Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk: A journey around Canada to grow the mental health conversation like never before

  • Six-time Olympian Clara Hughes to ride her bike coast to coast to coast to talk about mental health with schools and community organizations in every province and territory
  • Starting next March 2014, Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk will span more than 100 days and 12,000 kilometres – concluding in Ottawa on Canada Day 2014
  • Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk is supported by leading mental health organizations and National Partners BMO, Canadian Tire, Samsung and CTV

Gatineau, QC, April 25, 2013 – Bell today announced Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk, a national bicycle tour by Clara Hughes in support of mental health that begins in March 2014 and spans more than 100 days, 12,000 kilometres and every province and territory of Canada. The ride culminates on Canada Day, July 1 2014, in Ottawa.

Canada’s six-time Olympic cycling and speed-skating medallist and national spokesperson for the Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative, Clara will invite people in communities around the country to the mental health discussion, sharing her own story of a struggle with depression during her athletic career.

“I’m incredibly excited about bringing even more Canadians into the Bell Let’s Talk conversation – the schools, community groups and hometown champions that are really moving mental health forward,” said Clara. “I’m looking forward to meeting people across Canada, hearing about their challenges and successes, sharing our stories and embracing new ideas and opportunities in mental health. I can’t think of a better way to meet people, from the cities to the coasts to Canada’s North, than getting on my bike and taking to the roads of this beautiful country.”

“Mental health and wellness requires the combined efforts of governments, communities, corporations and individuals,” said Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. “We commend Bell Canada and Clara Hughes for their commitment to engaging Canadians in conversations and helping to create communities of compassion and awareness.”

“Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk will grow the conversation about mental health like never before while highlighting community mental health organizations in every part of Canada,” said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell and BCE Inc. “We’ve made significant strides in the fight against the stigma with Bell Let’s Talk Day and major progress in funding new care, research and workplace initiatives. As a tireless champion of mental health, Clara is building on that momentum and taking the cause to a whole new level.”

Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk is supported by Canada’s leading mental health organizations, including Agir contre la maladie mentale (AMI-Québec), Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, Canadian Mental Health Association, and Fondation des maladies mentales. Bell Let’s Talk is also proud to announce BMO, Canadian Tire, Samsung and CTV as the first National Partners of Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk.

The Ride will be a catalyst for new events, partnerships and fundraising – where every dollar stays in the community for local mental health initiatives. It will reach more than 60% of the Canadian population, including all three Northern territories. Plans are underway to engage with local, regional and national organizations to create hundreds of community events.

“The response of Canadians to the Bell Let’s Talk call to end the stigma of mental illness has been truly inspiring. And we’ve learned through the annual Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund, which supports new local mental health projects each year, that amazing work is being undertaken at the grassroots level in every region of Canada,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk will broaden the conversation, spark new fundraising, awareness and engagement opportunities, and take us closer to ending the stigma with every kilometre Clara rides.”

“Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk will inspire Canadians to come together in a combined effort to address all mental illnesses,” said Dave Gallson, Co-Chair of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health. “The truly inspiring nature of this campaign is that it is community focused and will involve all citizens, young and old, regardless of where they live or work. We congratulate everyone involved and encourage all Canadians to follow the Ride, participate in community events, and help make this a huge success.”

Making a difference includes bringing the next generation into the mental health conversation. Schools across the nation will have the opportunity to discuss with Clara new ideas to grow the conversation in their own communities. The Ride will also work with communities to develop their own Bell Let’s Talk events, an unprecedented opportunity for local mental health groups to raise funds and awareness for their programs that are making a profoundly important difference in the lives of people in their communities.

Share in the ride at
Every Canadian can participate in Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk through community events and social media. For more information, please visit or follow the latest Ride news on Facebook or on Twitter at @Bell_LetsTalk.

The Ride builds on the growing success of Bell Let’s Talk Day, an annual event led by Clara that invites Canadians to join the conversation about mental illness, reducing the stigma while growing Bell’s funding of mental health. Bell donates 5 cents to mental health for every text and long-distance call by Bell and Bell Aliant customers and every tweet and Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk message.

