One on One with Theo Fleury

Robert Thomas

“I'm too young to be a grandfather,” laughed the recently wed Theo Fleury.

The father of four, Josh (who was born in Moose Jaw), Beaux, Tatym and Skylah recently granted an extended interview with MJ Independent and talked about big things happening in his life.

“We have been engaged for four years and we woke up on Christmas Day and said let's get married on New Year’s Day,” Theo said about marrying Elle Presley whom he romanced for five years.

 Theo and his wife, Elle Presley, at their wedding.

Theo and his wife, Elle Presley, at their wedding.

Theo said the marriage was a low key affair with only about 20 guests in attendance. He liked the significance of an 01/01/18 marriage date. Despite getting married, there was no honeymoon for the couple as the hard-working Theo was too busy. There were many people who needed his help. He hasn't taken a holiday in years.

“I work in the field of trauma, mental health and addiction,” Theo said, adding “I'm helping others.”

Most people, locally, remember Theo as a member of the Moose Jaw Warriors. He was their all-time leader in goals and points, and was often referred to as the greatest warrior. He went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames and played sixteen great seasons in the NHL, only to have his life seemingly destroyed by addiction that many people believe was brought on by the abuse he suffered at the hands of Graham James, one of the most notorious pedophiles in Canadian history. However, Theo doesn't blame anyone for his personal struggles other than himself. 

Theo would fight back from his addiction and become one of the world greatest and most prominent advocates for the sexually abused, and people suffering from trauma, mental health illness and addiction. At the present time, Theo speaks all over North America, with at least one speaking engagement weekly.

In a recent week, Theo spoke to a high school audience of 600 in Winnipeg and later went to Stony Mountain Penitentiary where he spoke to 600 – 700 inmates. This was the fifteenth time Theo visited a prison to speak to the inmates.  “They are the forgotten people. I'm very curious about rehabilitation while they are in there. A lot of those guys have had a trauma like myself,” Theo said.

Theo also said that he finds a connection with inmates. “The only thing that separates us, is I didn't get caught and they did,” he said. 

Theo said he believes in people paying the price for their crimes, but there needs to be help to break the cycle of offending, going to jail, getting out and re-offending.

“I am interested in the prison system; about rehabilitation, so they don't keep going back to prison over and over again,” Fleury stated, adding that he believed “in rehabilitation instead of punishment, when it comes to petty crime, but there are certain crimes committed for which a person should never get out.”

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Asked about critics who might call for hard time for everyone incarcerated, Theo responded “have you never made a mistake in your life? Did somebody ever give you a second chance?”

Theo is a fierce critic of the system and the politicians who run it, both in prison and in everyday society. “They're not being rehabilitated in prison. I would say a majority have experienced physical, sexual or emotional trauma. They aren't working on the trauma they suffered. They are short of resources with one or two psychologists for 1000 inmates,” Theo said, adding “the entire mental health system has been completely run over. There are not enough psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers for the trauma people have experienced.”

Theo recently used the social network Twitter to call out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over an illegal Caribbean vacation he was gifted by a multi-billionaire lobbyist allegedly attempting to curry favour with the Trudeau government. Fleury disapproved of Trudeau accepting the gift and he doubly disapproved of the Prime Minister's response to the critics. 

Read: Theo Fleury Has Beef with Justin Trudeau

“It's kind of ridiculous; we know the statistics and we know there is a lack of services and the government would like to spend money anywhere but Canada...as an advocate for tougher laws and more services, I don't know how much the Prime Minister spent on vacation, but he could have spent it on different mental health services,” Theo stated.

He stated that he didn't begrudge the Prime Minister taking a vacation, but added “I haven't taken a vacation in six or seven years because I know the importance and extent of trauma, mental health and addiction.”

Asked if he would like to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss his concerns, including the $15 billion cost sexual abuse has on the economy, Theo said it was unlikely. “Probably not, because you can't fix stupid,” he said.

Theo said it was not an attack on any particular political party but on politicians in general.

“The only thing they're interested in is getting their photo to post (on social media), they don't want to talk about the issues. There never ever is any follow up; it's like talking to a brick wall…most politicians have their own agendas. Some try to do good, but for others it's about feeding their ego…the political system is completely broken and needs to be fixed. Politicians need to be held accountable for their decisions,” Theo said.

“We need a leader with integrity, honesty and who cares about the people. It drives me nuts,” Fleury said about the Prime Minister.

To make up where the politicians and the system have failed, Theo himself has taken action through his Breaking Free Foundation. Funds are raised through various fundraising initiatives to “provide therapy for people who can't afford therapy. We pay for therapy sessions because the government doesn't look after anybody.”

Asked about how he would like people to remember him; as a hockey player or as a person who helped others, Theo said, “as a person who tried to help others. Hockey gave me a voice to tell my experiences, to help others…I think the more awareness we bring to the subject (of sexual abuse), the more people will have their own voice.”

Theo spoke about his speaking engagements, and how after each session, between six and eight people would come forward and speak about the trauma in their own lives. “There are thousands upon thousands of Graham James' in this world,” he said.

It's this philosophy that Theo finds comfort in.

“All of us can be there to help anybody and everybody. I believe it's why we have been put on this Earth; to help other people,” Theo stated.

Asked about a recent court case in Drumheller, Alberta, where Jason Dixon, another alleged Graham James victim, was given a lighter sentence than recommended by the Crown, for impaired driving causing bodily harm. The presiding judge took into account the abuse Dixon received at the age of 14. Theo said that "many are suffering".

“If you look at people traumatized as children, the majority get involved in addiction. He was drinking, in trouble with the police and addiction. It's his way of managing emotional pain and suffering, he may not have necessarily wanted to act that way. But we are all responsible for our choices and actions and addictions,” Theo said.

Asked what people could easily do to help themselves if they are suffering from mental health problems, Theo said "don't retreat, but get active". 

“People suffering with mental health issues need to move, physically. Start walking, exercises, yoga, meditation just get moving. It isn't always easy for people who are suffering, but try.”

Regarding the Moose Jaw Warriors and how a few years back he had publicly stated he wanted to coach them, Theo replied “I often think about what it would be like to be a coach (in hockey). I'm coaching right now, but I'm a life coach.”

Regarding this year’s highly succesful Moose Jaw Warriors, Theo said it is awesome and he has been actively following the team. “Tim Hunter and I were teammates in Calgary, he is a great guy and I am happy for his success. He is doing an amazing job,” Theo said, adding “when was the last time you saw the Moose Jaw Warriors at the top of the WHL?”

 Theo at the 1988 World Juniors. He claims it was his favourite championship.

Theo at the 1988 World Juniors. He claims it was his favourite championship.

Given three opportunities during the interview to add what he would do to make the Warriors better, Theo replied “nothing. Everything is just awesome.”

Asked about the old Moose Jaw Civic Centre, now torn down and replaced by Mosaic Place, Theo said he missed it and he missed skating there. “It was one of the greatest places to play a game of hockey.” But the old Civic Centre isn't his fondest memory of Moose Jaw, he says. The people are.

“There are lots of amazing people in Moose Jaw.”

Theo usually returns annually to play in the Warriors alumni golf tournament.

 

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