THE CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

Rob Leathen (confirmed)Firefighter

In 2019 he was diagnosed with severe PTSD/Depression and like some, his journey also included a very close call with suicide. He openly and very publicly shares his lived experience to help chip away at the stigma that still exists surrounding 1st responder mental health and suicide. He is also very driven and passionate about educating those who’s organizational roles involve mental health support from the perspective of a person with lived experience. He does this though his mental health education and advocacy efforts, mental health related digital artwork, and peer support with various 1st responder peer support organizations.

“Silence does nothing but strengthen stigma and when we recover loudly, we keep others from dying quietly so speak up, speak out and speak loudly when it comes to 1st responder mental health!”
So not only does he talk the talk but he also walks the walk. His efforts to educate and advocate lead to the creation of his company Leathen Educational Services.

Rob Leathen (confirmed)Firefighter

In 2019 he was diagnosed with severe PTSD/Depression and like some, his journey also included a very close call with suicide. He openly and very publicly shares his lived experience to help chip away at the stigma that still exists surrounding 1st responder mental health and suicide. He is also very driven and passionate about educating those who’s organizational roles involve mental health support from the perspective of a person with lived experience. He does this though his mental health education and advocacy efforts, mental health related digital artwork, and peer support with various 1st responder peer support organizations.

“Silence does nothing but strengthen stigma and when we recover loudly, we keep others from dying quietly so speak up, speak out and speak loudly when it comes to 1st responder mental health!”
So not only does he talk the talk but he also walks the walk. His efforts to educate and advocate lead to the creation of his company Leathen Educational Services.

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Chris Moore (confirmed)Firefighter

Chris Moore is a Captain with the Chesapeake Virginia Fire Department with over 30 years as a first responder and he is also a national touring speaker.

Chris Moore is the son of a Norfolk, Virginia Police Officer and began his own public safety career in Virginia Beach, Virginia as a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT in 1993. As a volunteer, he put in as many hours as possible, picking the brains of the career members and soaking it all in, in hope of one day becoming a career firefighter. In 2000 Chris' dream became a reality as he was offered a job with the Chesapeake Virginia Fire Department as a firefighter paramedic.

Chris has served in a variety of assignments including: Firefighter Paramedic, Field Training Officer, Recruit School Instructor, MDA Fill the Boot coordinator, Foam Team, PPE Team, Fire Lieutenant and he currently serves as a Captain and a key member of his Departments Behavioral Health and Peer Support Team.

Chris has served all over the diverse city of Chesapeake, by providing responsive and caring service to protect and improve the quality of life of others. He has also deployed on various task forces for aid in his home state of Virginia and deployed to Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Chris has received numerous awards and commendations for his selflessness, bravery, commitment and dedication to the fire service. He most recently received the Fire Chiefs Medal of Commendation for his personal work and vulnerability in the field of first responder mental health and wellness.

Chris was formally diagnosed with post traumatic stress related to his years of service in 2018. In 2020 he decided that helping other first responders by sharing his journey in a completely open, honest and transparent format was another way of giving back and he started speaking at conferences and symposiums across the country. This let other first responders know that there is help out there as well as hope. He received his PTSD service dog, Lewis, in the summer of 2020. He is also a published writer in Fire Engineering Magazine, has been on numerous podcasts and news stories and is in the renowned documentary PTSD 911. Chris is also an alumni of Save a Warrior.

Chris is a dedicated advocate for awareness, prevention, education, training on Post Traumatic Stress and First Responder Suicide Prevention. Chris continues to candidly share his journey with PTS and speak to, not just fire but all public safety agencies across the United States, with the hope of ending the stigma behind mental health in the public safety community.

Chris Moore (confirmed)Firefighter

Chris Moore is a Captain with the Chesapeake Virginia Fire Department with over 30 years as a first responder and he is also a national touring speaker.

Chris Moore is the son of a Norfolk, Virginia Police Officer and began his own public safety career in Virginia Beach, Virginia as a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT in 1993. As a volunteer, he put in as many hours as possible, picking the brains of the career members and soaking it all in, in hope of one day becoming a career firefighter. In 2000 Chris' dream became a reality as he was offered a job with the Chesapeake Virginia Fire Department as a firefighter paramedic.

Chris has served in a variety of assignments including: Firefighter Paramedic, Field Training Officer, Recruit School Instructor, MDA Fill the Boot coordinator, Foam Team, PPE Team, Fire Lieutenant and he currently serves as a Captain and a key member of his Departments Behavioral Health and Peer Support Team.