This year, Canadians sent a total of 96.266.266 messages – resulting in an additional $4,813,313.30 in Bell funding for mental health. With its initial $50-million commitment and three successful Bell Let’s Talk Days since 2011, Bell has now committed a total of $62,043,289.30 to Canadian mental health.

The Bell Let’s Talk initiative was launched in 2010 to drive action in mental health based on 4 pillars: Anti-stigma, care and access, research, and workplace best practices. To learn more about the largest-ever corporate commitment to Canadian mental health, please visit

At least 1 in 5 Canadians will struggle with a mental illness in their lifetimes – and 2 out of 3 won’t seek the help they need because of the stigma surrounding the disease. Mental illness impacts everyone in some way, and it’s a health issue that costs the Canadian economy over $51 billion every year. More than 500,000 people miss work each day because of a mental illness, and the impact in lost labour-market participation alone was an estimated $20.7 billion in 2012.

About Bell
Bell is Canada’s largest communications company, providing consumers and business with solutions to all their communications needs. Bell Media is Canada’s premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio and digital media. Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). To learn more about Bell, please visit

Leading Canadians comment on Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk

“By reaching out and talking to Canadians in communities across the country, Clara and Bell Let’s Talk continue to be proactive in ending the stigma of mental illness. Their hard work, dedication, and determination continue to spread the word, building on their progress. Let’s continue to keep talking!”
Laureen Harper

“Bell continues to demonstrate an unprecedented commitment to advancing the cause of mental health in Canada.  As someone who has been involved in raising awareness, engaging Canadians  and building understanding about this issue for over 20 years, I have never seen anything of this nature or on this scale.  Congratulations to Clara and Bell for engaging with Canadians and communities in an authentic, unique and grassroots way.”
Michael Wilson, P.C., C.C.

“Clara Hughes is a Difference Maker who is working to help build an accessible and inclusive Canada with Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk. Clara is an outstanding athlete, a great person, and someone who understands that she has been able to achieve her hopes and dreams because of the people who have supported her, and now she’s paying it forward with Bell to make a difference.”
Rick Hansen, Rick Hansen Foundation

“On behalf of the Canadian Olympic Committee I congratulate Clara Hughes on her unparalleled leadership and service to community, One of the defining characteristics of Bell Canada, under the leadership of George Cope, is the passion and dedication to advancing the conversation on mental health in our country.”
Marcel Aubut, President of the Canadian Olympic Committee

“As spokesperson for Bell Let’s Talk Day, I would like to thank Clara Hughes for her dedicated work in raising awareness about mental health. I wish her every success for the 2014 Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk event. Go Clara!”
Stefie Shock, Spokesperson, Bell Let’s Talk

“Clara is not only a great Olympian and a great Canadian, she’s a great person. We have a proud history in this country of individuals whose journeys across Canada have inspired the nation and raised awareness and hope. Please join Clara on this odyssey. Let’s bike, walk and most importantly talk about mental illness and mental health – to acknowledge the reality, to fight the stigma, and to give hope for a brighter future for the 1 in 5 Canadians every year who experience mental illness.”
David S. Goldbloom, MD, FRCPC, Chair, Mental Health Commission of Canada

“The Mental Health Strategy for Canada, launched last May by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, marks a turning point in the conversation about mental health problems and illness. The Bell Let’s Talk initiative is playing an important role, with its focus on reducing stigma and promoting recovery for people living with mental illness and their families across Canada.  We look forward to working together with Bell to advance shared goals through Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk.”
Louise Bradley, President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada

“CMHA commends Bell and Clara Hughes for this initiative to improve Canadians’ understanding of mental health and mental illness and reduce discrimination and stigma. Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk will help raise the profile of mental health in communities across Canada and stimulate new conversations and partnerships. All Canadians, including those with mental health problems, will benefit from the improved knowledge and attitudes arising from the increased profile on mental health and the programs and services available.”
Peter Coleridge, National Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Mental Health Association

“Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk is another initiative that ensures the conversation around mental illness and mental health continues. Quebec is excited to welcome Clara Hughes! This tour will help to make sure that mental illness is brought to – and remains – at the center of our collective attention and action, and that people with mental illness are recognized for their gifts and abilities, not just for their disabilities.”
Ella Amir, Executive Director, AMI-Québec

