRight presented its inaugural Grant Sheridan Scholarship to Beaver Valley Nighthawks captain Angus Amadio. The annual $1,500 award is presented to a KIJHL player who has proven strong community involvement and exhibits academic excellence and leadership qualities.
Mattila, who has played for the Kelowna Chiefs for the past three years and last season served as captain, created the scholarship through MindRight in partnership with the KIJHL as a way to honour the Chiefs’ former president and general manager, who passed away last year after contracting bacterial meningitis.
Mattila attributes Sheridan with leaving a profound mark on his life and helping to grow the MindRight Society.
“When he passed away, I was quite devastated — he was the first individual that was very selfless on helping me grow the MindRight initiative,” said Mattila. “When I moved to Kelowna, I was searching for opportunities to play hockey and go to school, and I wanted to make sure that my mental health initiatives were still a priority for me, and that’s the first thing Grant mentioned with me. He was willing to share his expertise and help me out through this journey at no cost — he just wanted to do it to help me better myself and the community, and I think that really sums up Grant Sheridan. He was selfless.”
Looking forward, Mattila is focusing on completing his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a management specialty at the Okanagan College campus in Kelowna and hopes to pursue further education, eventually earning his MBA.
The recipients of the 2020 Community Award will be recognized in a formal presentation ceremony in Victoria, in the presence of B.C. Lieutenant-Governor Janet Austin. Each recipient will receive a certificate and a medallion designed by B.C. artist Robert Davidson. Due to COVID-19, the ceremony planned for the end of April has been postponed to a future date to be announced.
— with files from Lindsay Chung