Helping the Helpers - Not all Injuries are Visible

The 10th Annual Awareness & Education Day for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

October 26, 2024 • Antigonish, Nova Scotia

9th Annual
‘Helping the Helpers’

Awareness and Education Day For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Saturday, October 28, 2023 was the date for the 9th Helping the Helpers Awareness and Education Day!

The event took place at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. We were once again able to offer another exceptional day of sharing, education and support for First Responders and their families and coworkers who are dealing with PTSD or other psychological workplace injuries. Please mark your calendars and check back to the website regularly for updates and registration information on future events!

Suggestions for speakers are most welcome and may be sent by email to

Helping The Helpers - 5th Annual Education & Awareness Day

2023 Schedule

7:30 – 8:30 am


8:30 – 8:35 am

Welcome Remarks

Jason Maclean, Master of Ceremonies

8:35 – 8:45 am

Worker’s Compensation Board of Nova Scotia

Karen Adams, CEO

8:45 – 9:00 am

Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration

Brad Wells, Operational Stress
Management Group

9:00 – 9:25 am

Sharing Lived Experience: Paramedic

Jayme Dooling

9:25 – 9:55 am

Refreshment Break

Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership
4th floor

10:00 – 10:25 am

Sharing Lived Experience: Registered Nurse

Heidi Fraser

10:25 – 10:50 am

Sharing Lived Experience: Veterinarian

Dr. Andrew Johnson

10:50 – 11:15 am

Sharing Lived Experience: Fire Fighter

Jeff Hosick

11:15 – 11:45 am

Message from Children of First Responder

Sarah and Noah Armstrong

11:45 am – 12:45 pm

Lunch on your own

12:45 – 1:30 pm

Psychedelic Therapy for First Responders

Dr. Jeff Morley

1:30 – 1:55 pm

Sharing Lived Experience: Social Worker

Tonya Jennings

1:55 – 2:20 pm

Sharing Lived Experience: Military Member

David MacLeod

2:20 – 2:40 pm

Refreshment Break

Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership
4th floor

2:40 – 3:05 pm

Sharing Lived Experience: Correctional Officer

Guy Leblanc

3:05 – 3:35 pm

Understanding Dreams: After the Call of Duty

George Dunne

3:35 – 4:00 pm

Sharing Lived Experience: RCMP Member

Angie Hawryluk

4:00 – 4:45 pm

Spouses Panel Discussion

Moderator: Jason MacLean;
Panelists: Jason and Debbie Fortune; Maureen Brennan and Kevin Donahue

4:45 – 5:00 pm

Closing Remarks Announcement

Helping the Helpers Committee


Karen Adams

CEO, Worker’s Compensation Board of Nova Scotia

Karen Adams is a CEO and Board Director with international and multi-industry experience. She became the CEO of WCB Nova Scotia in August 2023. 

Karen was recognized in 2017 as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network and was voted by her peers as “CEO of the Year” by Wealth Professional in 2019.

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Karen has served as the CEO of numerous companies, including Fundserv Inc, Alberta Pensions Corporation, and HSBC Bank. She is a change leader, repeatedly managing large technology transformation projects and leading people through cultural change.

Although born and raised in Toronto, Karen spent much of her career outside Canada. She has lived and worked in Mumbai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Dubai, London and Amman.

Karen snowshoed 100 km across the Article Circle on The True Patriot Love Women’s Expedition – Baffin Island 2019, raising over $1 million to support Canadian military members, Veterans, and their families.

Karen has a double major in Mathematics and Economics from Queen’s University in Kingston, an MBA in International Finance from The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and an ICD.D designation from The Rotman School of Management and Institute of Corporate Directors.


Brad Wells

Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration

Meet Brad Wells, Awareness and Outreach Officer, Safety Branch with the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration. Brad started his career running his own business in the technology sector and had worked in leadership and client-focused solution areas for over 10 years prior to joining the Government in 2005.

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Brad joined the Safety Branch – Occupational Health and Safety Division in 2014 and has held numerous positions at the Branch including several years as the Information Specialist, before becoming an Awareness and Outreach Officer in 2021. Brad has been a member of the Occupational Stress Management team for over 5 years at the Safety Branch and enjoys assisting his peers with support and confidential assistance when they have been exposed to operational stress.

Jayme Dooling


Jayme Dooling is a former certified Primary Care Paramedic who worked a 6.5 year career with Emergency Health Services (EHS) Nova Scotia.

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Entering the profession after her own personal trauma, she was driven to give back and make a difference in the lives of those in her community, just as the paramedics who had made such a difference in her own life, had done before her.

