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 MG 9932

Gen’s bench: more than just a place to sit

Just over a year ago, we celebrated the life of Genevier Sullivan, a pioneer for student mental health at Langara. Her story, her wit, and her ability to comfort any and all she encountered touched the lives of many in the College community and beyond.

Gen did not have an easy life; she grew up in foster care and suffered from depression and PTSD. In a quote for a Langara article, she expressed that ‘the key is to reach out and don’t stop reaching out until you get what you need’.

On the night she passed away, Gen’s mental health took a sudden dive to a very dark place. Gen did reach out on that night, but it was too late; emergency responders could not reach her in time and many were left wondering why and how. It was, sadly, a textbook example of how we can not always determine when someone is at risk of suicide.

Twenty-four hours prior, Gen was planning for the summer semester, talking about helping a friend who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and planning her summer planting. She was on top of her game, seemingly in a healthy place. This, however, was not the case. Hence the disbelief and shock for those close to her.

Genevier loved being outdoors, in nature, except for when she was homeless – that was her joke. I felt it was important that we not forget Gen, her story, and her impact on the College. After Gen’s passing, I wanted a garden bench in her memory, even if I had to bring one in myself. The generosity of the College, through mental health funding, and the hard work of Moira Gookstetter from the Langara College Foundation, provided for the installation of a memorial bench on the east-west walkway, before the pond.

Gen’s bench, set beneath an umbrella of trees, has an incredible view of the pond, surrounding greenery, and the Musqueam House Post.

If you find yourself near Gen’s bench, take a moment to rest your feet and your soul, and nurture your own mental health or invite someone to join you and share in the journey towards mental well being.

Reba Noel
Student Engagement Manager

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