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Five Cent City is back to fight the opioid crisis with positivity

Music, basketball, food and fun hosted Aug. 25 in the parking lot of 76 Durham Street

Charity events are mostly about raising money: for an organization or a program or a family. But Five Cent City — which hosts its second annual event on Aug. 25 — has different motives.

It's not about raising money; it's about raising positivity, about raising community spirit. It's about, according to the brains behind the event, Christian Robertson, promoting unity and understanding between often isolated segments of the community of Greater Sudbury.

And it's also about having some fun.

Five Cent City will be hosting its second annual event in the parking lot of 76 Durham Street from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 25. The focus this year is the opioid crisis that has touched every community in Northern Ontario, with Greater Sudbury being particularly hard hit.

With a focus on prevention, connection and recovery, Five Cent City aims to foster an environment of unity and pride to combat the isolation and shame surrounding mental health and addictions.

Their summer event aims to encourage members of the community to engage with one another socially, while encouraging and educating each other on the topic of mental wellness. 

The full-day event will include performances by some of the city's top athletes and entertainers, including DJs, performers and world-renowned slam dunk champion, Jordan Kilganon. A number of basketball tournaments and competitions will be held over the course of the event, including a dunk and shootout contest.

There will also be speeches throughout the day by experts from local health services, individuals struggling with addictions and mental health challenges, as well as community members who have lost a loved one to overdose or suicide. Representatives from a number of local health services will also be on-location to answer questions from the public, and engage with those in attendance, to help influence future strategies. 

In exchange for the five-cent admission fee, those in attendance will be given a Five Cent City bracelet, a take-home card listing a number of local health services, and the opportunity to contribute to a mural painted on-site.

Barbecue, pizza and snacks will be available throughout the day. 

Five Cent City bills itself as a grassroots collective of community organizers, youth leaders, support workers, artists, entertainers and caregivers — banded together to unite the community. Robertson founded the event after returning to Sudbury three years ago for the funeral of a close friend.

Growing up in the Donovan/Flour Mill area, Robertson said he knew the city struggled with mental illness and addiction, but it wasn't until he returned for a visit and had the opportunity to talk to members of his former community that he learned the severity of the situation. He still lives in the Toronto area, but feels a close connection to his hometown.

Robertson said the extent of the opioid crisis shook him, but was no real surprise, seeing as he had lost his best friend and mentor to addiction-related suicide just a few months prior, and was in the process of helping his business partner through drug rehabilitation.

Before moving to Toronto, Robertson held a basketball tournament for members of his community to support the funeral costs of a YMCA youth who passed away. Using this as a springboard, he felt he needed to do something for community members too often isolated by mental illness, socio-economics and addiction.

Residents can contribute to the success of this year's event and help Robertson cover costs by donating to Five Cent City's GoFundMe campaign

And to learn a little about what it's all about, check out Five Cent City's video of last year's event.

Five Cent City from THE NORTHLAND RECORDINGS on Vimeo.


Keira Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Keira Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

A graduate of both Laurentian University and Cambrian College, Keira Ferguson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada, at
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