“The straw that broke the camels back”. That one moment that changes everything for you in life. That one moment as you quickly analyze and assess your safety or lack thereof. That one moment that can change or end a career. Paramedics are witness to some of life’s worst moments. And after 6 years Jayme suffered a mental health injury. The one day that broke the camels back. Suddenly life was extremely different. Reaching out for help and acknowledging that she was struggling, she was delivered with a diagnosis of PTSD.

Through years of therapy and the integration of a variety of explorations into healing modalities, of the holistic and scientific community, she is finding her way through. There is hope and there is healing even with a diagnosis of PTSD.

“ But I finally got sewed up
I set a time, then I showed up
Now the weight of the world ain’t so bad
I saw the end, it looks just like the middle”
– Noah Kahan, No complaints 2023.

Heidi Fraser

Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse, daughter, sister, partner, fur mom, step mom, friend, auntie, sober support, infertility advocate and most importantly, mental health and substance abuse survivor and advocate.

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Born and raised in Sherbrooke NS. In 2012, I graduated from STFX with my Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. Nursing took me across Canada and allowed me to make meaningful connections, while exploring our beautiful country. From day one after graduation, no challenge was ever too big- I hit the ground running and loved embarking on new adventures. 10 years of community health, and Emergency room nursing left me with such invaluable skills and knowledge. About 7 years into my career, I faced multiple kinds of losses within a very brief time. Unhealthy coping mechanisms were the easiest way to avoid the pain and hurt. I held too much pride, as a helper, to ask for help myself.

Addiction and Mental Health struggles forced me to step back from my nursing career. I became a stranger to my family, friends and co-workers. The fall to rock bottom took no time at all, however my recovery journey is a lifetime job. I’ve become my own #1 advocate, sought help and will continue to spread awareness of mental illness everywhere I go.

Dr. Andrew Johnson


Dr. Johnson grew up In Truro, NS, and is the youngest of a family of seven siblings.  He did an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.  After working a few years he returned to college, receiving my DVM from the Atlantic Veterinary College at UPEI in 1999. 

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Dr. Johnson worked in the State of Maine, following a path of Farm Animal medicine.  He returned to Canada in 2003, becoming an associate veterinarian at the Antigonish Veterinary Clinic.  He specializes in small animal medicine and surgery, but still dabbles with Farm Animals when the need arises. 

He is married to Patricia and dabbles in woodworking and taking his three-legged dog out for walks.  He really enjoy mentoring young students who wish to pursue a life in Veterinary Medicine.

Jeff Hosick

Fire Fighter

Jeffrey Hosick is a 25 year volunteer firefighter, a fire department chaplain, a psychotherapist, and a professional speaker/trainer.

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Jeff has watched first responder organizations rise and fall. He developed a project called “How Do I Manage All this Toxic Workplace Drama” after seeing how organizations turn on itself and eat their own. The project is subtitled, “How do I say only 5 words that save 5 hours of conversation.” His intention is to help first responders stay on the job and retire on their own terms when they are ready. Jeff’s associates are caricatures called Elisha, the helpless elephant, Chris, the crankily crocodile, and Terry the terribly helpful tiger. When these archetypes rival each other, morale, professional safety, and workplace bullying rise and fall.

Noah Armstrong & Sarah Canfield


We’re Noah Armstrong and Sarah Canfield. Children of the late Greg Armstrong. Our Dad was an active supporter of Helping the Helpers and one of the speakers at the 2018 Education Day. He was a Chaplain with Toronto Paramedic Services and Springwater Fire and Emergency Services as well as an Educator with the Tema Foundation.

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His life was devoted to “helping the helpers”. Our Dad also suffered with PTSD himself and we’ll be sharing how his injury impacted his personal and family life.

Noah lives with his wife Melanie, new baby Josie, and golden retriever Riggs in Stayner, ON. Noah started his career in emergency services as a paid-on-call firefighter with Springwater Township, serving for 2 years. For the last 5 years he has been working full time as a Paramedic with the County of Simcoe. In his free time he enjoys running, mountain and gravel biking, and scuba diving.

Sarah lives with her husband Josiah in Wellesley, ON. Sarah graduated with a degree in kinesiology and is currently working as a personal trainer and a bridal consultant. In her free time she enjoys reading, board games with friends and family, and scuba diving.

Addiction and Mental Health struggles forced me to step back from my nursing career. I became a stranger to my family, friends and co-workers. The fall to rock bottom took no time at all, however my recovery journey is a lifetime job. I’ve become my own #1 advocate, sought help and will continue to spread awareness of mental illness everywhere I go.