Chris has served all over the diverse city of Chesapeake, by providing responsive and caring service to protect and improve the quality of life of others. He has also deployed on various task forces for aid in his home state of Virginia and deployed to Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Chris has received numerous awards and commendations for his selflessness, bravery, commitment and dedication to the fire service. He most recently received the Fire Chiefs Medal of Commendation for his personal work and vulnerability in the field of first responder mental health and wellness.

Chris was formally diagnosed with post traumatic stress related to his years of service in 2018. In 2020 he decided that helping other first responders by sharing his journey in a completely open, honest and transparent format was another way of giving back and he started speaking at conferences and symposiums across the country. This let other first responders know that there is help out there as well as hope. He received his PTSD service dog, Lewis, in the summer of 2020. He is also a published writer in Fire Engineering Magazine, has been on numerous podcasts and news stories and is in the renowned documentary PTSD 911. Chris is also an alumni of Save a Warrior.

Chris is a dedicated advocate for awareness, prevention, education, training on Post Traumatic Stress and First Responder Suicide Prevention. Chris continues to candidly share his journey with PTS and speak to, not just fire but all public safety agencies across the United States, with the hope of ending the stigma behind mental health in the public safety community.

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Chris & Mindy Piva (confirmed)Paramedic

Chris Piva worked as a Paramedic in Muskoka for 12 years, was diagnosed with PTSD in 2012, and was medically retired in 2020. He will be sharing his story with trauma informed awareness. Chris' wife also worked as a Paramedic and was diagnosed with PTSD in 2008. He will be sharing insight related to being the supporter, and the supported.

Chris & Mindy Piva (confirmed)Paramedic

Chris Piva worked as a Paramedic in Muskoka for 12 years, was diagnosed with PTSD in 2012, and was medically retired in 2020. He will be sharing his story with trauma informed awareness. Chris' wife also worked as a Paramedic and was diagnosed with PTSD in 2008. He will be sharing insight related to being the supporter, and the supported.

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Brad McKay (confirmed)Police

Brad is considered one of the pioneers of the Peer Support movement in Canada. He has been providing this essential support to his community, his organization, and beyond for 38 years. As a retired police officer with over 33 years of service, he has learned firsthand the value of peer support. Because of his extensive training and experience, he is certified as a Trauma Services Specialist. In 2014 he collaborated to create a training curriculum based on the 17 learning objectives published in the Mental Health Commission Guidelines for the Practice and Training of Peer Support. Brad is a co-lead of the Peer and Trauma Support Systems group at MDSC. He has provided peer training around the world. As an advisor to Badge of Life Canada and the Haven, Brad has co-authored a number of publications to support wellness for first responders. As family man, Brad strives to lead by example with a strong emphasis on health and wellness selfcare and valuable connections with loved ones.

Brad McKay (confirmed)Police

Brad is considered one of the pioneers of the Peer Support movement in Canada. He has been providing this essential support to his community, his organization, and beyond for 38 years. As a retired police officer with over 33 years of service, he has learned firsthand the value of peer support. Because of his extensive training and experience, he is certified as a Trauma Services Specialist. In 2014 he collaborated to create a training curriculum based on the 17 learning objectives published in the Mental Health Commission Guidelines for the Practice and Training of Peer Support. Brad is a co-lead of the Peer and Trauma Support Systems group at MDSC. He has provided peer training around the world. As an advisor to Badge of Life Canada and the Haven, Brad has co-authored a number of publications to support wellness for first responders. As family man, Brad strives to lead by example with a strong emphasis on health and wellness selfcare and valuable connections with loved ones.

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Sylvio & Judy Gravel (confirmed)Police

