5th Annual
‘Helping the Helpers’

Awareness and Education Day For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

We held our 5th Annual Awareness and Education Day for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on October 27th, 2018, at St. Francis Xavier University Schwartz Auditorium. With presentations from frontline professionals, clinicians and family members.

Details

‘Coping and Dealing with PTSD for Frontline Professionals and Families’

This is a great information sharing day from front line professionals sharing their lived experience of living with PTSD and front line professionals providing clinical expertise.

Gallery

Here are a few pictures from the 5th Annual Helping the Helpers held on October 27th, 2018.

Schedule 2018 Conference

Schedule subject to change, please check back here periodically.

0730 – 0830 hrs  Registration
0830 – 0845 hrs Welcome Remarks Master of Ceremony Starr Cunningham President & CEO Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia
0845 – 0900 hrs  Opening Remarks Sean Fraser Liberal MP Central Nova
0900 – 0930 hrs Christine Penney, Senior Executive Director for the Safety Branch, Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education
0930 – 1015 hrs Dr. Howard Conter Tema Conter Memorial Trust
1015 – 1030 hrs  Morning Break
1030 – 1100 hrs  John Garth MacDonald ACP Paramedic, PTSD Survivor
1100 – 1145 hrs Michelle MacDonald RN MN, Spouse of ACP Paramedic Survivor
1145 – 1200 hrs Liam Brophy Performing a Song He Wrote “The Road Not Travelled”
1200 – 1300 hrs Lunch and last viewing for auction items. Bidding closes at 1300 hrs.
1300 – 1345 hrs Kathy Rolfe Psychologist, Police Officer Effects PTSD has on families
1345 – 1415 hrs Guy LeBlanc, Retired Correctional Officer
1415 – 1430 hrs Auction items: Announcement of successful bidding
1430 – 1500 hrs Lisa Partridge along with Rocsie (Helping the Helpers Ambassador) Service Dogs for PTSD
1500 – 1515 hrs Afternoon Break
1515 – 1600 hrs Gregory Armstrong Chaplain, former Paramedic Toronto Paramedic Services
1600 – 1630 hrs Jamie MacWhirter, Canadian Military Veteran
1630 – 1700 hrs Question and Answer Panel
1700 – 1715 hrs Closing Remarks (Alma Farrell & John Pellerin)

Guest Speakers

Starr Cunningham

We are honoured to have Starr as our Master of Ceremony for our 5th annual Helping the Helpers education and awareness day this year on October 27th at the Schwartz Auditorium St. FX University.

Starr Cunningham is the President & CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. An acclaimed journalist, best-selling children’s author, and dedicated community volunteer, Starr holds an Honours Journalism Degree from the University of King’s College.

Read More

Starr is the Co-Chair of the Nova Scotia Minister’s Panel on Innovation in Mental Health & Addictions. She is a National Recipient of a Difference Makers – 150 Canadians Leading for Mental Health Award from CAMH – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She is the 2017 Halifax Business Awards Business Person of the Year Silver Recipient and the Northwood Foundation 2017 Live More Advocacy Award Winner.

Starr currently serves on the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund Advisory Committee for the Atlantic Region, the Nova Scotia / Prince Edward Island St. John Ambulance Board of Directors and the Moore Suites Advisory Board.

Starr writes a monthly column for “Senior Living” and is a regular contributor to “Our Children” magazine.

Sean Fraser

We are honoured once again to have Sean given opening remarks at our 5th Annual Helping the Helpers education and awareness day this year on October 27th, 2018 in Antigonish Nova Scotia at St FX University Schwartz Auditorium.

Sean Fraser is a devoted father and husband and has the pleasure to serve as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Central Nova. Sean is a Pictou County native with family throughout the Town and County of Antigonish.

Read More

He graduated from East Pictou Rural High School and holds a law degree from Dalhousie University, a Masters degree in Public International Law from the Netherlands’ Leiden University, and a Bachelor of Science from St. Francis Xavier University. Prior to running for office, Sean had a successful career with one of Canada`s top-ranked law firms.

Sean is a long-time volunteer, having served as the Vice President of a local branch of the United Nations Association of Canada, acted as a Research Fellow with the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, and provided pro bono legal services to the Boys and Girls Club and underprivileged community members. While attending StFX, Sean served as President of the St. Francis Xavier Student`s Union in 2005 to 2006.

