Laugh out loud

Favourite movies with our staff’s giggle guarantee

You know what they say about laughter and medicine. It’s good to laugh – it feels good and offers all kinds of health benefits from improving short-term memory to preventing heart disease.

Threads of Life staff are determined to help you be healthier, so we’ve compiled a list of our favourite sure-fire, can’t-miss, laugh-a-minute movies. You can thank us later.

(Note that not all these movies are suitable for all audiences – we’ve included the rating for each provided by IMDB Movies.)

Kelley Thompson – Mrs. Doubtfire (PG-13)!!! Hilarious movie that makes me laugh every time I watch it. Robin Williams is so funny in this portraying a female! Just looking at him makes me laugh, and as soon as he speaks, I am lost in a fit of giggles!!!

Lorna Catrambone – Four Weddings and a Funeral (R) is a romantic comedy that follows the lives of a group of friends through relationships, weddings and, ultimately, one funeral. It has a great ensemble cast, staring Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell.

And The Princess Bride (PG) is a great fairy tale-style romantic comedy featuring Buttercup as the Princess Bride, her love Wesley who returns after having been missing at sea for five years, the evil prince who wants to marry Buttercup, a hilarious band of outlaws and a whole bunch of silliness. Well written, lots of laughs no matter how many times you see it, and just a lot of fun. Continue reading

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Bruce and Wendy-Ellen Nittel

Bruce and Wendy-Ellen

On July 2, 2012, my husband, Bruce and I joined an exclusive group. I hope others don’t join this club as the cost of membership is too great

After their son Blaine died in a pump truck rollover, Wendy-Ellen and Bruce Nittel had a visit from Blaine’s employer, who wanted to help them in some way. As well as driving Blaine’s pick-up home, the company’s staff gave the Nittels an envelope of information from Alberta Occupational Health and Safety, including a brochure from Threads of Life.

Soon after, Bruce and Wendy-Ellen reached out for more information and decided to attend a family forum. It was very early in their grief journey; however, they both say it was the right place for them to be and the family forums became a significant part of their healing. For Wendy-Ellen, her mothering instincts kicked in and she knew that she wanted to be part of prevention.

Through the speaker’s bureau she shares Blaine’s story with the hope that through awareness, there would not be so many new members to this club. Bruce’s role in the beginning was to be a support person to ensure that Wendy-Ellen got safely to and from her presentations. In time he found himself standing next to her, sharing the Threads of Life messages to managers at the TriWest partner event and then at health and safety conferences. He found his role is to help people understand the culture change. He relates to people that the safety change is their responsibility – in everyday life, not just at work.  Safety attitudes need to be a part of our daily lives. As a rancher, he often found himself doing things independently, that he now knows he needs to wait and find a second pair of hands. He shares everyday scenarios with people, such as when driving a highway with a posted speed limit of 110k/hr, be sure the road conditions actually make that safe. Continue reading

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Persistence and passion: How to win the Steps for Life corporate challenge

“I don’t want to give away all my secrets,” Chuck Roberts jokes when asked what advice he has for teams competing in the Steps for Life corporate challenge.  “I’m just kidding,” he adds. “We’re all working for a good cause.”

In 2016 Chuck, who owns Alberta-based Premier Building Solutions, led the Premier team to top spot in the Corporate Challenge nation-wide. Together, the team of a dozen employees walked in Premier’s home town of Red Deer, and raised close to $8,000.

Leading up to Steps for Life, Chuck says he sent out an email once a week to all his contacts, asking for their support. Once someone had donated, he thanked them and took their name off the distribution list for those weekly reminders. The Premier team changed their goals as their fundraising passed various targets. In addition to that persistence, he believes that the demonstrated commitment “from the person who owns the company” helps to motivate both employees and supporters to get involved. Continue reading

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How to tell when you are listening

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one or a dramatic life change due to injury or disease, chances are others around you are grieving too. Knowing how to listen makes you better able to support others. Listening is a vital skill for Threads of Life’s Volunteer Family Guides – but others can learn it too. Following are some clues to good listening, from the Resource Manual for Volunteer Family Guides.