“We strongly believe through the Samsung Hope for Children program that there is a need to bring attention to childhood health, which is why we are proud to play a part in ‘Clara’s Big Ride’, “Samsung Canada actively strives to serve as a generous corporate citizen and it is our hope that through sponsorship such as ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ that we are able to activate awareness for mental health across Canada.”
HT Kim, President and CEO, Samsung Canada

“We are very proud to support Clara in her tireless work to fight the stigmas associated with mental illness. The Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk is more important than ever as it encourages those who need help to seek it. Improving the conversation about mental illness is important to all of us at BMO, in our workplace and our communities.”
Tom Milroy, CEO, BMO Capital Markets

“As a Canadian company deeply rooted in communities across the country, Canadian Tire is committed to empowering youth through the power of sport.  We are proud to join Clara Hughes and Bell Canada in this incredible initiative, which will promote the important role fitness and activity can play in a healthy and balanced lifestyle.”
Stephen Wetmore, President and CEO, Canadian Tire

“What an honour for BUILT Network Moncton and community stakeholders to participate with Clara Hughes en route through New Brunswick. Clara’s presence will bring a heightened awareness about depression and her life experience.  This will encourage and motivate countless others to come forward and share their stories.”
Cynthia Black, Executive Director, BUILT Network Moncton, Inc.

“As an individual living with mental health issues representing a consumer-led organization, I am thrilled at the promise of this tour. Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk will offer the opportunity to unite the entire nation as we all strive for stigma-free communities while creating safe spaces for individuals to start a conversation. It is only when we open up and say ‘Let’s Talk’ do we destroy the silence.”
Paula Corcoran, Provincial Executive Director (Acting), Consumers’ Health Awareness Network Newfoundland And Labrador (CHANNAL)

“This tremendous initiative gives us an opportunity to build on the progress we have made in the fight against the stigma surrounding mental illness, and accelerate that progress in the communities we serve. Clara’s Big Ride will build on the 2013 success of Bell Let’s Talk Day and rally Canadians to take the conversation about mental health to the next level.”
Karen Sheriff, President and CEO, Bell Aliant

“Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk will connect Canadians across the country in support of mental health.  I am proud that there is an opportunity for First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities to join this truly Canadian grassroots campaign.”
Bill Mussell, Chair, Native Mental Health Association

Clara Hughes’ commitment to mental health serves as an inspiration to all Canadians. Northwestel applauds Clara’s effort to bring the conversation to the smallest and most remote communities in our vast country and thank her for including the north on her tour. Her leadership and dedication to raising awareness about mental health are a huge undertaking and we have no doubt that she will continue to make us proud to be Canadian as she has done for decades.
Paul Flaherty, President & CEO Northwestel

“As Clara’s friend and teammate, I’d like to applaud her efforts and thank her partners at Bell for once again stepping up for those facing mental health issues. I’m certain the trip will ignite many conversations and leave legacies in each and every stop. Clara is a true Champion in every sense of the word, and I look forward to joining her, for a few days, on this incredible journey.”
Adam van Koeverden, World and Olympic Champion kayaker.

“Mental health awareness is a very personal and important cause to both me and my family. Events like Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk will continue to bring much-needed attention to this cause and I hope it will inspire more people to talk openly about their own mental wellness. Clara has been a great leader for the cause and I wish her great success for her upcoming ride across Canada.”
Daniel Alfredsson, Captain, Ottawa Senators

“The Canadian Nurses Association is delighted to be a part of Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk,” said Barb Mildon, Canadian Nurses Association president. “Nurses are committed to promoting mental health and wellness across the lifespan and wherever Canadians live, learn, work and play. We congratulate Bell for their leadership and for understanding that nothing less than true collaboration across sectors and communities will generate awareness, reduce stigma and improve the health of those living with mental illness and their families.”
Barb Mildon, President, Canadian Nurses Association.

“In building relationships with national and community organizations focussed on mental health, Bell is demonstrating the leadership necessary to not only raise awareness but to leave lasting legacies from coast to coast to coast inCanada”
Fred Phelps MSW, RSW, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Social Workers

For further information:

For media inquiries, please contact:

Jacqueline Michelis
Bell Media Relations
[email protected]


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