CORNWALL, Ontario – If there was ever a person who could be excused for carrying a wealth of hate with her for the rest of her life it is Noella Bouvier.
The Cornwall woman suffered through the worst tragedy a parent can endure, following an October 1999 stabbing attack that targeted her daughter Julie.
Julie ultimately survived the tragedy, and the incident has been immortalized in a controversial, but popular, documentary that highlights the fragility of mental illness patients, Not Criminally Responsible.
In an interview with Seaway News Noella said she was able to forgive her daughter’s attacker, Sean Clifton, through her strong commitment to god, and an outreach program offered by At Thy Word Ministries church in Cornwall.
“Once I understood the mental illness…then I came to realize it is a terrible sickness,” she said.
Bouvier will join others at a Women’s Luncheon and Wellness Open Forum Oct. 18 at Nav Centre.
The message being delivered at the forum is that everyone should be afforded the chance to ask questions about mental illness – and have those questions answered.
“The reaction from people – we’ve seen people crying in the audience,” said Shirley Zappia, pastor at At Thy Word, and one of the conveners of the forum. “They can see both sides…and the forgiveness.”
Between 150 and 300 people often attend the event, which will also include input from Jackie Megenhardt, a local woman who has been healed of paranoid schizophrenia.
Megenhardt also credits her faith as a tool for overcoming mental illness.
“I have followed the word of god, and that helped cure me,” she said.
The forum runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and ticket information can be found by calling 613-932-2618. Tickets are $35 and that includes admission and lunch.