Sean is dedicated in his service to the constituents in Central Nova with priorities around economic development and job creation, social justice a healthy environment and ensuring that Canada does right by the world. He is currently on the Standing Committees for Infrastructure, Transport and Communities as well as the committee for Status of Women. Sean has been an advocate for the mental health of first responders in Ottawa, including speaking in the House to Bill C-211 regarding the National Framework for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Christine Penney

We are honoured to have Christine Penney from the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education as one of our guest speakers at at our 5th Annual Helping the Helpers education and awareness day this year on October 27th at the Schwartz Auditorium St. FX University Antigonish Nova Scotia.

Read More

Christine started her career with the public service in 1993 and has held several operational and leadership roles during her 25 years with the Nova Scotia Public Service.

In her current role as the Senior Executive Director for the Safety Branch, Christine is responsible for providing strategic direction on all safety matters for the government of Nova Scotia related to both Technical and Occupational Health and Safety.

Christine is a seasoned public service leader, with significant experience leading, innovating and transforming government regulatory programs. The focus of her time and work with government has largely been spent in the compliance regime in both the environmental and safety sectors trying the offer a more balanced approach to stakeholders.

Christine also has significant experience in shaping workplace climates, leading and developing teams for the purpose of solving problems to advance complex business solutions and building relationships with other leaders and partners at all levels.

Christine was on the board of directors for Nova Scotia’s Resources Recovery Fund Board and Co-Sponsored for Nova Scotia’s Workplace Safety Strategy. Christine was also the winner of several awards for her leadership excellence including The Malcolm Sparrow Award for Excellence in Regulatory Practice, the Minister’s Award of Excellence for Innovative Program Development and the Friends of Industry Award for Long-time Stewardship to Waste Water Nova Scotia.

Dr. Howard Conter

We are honoured to have Dr. Howard Conter as one of our guest speakers this year at our 5th annual Helping the Helpers education and awareness day this year on October 27th at St. FX University Schwartz Auditorium.

Dr. Howard Conter was born and raised in Halifax Nova Scotia. Born in 1959, Howard attended the Halifax Grammar School participating in all activities the school could offer, including the school’s athletic programs, an achievement made simply given the school’s petite population. Howard graduated the Halifax Grammar School in 1977 with honours. From Grammar, Howard travelled around the corner to Dalhousie University. Successfully completing his B.Sc. continuing his education at Dalhousie Medical School graduating in 1986. A year later he began his tenure as the Halifax Citadels’ team physician, a position that he saw through that franchise’s closure and into the infancy of the Halifax Mooseheads, eventually moving on in 2003.

Read More

Howard has participated and volunteered in many professional positions including the Regional Medical Coordinator for Air Canada, a Trustee for the QEII Foundation in addition to being the Medical Director for the Halifax Regional Police Department.

In 1993 Howard, along with his partners, founded MSHJ Research Associates. MSHJ successfully performed third party clinical trials for various international pharmaceuticals. By 1998, Howard was asked to join the cast of “regulars” appearing on CBC as the National Medical Columnist where he reported on various health-related issues and is also a medical guest on Global Television. A life of glitz and glamour no family physician had experienced in modern times. Perhaps the precursor to his life on the stage lending his notoriety to a Neptune Theatre production of “Annie,” taking on the challenging roll of “Judge.” He retired from the stage soon after noting the spotlight was no place for a doctor – his patients would always need to come first.

Howard’s medical background not only allows him to maintain a successful, and ever-expanding private practice, but has also allowed him the pleasure of participating in international events including the World Figure Skating Championships, Canadian Winter Games, and the World Junior Hockey Championships in 2002-2003, to name a few.

In what his family jokes as his “free time”, Howard is actively involved in various charity endeavors such as the Halifax Jewish Community, where he sat as the President of the Atlantic Jewish Council from 2008 – 2010, and as first Vice President on the Board of the Beth Israel Synagogue. He is also a board member of the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, an organization close to his heart.

Howard is also heavily involved in The Children’s Wish Foundation and Air Canada’s Dream Take Flight. In recognition of his many efforts outside of the office, Howard received Family SOS’s “Courage To Give Back” award in 2012 for his ongoing commitment to his community.