You are listening to me when you:

  • Come quietly into my private world and let me be me
  • Really try to understand me when I do not make much sense
  • Grasp my point of view even when it goes against your sincere convictions
  • Feel tired and drained after our conversation
  • Allow me to make my own decisions, and
  • Give me enough room to discover for myself why I feel upset, and enough time to think for myself what is best.

Other signs that you are listening to me are that you:

  • Do not tell me the funny story you were bursting to tell me
  • Do not take my problem from me, but trust me to deal with it in my own way
  • Resist giving me advice, and
  • Graciously receive my gratitude by telling me it is good to know you have helped.

Continue reading

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Sharing stories for healing and change

Threads of Life volunteer speaker Lisa Shirley shares her story at a family forum.

This Friday, as most people are winding up their workweek and thinking about downtime, a dozen volunteers will be rolling up their sleeves and getting down to work. The newest group of Threads of Life speakers will spend three days preparing to promote health and safety by sharing their intimate, heart-breaking, hopeful stories.

The weekend of training, though, is not the first step in becoming a Threads of Life speaker. For some, the decision to speak publicly about their experience was easy and obvious. For others, there were months of internal debate: should I do this? CAN I do this? Am I ready?  As Threads of Life staff, we can help a bit with those questions, but ultimately only the volunteer-to-be knows whether the choice to be a speaker is right for him or her.

Once the decision is made, and in the months leading up to training, the new volunteers face the task of writing down their story. Getting it all down on paper for the first time can be one of the hardest hurdles they face – it means walking all the way down that road again, looking directly and closely at what happened, opening your heart and writing about what you find there. For a few people, the difficulty of writing the story helps them figure out they’re not ready to tell it in public yet – and that’s fine. They’ll know when the time is right.

When training weekend finally arrives, the new speaker volunteers are in for a tiring, intensive experience. We talk about what it means to be a Threads of Life speaker, how to look after themselves and cope with the emotions triggered by telling their stories, how to manage their nerves, how to leave listeners with some action they can take in response to the story they’ve heard. We spend time building a Powerpoint slide show as a visual aid, and we review the messages Threads of Life hopes to leave with each audience.

And finally, towards the end of the weekend, each new speaker volunteer stands up and gives his or her presentation to the other volunteers. It’s a small, supportive audience – but sometimes that’s harder than talking to a room full of strangers.

By the time they home on Monday, we hope our new volunteer speakers have a sense of accomplishment, some new friends, and have experienced the healing that comes from not just sharing their story, but telling it in order to protect others from similar hazards.

Our volunteers this weekend are coming from across the country – Newfoundland in the east to British Columbia in the west. They are bringing with them stories that relate to road and vehicle hazards, health hazards, chemical hazards, construction, and more. Those who are not destined to speak before crowds,  will still have skills they can use when talking to friends and neighbours about health and safety. And the new speakers in the group will join roughly 60 others already active across Canada. Either way, our new volunteers will play an important role in changing health and safety culture in this country.

If you’d like to bring a Threads of Life speaker to your workplace or event, visit the speakers page on our web site, or contact , 888-567-9490 ext. 105.

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Start a new Family Day tradition

Family Day. A day to celebrate being together with our family during a long Canadian winter. What are you doing this family day? Spending time with loved ones, relaxing and sharing a meal together, maybe doing some outdoor winter activities with family, or heading out of town to visit relatives. All good ideas!

Family Day is recognized in seven Canadian provinces in February. It creates a much-needed long weekend break during the cold, dark stretch of winter. While not everybody gets the day off work, lots of families use this relatively new holiday as a chance to relax and play together.