Dr. Jeff Morley


Guardian Psychedelics was created by Dr. Jeff Morley. Jeff is a Registered Psychologist (#1577) and a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress. Jeff served 23 years as a police officer in the RCMP, retiring as a Staff Sergeant in 2013.

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Jeff currently works in a private practice in the Vancouver area. His practice is focused on treating first responders, as well as soldiers and military veterans. Jeff has a long standing interest in the therapeutic use of psychedelic medicines in helping people heal from different types of trauma.  Dr. Morley completed the 100 hour MDMA Therapy training certificate offered by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies ( He attends research and training conferences on psychedelic medicines and psychedelic therapy to continue to learn, and to stay current on all the latest research and science. Dr. Morley also speaks at conferences and to first responder groups about psychedelics and psychedelic therapy.

Tonya Jennings

Social Worker

Tonya has worked in various roles in Child Protective Services for over 23 years. She began her career as a Youth Counsellor and then enjoyed supporting children and families in her other roles as Case Aide and Family Support Worker. She has worked as a Child Protection Social Worker for the last ten years.

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In 2018, Tonya began noticing the accumulative effects of front-line social work and was diagnosed with Situational Adjustment Disorder and received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for a period of time. Tonya knew that the symptoms she was experiencing were becoming more severe and unmanageable but was unable to ask for help or to be completely honest about her experiences as the occupation is known as one of great stress and challenge at times. Further traumatic experiences in the workplace had profound effects on her mental and physical health as well as in her personal and professional life.

In the Fall of 2022, Tonya was diagnosed with PTSD after a traumatic workplace incident left her unable to cope. Luckily, a therapist who was arranged for Critical Incident Stress Debriefing two weeks after the incident noticed that she was in crisis and supported her in seeking healing. She currently participates in EMDR Therapy and guided meditation and hypnosis to address the traumas she has experienced.

Tonya also enjoys and benefits greatly from time with her two children ; Rowan and Reece and her partner, Danny. Along with therapy and staying close to nature, Tonya is healing and supporting others in this journey.

David MacLeod


David MacLeod served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 27 years and was medically released in 2010. He completed multiple overseas tours, including Cyprus, Bosnia, Kosovo, SW Asia, and Afghanistan. As a team member, he assisted in the control and closure of Canadian Aerospace during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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While serving in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and later in the Intelligence Branch, David earned a BA in political studies (U of Manitoba) and an MA in Human Security and Peacebuilding (Royal Roads University). David has co-authored one book, co-edited a second, and is in the process of writing a third concerning veteran advocacy. He has presented to federal and provincial government committees as well as academic conferences.

David resides in the County of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, with his wife and young family.

Guy Leblanc

Correctional Officer

Guy LeBlanc is 40 years old and a native of Memramcook New Brunswick. In 2004 he started a career with Correctional Services of Canada. Guy worked as a correctional officer for 11 years and was involved in many incidents.

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In November 2015 he was diagnosed with PTSI. Guy continued to work on and off until officially retiring in 2019. With the love and support of his family and friends, and his resilience he has been able to overcome this Injury. We are pleased to have Guy with us to share his story.

George Dunne

 Jungian Analyst

George Dunne, ACP (Retired), began his EMS career in the mid-seventies in Ontario, working in the field and then moving on to classroom instruction. He later began working with the NS ambulance system as a provincial training officer in the mid-eighties from the former ambulance training department in Halifax on Spring Garden Road and later on Barrington Street.

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George was a former Manager of Quality and Learning at EMC. He left EMC to pursue graduate training in counselling and depth psychology. He is a graduate of Acadia University and an alumnus of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, where he spent over a decade studying to practice as a psychoanalyst. Over the years, as a fellow helper, he has provided individual personal counselling and workshops for first responders and other medical care providers. He has learned in his work that dreams can often play a helpful role in the first responders’ understanding of their inner and outer life—contributing to a possible emotional awareness and potential healing.

Presentation brief:

The dream hosts unconscious content by way of symbols, images and emotions. These images may provide wisdom, balance, creativity and possibly, healing. The unconscious content is sometimes presented in a language your conscious mind can read and understand. It is as if the unconscious sends you nightly letters by way of dreams to be read by your waking conscious self. Dream interpretation or dream reading is the subject of this presentation, focusing on understanding dreams through a depth psychological approach. Developed by the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung.

The plan of the presentation begins with understanding the contents of the conscious mind and the unconscious through symbolic language and follows with a discussion of how to approach and read a dream using case examples. The presentation will conclude with practical methods of working with your own personal dreams.