Howard recently celebrated his 35-year of marriage to his wife Karen (Abramsky), surrounded by friends and family.

John Garth MacDonald

We are honoured to have John Garth MacDonald as one of our guest speakers at our 5th annual Helping the Helpers education and awareness day this year on October 27th, 2018 at the Schwartz Auditorium St. FX University.

John Garth MacDonald started his career as an EMT in 1990 with Curry Brothers of Antigonish and then in 1998 with Emergency Medical Care.He was a Safety Coach for Emergency Medical Care, conducting Provincial Collision Investigations in 2004.

Read More

John Garth was a supervisor EMC for the Antigonish/Guysborough counties in 2005 and carried this responsibility for 5 years in which he provided leadership and supervision to 30 staff.

Continuing his commitment to patient care, he furthered his education and completed his Advanced Care Paramedic Diploma in 2006 and was one of the first Advanced Care Paramedic in the Antigonish area.

John Garth carried many provincial committee responsibilities for EMC and volunteer committees which often took him across the province and in 2010 he received the NS Provincial Long Service Medal Award along with being nominated by his peers and received the Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal which was federally recognized award also in this year. He continued to be an Advanced Care Paramedic until the time of his injury in 2010.

John Garth became employed with Industrial Paramedics Services of Alberta in 2012 where he is a Clinic Coordinator and continues that position to date.

In 2014 after being a speaker for Helping the Helpers Education Day, John Garth became a strong vocal advocate for PTSD and mental health, and is currently Chairperson of this Education Day held annually.

Through the Tema Conter Memorial Trust he was chosen as recipient for the Public Service Award in 2016 and was recognized by Members of the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia on receiving this award. John Garth is considered a pillar in the Paramedicine community, and is well-known and respected throughout Nova Scotia in his field. Many look to John Garth for personal and professional support and have sought to provide the same exemplary level of Paramedicine that he displays unreservedly every day.

Through the Tema Conter Memorial Trust in May of 2017 he was chosen to be a TEMA Ambassador for Nova Scotia.

John Garth continues to share his lived experience with PTSD by speaking and presenting to professional organizations and community groups which helps to break down the stigma associated with this injury.

Michelle MacDonald

We are honoured to have Michelle as one of our guest speakers at our 5th annual Helping the Helpers education and awareness day this year on October 27th, 2018 at the Schwartz Auditorium St. FX University.

Michelle has been a Registered Nurse for 24 years with a clinical background in Mental Health Nursing having worked 14 years on a Certified Mental Health Unit.Additionally to this she has clinical background experience in Long Term Care and Policy development and was employed as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.

Read More

Since 2011 she was been employed with the Nova Scotia Government working in the capacity as a Client Support Advisor and Care Coordinator with the Disability Support Program under the umbrella of the Department of Community Services.

She has recently accepted a new 3 year employment opportunity as a secondment position within the Nova Scotia Government Public Service Commission as Navigator for the new Office of Workplace MentalHealth.

Michelle went onto complete a Masters in Nursing in 2015 from the University of Southern Queensland Australia.

Michelle is proud to call herself the spouse of John Garth MacDonald who is an Advanced Care Paramedic who in 2010 suffered an occupational injury known at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Through this horrific journey Michelle had to become advocate for not only John Garth but for the entire family. It was a traumatic journey of trying to navigate a broken and fractured mental health system.

She is pleased to be here to share with you her family’s lived experience of suffering through and living with PTSD and how this horrific experience has empowered her entire family.

Kathy Rolfe

For those of you who have not heard Kathy speak she not only has a powerful message for first responders but also family members who are affected by a loved one who has PTSD.

Kathy joined the military fresh out of high school and 5 years later graduated from the University of Alberta with an undergraduate degree in Criminology. 6.5 years later after achieving a commissioned officer rank, she joined the Edmonton Police Service. She has been a police officer for over 17 years and has worked in various areas – including the Gang and Drugs Unit, The Drug Undercover Street Team, a provincial task force for Organized Crime that was integrated with the RCMP, Canada Border Customs, the EPS and Camrose Police, and served the majority of her career on the front line in patrol as a constable, a squad Sergeant and as a temporary acting Staff Sergeant.

Read More

As a member of the EPS Critical Incident Stress Management team for over 10 years, Kathy has seen firsthand the importance of supporting members of emergency services, Veterans, military personnel and their families. In 2009, Kathy began full time Graduate School while balancing full time police work.

