A UBC Okanagan student spent his summer doing something he is passionate about — raising awareness for mental health.
Mikey Friedland cycled from the 49th parallel (the Canada-US border at Osoyoos) to Tuktoyaktuk (the Inuvialuit town on the Arctic Ocean) by himself. His goal was to raise awareness and money for the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Ride Don’t Hide initiative. So far, he has raised more than $27,000, more than double his fundraising goal.
Friedland is also an aspiring documentary filmmaker. He left Osoyoos on May 21 with a secondhand touring bike, panniers stuffed full with supplies, his camera and a drone. He also had absolutely no long-distance cycling experience before starting his trek.
“When I started, I took a photo of myself at the Welcome to B.C. sign in Osoyoos. When I saw the same sign from the opposite side, crossing into the Yukon, it was absolutely the coolest thing in my entire life,” said Friedland.
The journey is also a personal one for him. Friedland planned to go on exchange with UBCO’s Go Global program, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He took a year off of school and moved to Revelstoke to spend the winter skiing. In the spring, Friedland experienced loneliness and seasonal depression despite being surrounded by friends. He felt unhappy and lost motivation to do a lot of things.
“Having a goal is very important to me,” he said. “When I’m working toward something, that’s when I’m at my happiest and best. So, I found a goal, riding my bike as far north as I physically can before going back to school.”
“This hasn’t been an easy journey, but it has certainly been an amazing experience,” he added. “Every day I’m in a new area, and every few hours, a new ecosystem.”
Contributions to his campaign can be made here.