Mr. Richard Mayrand, a generous donor and committed Portage volunteer, recently organized a special showing of the movie ʺThe Truman Showʺ for youth at the Lac Écho Centre. Residents from both adolescent programs enjoyed a pizza lunch before viewing the movie and taking part in a discussion workshop on the theme of the film.  

Mr. Mayrand has been a dedicated Portage volunteer for more than 25 years.  He has maintained a strong interest in the youth program and the future of its young residents ever since he first visited the Lac Écho centre. Through the years, he has met hundreds of youths who have benefited from his wealth of experience thanks to the "Truman Show" activity.

"The Truman Show" is a 1998 movie directed by Peter Weir and starring Jim Carrey. It chronicles the life of Truman Burbank, who discovers that his entire existence has been staged for the purposes of an ongoing TV reality show from the time of his birth. With that realization, Truman decides to find out who he really is and escape his sham reality.

The movie elicited a variety of responses from the residents. Some were captivated by Truman’s fascinating story, while others were upset by the way he was manipulated. All the residents were moved and inspired by Truman’s quest to discover his true identity and escape his fabricated reality. The workshop gave them an opportunity to express their own thoughts and find similarities with the themes raised by the film.

The limits of perception and individual freedom

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a well-known philosophical concept, was one of the topics brought up in the workshop. This concept posits that prisoners chained in a cave can see nothing but the shadows projected on the wall in front of them; those shadows are their only reality. They know nothing of the world outside their cave. Truman’s situation is similar in that he lives in a completely fabricated world where everything is orchestrated around him, so that he is unable to see what is actually real.

The young residents readily identified with this concept. They realized that, before starting their therapy at Portage, their own perception of reality was limited and skewed by their dependency, which prevented them from seeing beyond the shadows that engulfed them and held them prisoner.

Discussion and life objectives

Mr. Mayrand’s questions during the workshop helped the residents identify similarities between Truman’s life and what they themselves experienced before entering Portage. Because the residents are used to group discussions in the therapeutic community, everyone took an active part in the workshop. They talked about their experience with dependency as well as the challenges and obstacles they faced. They bravely shared some of the darker moments of their lives, describing the negative effects, emotional struggles and harmful consequences of addiction.

They also shared their dreams and aspirations for the future, which included ʺstaying soberʺ, ʺgetting my law degreeʺ, ʺstarting a familyʺ, ʺworking as an addictions counsellorʺ, ʺmaking peace with myselfʺ and ʺbeing happyʺ.  Drawing a parallel with the movie, Mr. Mayrand explained the importance of having a positive attitude and continuing to believe in your dreams despite the obstacles you encounter.

ʺEvery time I visit, I’m amazed by these young people’s lucidity and their resilience in the face of the challenges they’ve had to overcome. I feel privileged to be able to talk with them about subjects that shape their values as future adults and concepts that help them become responsible citizens who are capable of contributing to our community. ʺ - Richard Mayrand

The Truman Show activity is much more than watching an entertaining movie. It’s an opportunity for residents to share in a rewarding discussion, to strengthen their ties and to really connect with one another, while also reflecting on their own journey through life.

Mr. Mayrand has honored the Lac Écho youth centres with his visits twice a year for the past 25 years. The young residents always look forward to the Truman Show activity and thoroughly enjoy it. They can identify with Truman and are inspired by his determination to break free from his confined existence. We look forward to pursuing this wonderful tradition for years to come.





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