Kathy registered as a psychologist in Alberta with a dual specialization in Clinical Psychology and Behavior modification, and she offers therapy in both an office setting and using horses in an Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy modality. She is the owner of her own psychology practice – Balance Psychological Services – in addition to continuing her employment with the police service.

Kathy has presented on the topics of Seasonal Affective Disorder, stress, resiliency, and life transitions such as job loss. She also facilitates Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy workshops for Leadership, Communication, PTSD and Couples. In 2015, she co-facilitated a workshop with Veterans with PTSD and their families with CanPraxis, which is the Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy subset of the Wounded Warriors Canada program.

Kathy is a member of the Green Cross, which deploys internationally for disaster crisis, as well as a member of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and the National Center for Crisis Management. She is also a member of EMDRIA, which is the Canadian Association for trauma processing using the EMDR protocol.

Kathy also has a familial understanding of serving members of the military and emergency services, as her husband is former military – a 7 year member of the 1 Combat Engineer Regiment with 2 overseas deployments to his credit. He is currently a drug detective and 15-year member of the EPS. They live with 6 horses and 2 dogs on their ranch just outside of Edmonton.

Guy LeBlanc

We are honoured to have Guy LeBlanc as one of our guest speakers at our 5th Annual Helping the Helpers education and awareness day this year on October 27th, 2018 in Antigonish Nova Scotia at St FX University Schwartz Auditorium.

My name is Guy LeBlanc, I am 35yrs old. I live in Memramcook NB and I have worked as a correctional officer for 13yrs. At age 22 when I first started working as a corrections officer for Correctional Services of Canada, I was posted to a Maximum security institution. Atlantic institution at the time housed approx. 240 to 260 inmates.

Read More

As a member of the EPS Critical Incident Stress Management team for over 10 years, Kathy has seen firsthand the importance of supporting members of emergency services, Veterans, military personnel and their families. In 2009, Kathy began full time Graduate School while balancing full time police work.

Kathy registered as a psychologist in Alberta with a dual specialization in Clinical Psychology and Behavior modification, and she offers therapy in both an office setting and using horses in an Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy modality. She is the owner of her own psychology practice – Balance Psychological Services – in addition to continuing her employment with the police service.

Kathy has presented on the topics of Seasonal Affective Disorder, stress, resiliency, and life transitions such as job loss. She also facilitates Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy workshops for Leadership, Communication, PTSD and Couples. In 2015, she co-facilitated a workshop with Veterans with PTSD and their families with CanPraxis, which is the Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy subset of the Wounded Warriors Canada program.

Kathy is a member of the Green Cross, which deploys internationally for disaster crisis, as well as a member of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and the National Center for Crisis Management. She is also a member of EMDRIA, which is the Canadian Association for trauma processing using the EMDR protocol.

Kathy also has a familial understanding of serving members of the military and emergency services, as her husband is former military – a 7 year member of the 1 Combat Engineer Regiment with 2 overseas deployments to his credit. He is currently a drug detective and 15-year member of the EPS. They live with 6 horses and 2 dogs on their ranch just outside of Edmonton.

Lisa Partridge

We are honoured to have Lisa as one of our guest speakers at our 5th Annual Helping the Helpers education and awareness day this year on October 27th, 2018 at the Schwartz Auditorium St. FX University along with Rocsie our Ambassador for the day.

Lisa has been training animals professionally for more than 30 years and has focused on the service dog field for the past 8 years. Developing expertise in training, behaviour modification and communication.

Read More

Along with training service dogs for clients living with PTSD, Lisa has worked with a number of groups to develop animal-assisted therapy programs, including a 2-year pilot project at the SeaStar Child and Youth Advocacy Centre at the IWK, Halifax, with her Therapy Dog, Rocsie.

The success of that pilot has resulted in the placement of a full time, accredited Facility Dog, PADS Dorado, at SeaStar one of only 30 in Canada and the very first in Atlantic Canada.

Lisa studied Animal Health Technology at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, and Fairview College, Alberta and earned her certification as a Canine Behaviour Consultant with ImPAWSible Possible Inc., Alberta.

Lisa has thousands of hours of consulting and training experience with service and therapy dogs and has developed relationships with a number of Accredited Service Dog schools, continuing her professional development through mentorship.

