Brook’s legacy

After Brook Morrison's death, the family of the popular local hiker is working to make counselling more accessible and reduce the stigma of talking about suicide.

By Tyler Olsen | September 8, 2022 |5:00 am

Content warning: This story briefly discusses suicide. If you need help, call the BC Crisis Centre at 1-800-SUICIDE. More help is available here.

Brook Morrison was an avid hiker and beloved friend, brother, and son.

He died in September 2020 after struggling with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Brook was happy to talk about his mental and had sought out counselling but he also found solace and comfort in hiking and being outdoors.

After his death by suicide two years ago, Brook’s family created a non-profit to help others improve their mental health while embracing and celebrating the things Brook loved and aspects of him that made him so popular with friends, family, and fellow hikes.

In The Current’s very first newsletter in March of 2021, we spoke to Brook’s family about the creation of BeMorr Society.

Eighteen months later, with the Abbotsford-based non-profit organization getting ready to host its first gala, we checked in with Brook’s mom, Anne-Mari, to see how the organization is growing and carrying on her son’s legacy.


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Hiking as therapy

FVC: Thanks for talking. Can you provide some background on how BeMorr Society came to be?

AMM: My son, Brook Morrison, struggled with anxiety, depression and PTSD following his his dad’s suicide in 2013. Sadly, we lost Brook in September of 2020 and after that, as a family, we really decided that we needed to do something to help others who struggle with mental health and also those who have been impacted by suicide. So that was how things started.

FVC: How did Brook influence how you approached that? Can you tell me what kind of a person Brook was?

AMM: Brooke was a great person. He loved the outdoors, he had a passion for hiking. So that’s why we do a lot of hikes and stuff with BeMorr.

He was the type of person—hiking was his therapy, you know. He did seek out counseling for his depression and anxiety. He was loved by so many people, he had so many friends; he met so many friends along the trails. He did the Pacific Crest Trail one year and the numbers of people he met there… he really made an impact on all of them.

A reddit post by Brook in which he wrote about quitting his job to hike that trail went semi-viral in 2018. After Brook died, hikers across North America wrote about meeting Brook on the trail.

AMM: He was always the type of person that would be open about talking about mental health, and he would encourage his friends to talk about it too. He would help everyone else, you know, probably more than himself.

FVC: How did that inspire kind of how you folks decided to shape the development of the non-profit?

AMM: [Addressing] the ease of access to counseling was one thing that we wanted to do. I know from Brook that the cost was sometimes a barrier. That’s a big thing that we found as well.

So we have counseling assistance programs where we provide up to 100% financial assistance for mental health counseling. And so that’s one of our big things. And another big part of it is creating awareness around mental health and suicide and opening up the conversations about it, because some people they just don’t want to talk about it.

So that’s a big aspect of what we do as well to get the word out there and get people in conversations. My daughter-in-law Danielle and I do a presentation called Talk About It. So we ourselves share our personal stories, and we get the audience to participate in that too [in order] to make people feel more comfortable about talking about it.

FVC: Is that something that’s inspired by Brook’s own willingness to talk about it?

AMM: Absolutely.

FVC: When did you guys start BeMorr?

AMM: We became incorporated in January 2021, and this year we received our registered charitable status as well. So that’s quite the feat.

FVC: How has it grown since then?

AMM: It has grown a lot. We are partnered with a local councillor here and through our program, we refer people through them. Since we started in January 2021, we’ve supported probably close to 500 counseling sessions now. So quite a few, and it’s growing.

FVC: What’s it like knowing it’s had that impact?

AMM: It’s such a good feeling knowing that we’re doing something to help. It’s just an incredible feeling. We’re taking this tragic event, this tragedy in our family, and we want to turn it around and do something good with it. And, you know, it’s the best feeling to be able to help others.

Later this month, the society will host its first Hawaiian Gala, a dinner with entertainment to raise money for the society’s programs. More details can be found here.

FVC: Can you tell me about the Hawaiian Gala?

AMM: We are having our first annual Hawaiian shirt gala on Sept. 17 and it’s being held at the Clarion Hotel here in Abbotsford. This is one of our bigger fundraisers that we’re doing this year.

The whole theme came about [because] Brook’s best friend wanted to do something special—I’ll backtrack a little bit.

Brook and his friends would have a lot of themed parties, and they would be at our house—at the Morrison house. And the Hawaiian theme was a favorite. So his friend asked if we could do some kind of event with that Hawaiian theme. I said, ‘Absolutely. Let’s do a Hawaiian-shirt gala.’ So that’s what we’re doing.

We’ve got a great evening plan with a full dinner, we have speakers, we have some awesome entertainment lined up. We have a silent auction, raffles and that kind of thing. We also have a DJ coming in to start a dance party at the end of the evening. So it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

We’ve also got our special guest emcee: Keri Adams from CTV is joining us as well. So, that’s great. Yeah, so we’re gonna, it’s gonna be a great event. We’re hoping to fill the room and get people in there. And, you know, yeah, and just, you know, and all work together to support mental health and do something good.

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Last year, we spoke to one of the councillors working with BeMorr Society about taking her counselling service outside Read that story here.

FVC: It seems like there’s a connecting theme between the outdoor wellness aspect of how Brook tried to approach his mental health and some of the other activities you support like the Hawaiian Gala. Mental health is a pretty heavy topic and it seems like you’re trying to find a not-so-heavy way to approach it. Is that intentional?

AMM: I don’t know if it was really intentional but yeah, having a theme like this that’s something fun can get people in the room and starting to talk about mental health [by] creating a lighter atmosphere and not making it such a bad thing to talk about.

FVC How does talking about things like depression and suicide help?

AMM: Keeping it to yourself is not healthy for [your] physical body, your mental health, everything. There’s a lot of people out there that are struggling with it but they’re scared to talk about it or say anything. They think they’re going to be shamed or something. For us to start talking about it makes it easier for everyone else to come out and start speaking about it and getting the help that they need.

FVC: BeMorr supports people to access counseling. If somebody reads this and is in need of support to access counseling, how can they go about getting that?

AMM: They can just go to our website and on our website, we have an access counseling tab that they would click on. And right there, they would fill out an intake form. Generally, within 24 hours, we’ll have someone connected to them to do a quick intake over the phone on our app, and then we will get them to our counselors as soon as possible.

So we’re trying to really eliminate the long wait times. We’ve got a great group of counselors right now that we’re working with and they’ve been awesome.

FVC: What’s your sense about the scale of the demand for counselling that’s out there?

AMM: It’s definitely increased. Since COVID, of course, a lot, a lot more people are realizing that they do need some counseling. You can see it everywhere that the need for it has increased, and we see it every month. We have more and more people that are contacting us and needing help. So we just see it from our end too.


Join more than 25,000 other Fraser Valley residents by subscribing to our newsletter. Every weekday morning you’ll get a new feature story and other stories, news, and events from Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Mission and the rest of the valley. See a recent newsletter here.

Get FV Current in your inbox.

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By filling out the form above, you consent to receive emails from Fraser Valley Current. You can unsubscribe at any time. View our privacy policy here.

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Tyler Olsen

Managing Editor at Fraser Valley Current

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