Angela Hawryluk


My journey with the RCMP began in 1992 and continues today. I am a mother of a 21 year old daughter who shares my passion of adventure and travel.

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I grew up in northern Alberta and came to Nova Scotia in 1993 after being posted to Digby from depot. I have been in Nova Scotia ever since and am in love with the landscape. I am currently a Sgt. and am in charge of the Legal Applications Support Team. My job is my passion but also the cause of some mental struggles. I work hard at staying fit but this passion for staying fit has provided an environment to stay mentally healthy as well. I am a true believer, and work hard to ensure, “this too shall pass”. It is all about taking it one day at a time.

Jason and Debbie Fortune


Hello, we are Jason and Debbie Fortune. Parents to four beautiful children and proud Paramedics. We met while taking our Advanced Care Paramedic course in 2005 and just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. After working for 20 years with EMC as ground Paramedics we are both now unable to work in the profession we loved.

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Jason was diagnosed in Nov of 2014 with PTSD after struggling for years with an unknown injury. At that time, there was very little awareness or support. We were left to find our way through on our own. After battling for the financial and medical support we gravely needed, and a separation of 3 years, we were blessed to repair our marriage and even welcome our fourth child. I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2020 and worked my last shift in June 2022. I have been an advocate for Paramedics since 2014, and sit on the First Responders Mental Health Steering committee with fellow representatives of other First Responders and WCB. It is our hope, that through the telling of our story we can be a positive impact for at least one person, one family.

Maureen Brennan

Critical Care Nurse

Maureen Brennan is a former critical care nurse. In 2016, after a particularly traumatic patient assignment in the ICU, she walked out of the Health Sciences Center and has never been able to return to the career she loved.

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She was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to her work as a critical care nurse. Her injury was recognised by Workplace NL as an Occupational Stress Injury and had to go on Workers Compensation.

In her most fragile period, Maureen discovered that resources for her needs at this most critical time were virtually non-existent. In 2017, she started Registered Nurses Support Group (RNSG) to help her fellow nurses struggling with compassion fatigue, burnout, vicarious trauma and PTSD. RNSG’s mission is support, education and prevention through advocacy.

In her current position as Psychological Safety Coordinator for NL Health Services, Maureen is involved with multiple projects that focus mental health and wellness for all employees, in particular, first responders.

In addition, she coordinates the First Responder Psychological Safety Collaborative, a network of first responder groups in NL with a focus on supporting first responder psychological safety. Funded by the Health Care Foundation, the Collaborative goal is to improve the well-being of all first responders across NL through shared learnings and mutual support of mental health resources.

Maureen is very passionate about Workplace Psychological Health and Safety. She is a Certified Canadian Mental Health Association Psychological Health and Safety Advisor and holds an Advanced Certificate in Workplace Psychological Health and Safety through the University of Fredericton.

  • Chairperson of Eastern Health’s Employee Psychological Health and Safety Committee
  • Co-principal investigator of a research collaboration with Memorial University School of Nursing and Toronto’s SickKids Hospital to evaluate the prevalence of Occupational Stress injuries among Registered Nurses in NL.
  • Mental Health Commission of Canada Lived Experience speaker and contributor.
  • Frequent guest lecturer at various educational programs and seminars on the topic of Occupational Stress Injuries.

Maureen is very open about her struggles with PTSD and her journey to recovery, in an effort to offer hope to others that an injury does not define you, you do.

She received her first degree at the Spring Convocation at Memorial University, at the age of 56 and has just begun her Masters in Employment Relations. She says this is the silver-lining of her PTSD journey.

Kevin Donahue


Kevin is the spouse of Maureen Brennan, an ICU Nurse that was injured by PTSD. Maureen is a previous presenter to Helping the Helpers. Kevin will be on hand to give his own personal perspective on living with a family member who has been injured by PTSD and what he describes as the impacts on “invisible victims”.

Our Sponsors

A big thank-you to all our sponsors who help make this event possible:


Nova Scotia Workers Compensation Board


Safety Services Nova Scotia

989 XFM


We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, October 26th, 2024 in Antigonish!

You may register by clicking at the link below or by calling our event registrar at 902-422-1886 or 877-731-1333.

Once the registrations are complete, you may make a single payment for by cheque or credit card for the people participating from your organization. Details for payment will appear on the invoice you will receive when you complete your registration.

If you have questions or require assistance, you may email us at

Helping The Helpers - 5th Annual Education & Awareness Day