Raising awareness for mental health one soda bottle at a time

A relationship that started on social media has led to a delicious and meaningful collaboration between local craft soda company, Canalside Soda Co., and Canadian rock band, The Strumbellas.

In early 2021 Sean Polden, Chief Soda Officer of Canalside Soda Company, was thrilled to learn one of his favourite bands, the Toronto-based The Strumbellas were fans of fun, fizzy sodas. After some back and forth on Instagram, they came up with an idea for a soda collaboration that would also raise money for mental health initiatives.

“I’ve seen the impact of mental health and addiction firsthand in my own life and in the lives of those around me. I know I’m not alone,” Polden says. “As a fan of The Strumbellas, I appreciate how open they are about their own struggles as well as highlighting the need for organizations like the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.”

The new soda, Greatest Blueberry, was inspired by The Strumbella’s latest single, “Greatest Enemy,” their first release since the cancellation of their nationwide tour in January 2020. The band made the difficult decision to cancel the tour so lead singer Simon Ward could seek treatment for mental health issues.

Through this experience, the Strumbellas have become advocates for mental health awareness and work hard to promote the importance of research in this space. The band partnered with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for the release of “Greatest Enemy” in order to raise awareness and donations for the organization.

After learning the story behind “Greatest Enemy” and in response to the struggles faced by so many Canadians in the past year, Canalside Soda felt that CAMH Foundation was the perfect organization to support through the sale of Greatest Blueberry.

The limited-edition soda is a mouthful of flavour that combines Quebec Wild Blueberry, the sour tart of lemon, and the mild pungent sweetness of basil. Greatest Blueberry is available in 750ml bottles and is being sold for $12 a bottle with all profits being donated to CAMH Foundation.

“We worked with CAMH on the release of “Greatest Enemy” to raise awareness and provide our fans with opportunities to donate,” says The Strumbellas. “Finding a partner in Canalside Soda has been great. We’ve enjoyed creating the Greatest Blueberry and working together to help end the stigma around mental health.”

In addition to creating the soda flavour, Polden worked with Limited Distilling in Niagara-on-the-Lake to make a signature cocktail. Dubbed the Greatest Cocktail, the drink includes Greatest Blueberry soda, Limited Gin, and basil leaves, all topped with a lemon wheel garnish.

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