Phylicia Torrevillas/Metro More than 600 people took part in the Rally for Recovery Sunday at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

“Recovery is a reality.”

Lorinda Strang, executive director of the Orchard Recovery and Treatment Center on Bowen Island, said that she and the more than 600 people who took part in the Rally for Recovery at the Vancouver Art Gallery Sunday are living proof that recovery works.

“Masses of people have walked through the path of addiction, have come out the other side and are living productive lives today,” said Strang, who has been 23 years sober and one of the main organizers of the event.

The event — the first of its kind of Canada — featured many “stories of gratitude” and musical performances by recovering addicts inspired by their road to sobriety.

Jamie Courtorielle, an ex-drug addict turned motivational speaker from Edmonton, is cycling across Canada to help at-risk youth fight addiction with his campaign Riding 4 Mentors and made a stop in Vancouver to lend his support.

“Addiction destroys our communities and our families, but most of all, it destroys ourselves,” said Courtorielle, who started smoking crack at age 13 and became addicted to crystal meth at 15.

The 27-year-old has now been clean for three-and-a-half years.

“Hopes, dreams and careers — they are all achievable in recovery,” he said.

Courtorielle and Park Board Commissioner Constance Barnes, who has been sober from alcohol for three-and-a-half years, led the march that celebrates the hope in recovery.

Earlier, City Coun. Geoff Meggs and Barnes tag-teamed in reading Mayor Gregor Robertson’s official proclamation, recognizing Sept. 20, 2012 as Recovery Day.

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