Amy Grant, left, performs on the Shirley’s Little Nashville stage with her daughter and brother at the most recent Stewiacke Culture Showcase. For almost a year now, the showcase has been featuring local musicians and supporting local organizations. (Tetanish photo)

By Raissa Tetanish, HubNow

STEWIACKE: Jim McMorran’s depression took him to a point he thought he’d never return from.

But a phone call from a friend asking how he was doing snapped him out of his thoughts and kept him alive. Literally.

“My diagnosis was a result of…I had decided to take my life,” said McMorran. “I knew where, I knew how.”

It was that day, McMorran sat in the dark contemplating. Then, the phone rang.

Realizing then he needed help, McMorran, a Stewiacke resident, went to see a doctor who diagnosed him with depression – from situational problems and low serotonin.

He started medicating himself, however McMorran took himself off the meds.

“I didn’t like how I was while on them. I was more of a zombie than anything else.”

Since then, McMorran has become involved with the Canadian Mental Health Association – first with the Halifax branch division board as president, then with the Colchester-East Hants branch after moving to Stewiacke.

After he moved to Stewiacke, McMorran joined the town’s tourism committee and met Jeff Gray. The two chatted, and Gray mentioned the Stewiacke Culture Showcase, which they started last October.

Over the past year, local organizations have benefited – such as the mental health association, Baptist Church, food bank, STARS refugee group, and the re-development project at Dennis Park.

The most recent showcase, on the Shirley’s Little Nashville stage outside the Stewiacke Foodland, featured a number of artists such as Casey May.

“Having showcases like this, it’s crucial,” said May, while Amy Grant performed. “Without the support of your hometown, you don’t make it far. It gives local acts a chance to play in a friendly environment. There’s only so much of an impact you can have in a bar.”

This was May’s fourth culture showcase so far and said every little bit of a donation counts.

“You don’t always see the grand picture, but small things turn into something big,” he said. “If a small community raises a little bit, it just snowballs from there.”

Since the showcase started, roughly $1,000 has been raised. McMorran said Foodland owner Darren Schriver has been a huge supporter, and even built the stage outside the store.

The owner was approached after rain dampened the June 30 plans to celebrate Canada 150.

Within a month, the stage was built.

“To support the local artists,” said Schriver, a smile on his face in between serving up hamburgers and hotdogs at the barbecue.

Taking a moment to speak to the crowd, McMorran explained his battle with depression and the support for the mental health association.

“We want to try and take away the stigma of mental illness,” he said. “Twenty-five years ago, if I told you I had AIDS, you would’ve cleared the room.”

Mental illness, he said, is just that – an illness similar to heart or liver disease.

“It’s not something to be afraid of or ashamed of,” he said.

The mental health association offers a variety of programs and resources for anyone in need, including assisted living, peer support and one-on-one support.

For more information on the services the Colchester-East Hants branch offers, drop into 574 Prince St., Truro, visit http://www.ceh.cmha.ca/, or call 902-895-4211.

For information on the next Stewiacke Culture Showcase, search for The Stewiacke Culture Showcase page on Facebook.