Gregory Armstrong

We are honoured to having Gregory Armstrong as one of our guest speakers this year at the 5th annual Helping the Helpers education day.

Greg is a former paramedic with Toronto Paramedic Services. He now serves as the Chaplain for Toronto Paramedic Services, the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, Springwater Fire and Emergency Services, Royal Victoria Hospital on call team and the Tema Conter Memorial Trust. Over the past 15 years Greg has also served as a Pastor with three different congregations in Simcoe County.

Read More

He is an an approved instructor with ICISF (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation) in Group Crisis Intervention and Pastoral Crisis Intervention and has served on a regional CISM team for thirteen + years. He is also an instructor in Psychological First Aid with the Tema Conter Memorial Trust as well as an instructor for R2MR with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and has completed training in the areas of Family Crisis Intervention, NOVA’s Crisis Response program, Traumatic Incident Reduction, Compassion Fatigue and Suicide Intervention. Greg has trained first responders and spiritual care providers across Canada.

Greg has served internationally in Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, and Jamaica, and also served at Ground Zero in the days following the attacks on the World Trade Centre. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing and scuba diving with his wife and two children. He is also a Certified Scuba Instructor and the owner/operator of TRITAN Underwater Services.

Cpl Jamie MacWhirter

We are honoured to have Cpl Jamie MacWhirter as one of our guest speakers this year at the 5th annual Helping the Helpers education day.

Joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1994 with the Second Royal Newfoundland Regiment, where he spent eight years training with them all over North America.

Read More

In 2004 he changed from infantry to a Mobile Support Equipment Operator (MSE OP) & was
Posted to CFB Edmonton where he spent eight years there and did a seven month tour in Afghanistan.

In 2011 he was posted back to Newfoundland at CFS St John’s

In 2012 Jamie released a book about his tour in Afghanistan & his battle with PTSD called “A Soldier’s Tale – A Newfoundland Soldier in Afghanistan”

He also runs a support group in St John’s for people with PTSD called PTSD Buddies. PTSD Buddies is one of the biggest online support groups for PTSD in the world.

Jamie has received two awards for his work in PTSD. In 2015 he received the Tema Conter Memorial Trust Public Service Award and also the Leadership award from the Canadian Mental Health Association Newfoundland & Labrador.

He is currently still posted in St John’s Newfoundland with his wife Vanessa & their two boys Avery & Cody.

Jamie now has released his second book called “A Soldier Returns – My Battle with PTSD and is also working on a third book about his great uncle who was the first Newfoundlander killed in WW1

Jamie wants everyone to know that if you or someone you know is suffering with PTSD then he and PTSD Buddies can help. Contact PTSD Buddies through Facebook or Twitter.

Entertainment

Liam Brophy

We are honoured to have Liam Brophy performing a song he wrote ” The Road Not Travelled ” this year at the 5th Annual Helping the Helpers education and awareness day on October 27th, 2018 at the Schwartz Auditorium St. FX University.

Liam Brophy is a singer/songwriter from Monastery, NS. When working as a paramedic came to an end after nearly a decade, that’s when his music career began.

Read More

His first and only album “Better Man Blues” and it’s success has allowed him to travel across both Canada and the US for audiences of all ages. His “soulful voice” and “solid guitar skills” are memories that everyone takes away from his performances.

“The Road Not Travelled” – A song about extreme heartache felt by many. This song is about little bits of what was going on in my mind at different times after the events that changed my life on December 27th, while at the same time being a thank you to the loved ones that stuck by our side during the turmoil that would follow. I still to this day, have never gone back to that road or worn those boots.

Location

This year’s event was held at St. Francis Xavier University Schwartz Auditorium.

StFX Schwartz Auditorium
3090 Martha Drive
Antigonish, Nova Scotia
B2G 2W5

Registration

Registration was a great success. This day would not have happened without the support and hard work of our committee members, major sponsors, volunteers, individuals and organizations who have supported us through fund raising and community initiatives.

To our guest speakers and Master of Ceremony words cannot express how much we appreciate you all for taking the time away from your family to be part of our day.

To all who were in attendance, it speaks volumes when we can all come together and be united in helping end the stigma associated with mental health injuries and illness. This day will continue because of all of you.

Thank you everyone!

Share This