Brothers Paul and Chris Sutton of Cranbrook, who earlier this year brought the Sacred Sons men’s movement from California to the Kootenays, have decided to branch away and create their own group called Rising Wolf.
“The reason that we did that is to adapt what the Sacred Sons do to land more with Mr. Canada and Mr. Kootenays,” Paul explained. “We were feeling like there was a little bit of a disconnect between the California fellas and the Canadian fellas and what we wanted to do was really gear our healing and what we offer to the men specifically in our community.”
The brothers have had success doing just that over the past year; hosting bi-weekly circles, helping and supporting men deal with the problems in their lives and promoting the removal of stigmas surrounding mens’ health.
COVID forced a pause in their regular meetings and Paul said they had a bit of trouble getting back on their feet and then getting guys in the door once the meetings resumed with different regulations. However, the brothers worked hard throughout the summer to get things moving again.
They held circles outside at Wycliffe Park and then just recently moved into the Studio Stage Door where they can still keep the guys socially distant and abide by COVID protocols throughout the winter months.
This month is also Movember, and the Suttons are working to shed more light on men’s health in the community. They’ve paired up with Fitness Inc., Home Hardware, Reflex Supplement Store and the Gentlemen’s Mark barbershop to put their heads together and see what they could do to help the men in the area.
“Through our research and even reaching out to Interior Health and Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) what we found is there’s not really a resource for just strictly guys health for guys to come together, except for us,” Paul said.
He said that prompted him and his brother to reevaluate how big of a thing they had going in Cranbrook, and to, as he put it, change from being a group of guys meeting every two weeks to actually becoming an official non-profit society.
They are now gearing things up for Movember. They developed mens only spin classes held twice a week at Fitness Inc.
“Chris and I both have done both the two that we already held, two spin classes in less than 12 hours both of us hit em up and it was wild. So we have developed that strictly for guys by guys and it’s taught by the male trainer here at the gym. It’s 30 minutes, it’s in the dark with laser lights and loud bumpin’ music.”
They are also setting up at Home Hardware every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a variety of team members rotating through, handing out mental health resources and smiles.
They’ve also created a donation box that doubles as a ballot box. Donations will be collected, with a portion being sent to the Movember Foundation to help combat cancer worldwide. Another portion will be going towards a local charity they will choose that they feel needs it the most. The rest of the money will go into Rising Wolf in order for them to better provide men with the support they need.
Paul said that might be anything from haircuts, dental appointments, vehicle maintenance or counselling.
The ballots that go into the box enter to win an “ultimate mens healthcare package,” which will include gift certificates from Reflex, haircuts from The Gentlemen’s Mark, gym memberships, plus swag from Rising Wolf.
“Paul and I are actually going to out campaigning today and see what other kinds of donations we can get,” Chris said. “The more stuff the better, the more businesses and people that we can get on board, the more awareness we can bring, the more money we can bring the more help that we can offer.”
Since getting this movement going, Paul and Chris have witnessed profound growth in the men who attend their meetings as well as within themselves.
Paul said they’ve had a couple of guys who came to attend the circle early on, who now partially make up their core group. One of them, the first time he tried to attend, could hardly make it there due to bad anxiety, but now he wants to help lead.
“It’s really, really been making a big difference to a lot of the guys just in giving them a place to put their stuff,” Paul said.
“The brotherhood of it is really awesome and not only do Paul and I support everybody but we get a lot of internal support from the guys who also want to help with the experiences that they’ve had in their lives,” Chris added.
Chris said that he’s gone through a huge personal transition since embarking on this journey, going from a relatively anti-social, closed off person, to someone who revels in leaving his comfort zone and sharing his feelings with anyone and everyone.
“It’s really just pushed me to grow myself,” Chris said. “Not only that, but to really push to be a part of the community. Paul and I have both grown up here, so for us to be able to show support to the community that supported us over the last 30-some years. it feels really good to me.”
Paul said that for him, the best thing that’s happened over the past year is seeing this change transpire in his little brother.
“It’s been a huge year for him over this last year and he went from being Mr. Super-Duper Tough Guy to hugs almost every dude that he comes across,” Paul said. “The growth that we’ve both had together and our relationship is the best that it’s ever been. We’re working on being healthy together instead of going out and partying and carrying on like we used to do.”
He added that he does these groups for himself as much as he does for everyone else.
“Helping the guys helps me continue to do my work on me and it keeps me accountable to continue my growth as well,” Paul said.
On Nov. 18 he will fly back to California for round two of his Sacred Sons facilitator training, so that he can bring those lessons back home with him and share it with his group. He said that even though he has anxiety about going to the U.S. amid the drama of the election and having to quarantine upon arrival, he knows the experience will be well worth it.
He said he feels the work he and his brother are doing is important now more than ever with so much strife and uncertainty abounding in the world.
“Things like addiction and alcoholism, domestic abuse, cancer, all that stuff is not going away,” he said. “In fact, since the lockdown, things like alcoholism, addiction and domestic abuse, the rates are up in some spots, close to 400 per cent. So I think it means more now than ever to continue to support people in the best way that we can and we will continue to do that whatever the future for us looks like.”
The brothers said they are realistic to the possibility of a second wave of COVID and the implications that may bring, but they’re dedicated to consistency and keeping their work on track, for their community and themselves.
“We want to encourage as many people in the community to reach out to us as possible to get involved in this, because the more we normalize this, the more we break the stigmas that surround men’s health, be that mental or physical or spiritual,” Paul said. “Historically as men we haven’t been the greatest at taking care of ourselves, or asking help in doing so.
“So when a whole community gets together to say hey we support this cause, it really helps what we’re doing and we really have started to see that already.”
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