Deborah Hooper, Sam Fiorella, and Vancouver Island University president and vice chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson, unveiling The Friendship Bench at the Nanaimo Campus in 2016. (Submitted Photo)

VIU to unveil Friendship Bench at Cowichan campus

Post-secondary school unveiled first bench in Nanaimo in 2016

Vancouver Island University is once again moving the conversation forward among faculty, staff and students on mental health awareness.

On Monday, a new bright-yellow Friendship Bench will be unveiled at the school’s Cowichan Campus in Duncan and act as a physical place to foster discussion on the topic.

“The bench serves as a reminder about the importance of mental health awareness and student-to-student conversations. This will be VIU’s second Friendship Bench – the first was installed at the Nanaimo Campus in October 2016,” according to a media advisory.

The bench is made possible because of fundraising by Kiwanis Club of Duncan, the VIU Faculty Association and VIU employees.

The Lucas Fiorella Friendship Bench campaign was created to continue the legacy of Lucas Fiorella who, after suffering from depression, took his own life on Oct. 12, 2014.

Secondary and post-secondary institutions across Canada have used the brightly painted benches to reduce the stigma around mental health with the aim of reducing the number of suicides and suicide attempts among Canadian students 14 to 25.

The official unveiling will take place on Monday, Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. in the cafeteria. The Cowichan Campus is located at 2011 University Way in Duncan.

Visit thefriendshipbench.org for more details.