Syd Gravel, with thirty-one years of experience with the Ottawa Police Service is a founding father of Robin’s Blue Circle established in 1988, co-founder of Badge of Life Canada, and First Canadian Director of the Global Mental Health Peer Network, and now sits as a senior mentor with each of these groups.
He is the founder of the Peer and Trauma Support Systems with the Mood Disorders Society of Canada and presently co-leads and co-facilitates their work.
Syd was inducted as a Member of the Order of Merit in Canada, and was also awarded the Exemplary Medal and Bar and the Order of Ottawa.
He has been consulted on peer support systems not only in Canada, but the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Cameroon and co-developed a variety of training curriculum not only in Canada but the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
He has authored “56 Seconds” and “How to Survive PTSD and Build Peer Support.” and co-authored “Walk the Talk” and “Slay the Toxic Dragon – Police Leadership Impacting Member Wellness”.
Syd presently sits additionally on the Board of Community Living Renfrew, Ontario and as a volunteer retired peer with the OPS.
Syd is an open heart surgery survivor (2019) and remains a competitve powerlifter, winning the Gold Medal at the Police-Fire Can-Am Games in 2022 and the Silver medal for Canada at the World Games in 2023. He performs strongman events for fundraising for hospitals with his spouse Judy, who holds several National and Provincial Powerlifting records. He is married for over 47 years and has three grandchildren.

Sylvio & Judy Gravel (confirmed)Police

Syd Gravel, with thirty-one years of experience with the Ottawa Police Service is a founding father of Robin’s Blue Circle established in 1988, co-founder of Badge of Life Canada, and First Canadian Director of the Global Mental Health Peer Network, and now sits as a senior mentor with each of these groups.
He is the founder of the Peer and Trauma Support Systems with the Mood Disorders Society of Canada and presently co-leads and co-facilitates their work.
Syd was inducted as a Member of the Order of Merit in Canada, and was also awarded the Exemplary Medal and Bar and the Order of Ottawa.
He has been consulted on peer support systems not only in Canada, but the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Cameroon and co-developed a variety of training curriculum not only in Canada but the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
He has authored “56 Seconds” and “How to Survive PTSD and Build Peer Support.” and co-authored “Walk the Talk” and “Slay the Toxic Dragon – Police Leadership Impacting Member Wellness”.
Syd presently sits additionally on the Board of Community Living Renfrew, Ontario and as a volunteer retired peer with the OPS.
Syd is an open heart surgery survivor (2019) and remains a competitve powerlifter, winning the Gold Medal at the Police-Fire Can-Am Games in 2022 and the Silver medal for Canada at the World Games in 2023. He performs strongman events for fundraising for hospitals with his spouse Judy, who holds several National and Provincial Powerlifting records. He is married for over 47 years and has three grandchildren.

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Ryan Knight (confirmed)Paramedic/Firefighter

I am excited to be speaking at this conference; I believe it helps to cover an important area in post traumatic growth for first responders, one in which we all feel a sense of community through the shared experience of trauma and recovery.

I have been an Emergency Services worker in various capacities since 2007 and have experienced occupational stress injuries in the past that I attempted to recover from while still working as well as more recent occupational stressors that led to me stopping work and recovering better on WSIB. I have been a paramedic, and paramedic supervisor in Grey County as well as a volunteer firefighter in Meaford and a full time firefighter in Toronto. My journey with PTSD has led me through pharmaceutical intervention, traditional therapy, and self guided alternative therapies. I have recently started a support group in Owen Sound called nextSTEPS where we focus on the present and look to methods that will assist in moving forward, from recovery, to health. I hope to share something that will help the people attending this conference find a way to move forward with their own healing through sharing my story.

Ryan Knight (confirmed)Paramedic/Firefighter

I am excited to be speaking at this conference; I believe it helps to cover an important area in post traumatic growth for first responders, one in which we all feel a sense of community through the shared experience of trauma and recovery.

I have been an Emergency Services worker in various capacities since 2007 and have experienced occupational stress injuries in the past that I attempted to recover from while still working as well as more recent occupational stressors that led to me stopping work and recovering better on WSIB. I have been a paramedic, and paramedic supervisor in Grey County as well as a volunteer firefighter in Meaford and a full time firefighter in Toronto. My journey with PTSD has led me through pharmaceutical intervention, traditional therapy, and self guided alternative therapies. I have recently started a support group in Owen Sound called nextSTEPS where we focus on the present and look to methods that will assist in moving forward, from recovery, to health. I hope to share something that will help the people attending this conference find a way to move forward with their own healing through sharing my story.

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HOTEL ACCOMODATION

Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham

$192/ room
  • 6 minute walk from conference venue
Best Package

Holiday Inn Express

$179/ night
  • Only 10 rooms in the block. Group rate ends Feb 27, 2024
  • Hotel Group Code: LES
  • Individual Cancellation: 72hrs prior to arrival date
  • 4 minute walk from the conference venue
  • Hotel Direct Line: 905418-8000