Arts

U of O student speaks about supporting those facing adversity at TEDx

 Photo by Marta Kierkus

Paul Leduc has overcome barriers and succeeded in starting his own organization. Through the Canadian Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse, he can now help support others as they face their own challenges.

On Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. in the Alumni Auditorium, Leduc will be speaking at TEDxUOttawa. TEDx events have grown out of the larger TED talks series, a non-profit conference featuring speakers on a variety of topics. TEDx conferences are smaller, locally run conferences intended to stimulate discussion of ideas worth spreading. The second annual U of O event is hosted by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).

The theme of this year’s U of O event is “vision.” Leduc’s vision is of a community that welcomes individuals who have suffered adversity and provides them with support to heal and grow.

“I hope to shed some light on the challenges that individuals face when they experience some sort of trauma,” he says. “In my own life, I’ve had to overcome many barriers in order to be leading a happy and fulfilling life.”

Leduc grew up in Ottawa, completed a sociology degree at the U of O and a college diploma in paramedics, and is currently pursuing a second bachelor’s degree at the U of O in health sciences. He does charitable work with local organization LiveWorkPlay, supporting those with intellectual disabilities in the workplace and runs his own organization.

When seeking therapy for his childhood sexual abuse, Leduc faced financial challenges as a student trying to find and pay for a therapist until he was formally diagnosed. Those who reached out to him during this time inspired him to co-found The Canadian Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse.

“After witnessing such a dramatic change in my own life, I wanted to be able to support others to begin their journey to heal,” he says.

The organization aims to raise public awareness through education and outreach. It supports male survivors by providing funds to assist in paying for therapy and counselling and to prepare them to face their abusers through the legal system.

“Through my work I have had the opportunity to meet individuals who, against all odds, have overcome adversity in their lives. I continue to be inspired by their stories,” he says.

“We often hear inspirational stories of people who have conquered their demons and think they are the exception to the rule,” he says. “In reality, we all have the inner strength to heal and overcome adversity. It is just a matter of finding your inner strength.”

Tickets for the TEDxUOttawa conference are $10 and are available at the SFUO office.