But maybe it’s time to start a new Family Day tradition. Let’s spend some time thinking about the family members that Threads of Life supports. Families who may be grieving the death or injury of a loved one through a workplace tragedy, or who are dealing with occupational disease. Families who woke up one morning thinking that their day was going to be the usual, only to find out that a loved one either did not come home from work, or came home injured. Families whose lives have been forever changed. Families who used to spend Family Day together celebrating with each other, and now can’t because of a workplace tragedy. Families who never thought this could happen to them. It can and sadly, it still does. On a day that celebrates families, let’s spend some time thinking about the families who are not able to celebrate. Continue reading

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5 Tips for Dealing with Cultural & Religious Differences When Grieving

(Posted on February 7, 2017)

Maryanne & John, 2000

My husband, John, was Greek Canadian. He was born in Canada. His parents immigrated here from Greece in 1958. The family was Greek Orthodox and attended church regularly.

John’s family were lovely people and warmly welcomed me – a born-in-Canada Anglican gal with English and Irish roots – into their family.

For the most part, our cultural differences were a benefit to my life, not a burden. Especially when it came to the food! Souvlaki, spanakopita, roast lamb, Greek salad, Greek potatoes, Greek meatballs, Greek anything was prepared to perfection by John’s mom – and devoured with glee by yours truly.

The differences in our religions, however, not so gleefully devoured. Even though John himself didn’t attend church much as an adult – nor did I – when it came to planning our wedding, the process just about drove John and me apart.

L to R: Pete, Tina, John, Jimmy, Stacey

John’s family expected us to be married in their Greek Orthodox Church. My mother was not having any of THAT, thank you very much. In the end, John’s parents accepted that we were going to be married in an Anglican church. The Greek Orthodox priest,

however, made it clear that because of this decision, when the time came for John to be buried he would not be given a Greek Orthodox funeral. Ouch. John was devastated but figured that his funeral wasn’t something we need worry about any time soon.  We were only 28 for heaven’s sake!

But wouldn’t you know it, four years later John did die – and that claim was put to the test. Continue reading

Posted in Grief and healing | 1 Comment

One can make a difference!

Make your difference – Register today for Steps for Life

(Posted on February 1, 2017)

Everyone wants to make a difference in the world. We want our presence here, and our efforts to somehow make things better.

Well, Steps for Life is a place where that aspiration comes true. You can, and you do, make a difference in the lives of people who are suffering and grieving after a workplace tragedy. Each person who participates – each walker, each donor, each fundraiser – plays a role in bringing healing to those affected, and in building a culture where such tragedies won’t happen in the future.

Are you ready to make it real? It’s time! Here’s how:

  • Register as a walker in Steps for Life. The web site opens February 1 so you can sign up right away – just find the walk community closest to you, and hit the “register” button.
  • Personalize your fundraising page. It all means more if people know why you’re involved in Steps for Life. Do you walk in memory of someone in your life? Or in recognition that your children will be joining the workforce one day? In a few words, share your thoughts.
  • Raise money in support of your walk. Walking in Steps for Life makes a statement about your commitment. Raising funds goes even further to support Threads of Life programs and services.

If you don’t live near one of the 30 Steps for Life communities across Canada, there’s a new way you can participate and make a difference too!  It’s called Your Walk, Your Way. Most Steps for Life walks take place in May, but you can organize your own mini-walk, or other fundraising event, any time in the month. Register the same way you would for a community Steps for Life walk, and use your personal fundraising page too! Get your friends and family together to join you, or just do your own thing.

However you choose to participate, you will be making a change in someone’s life. Thank you.

P.S.  Planning to register a team for the walk? Check out our new step-by-step How To video! (Scroll to the bottom of the Locations page.)


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How to talk to families after a tragedy

(Posted on January 24, 2017)

“This relationship [with the employer] was very important to our family. We felt that they sincerely cared about us and would do whatever they could to help us through the difficult times.”

Photo by Tom Buchanan, Tom Buchanan Photographics

No one wants a work-related tragedy to happen. A fatality, serious injury,
or occupational disease exact a huge emotional and economic cost, and the ripples reach family members, friends, co-workers, the community and beyond. If such a tragedy were to happen at your company, wouldn’t you want a comment like the quotation above to reflect how to those people felt about you?

All too often, that’s not the case. When the worst happens, an employer’s response can either help, or hinder a family’s emotional healing. Threads of Life conducted a survey with some of our members, asking for their feelings about how the employer treated them and communicated with them following the workplace tragedy that affected them. Sadly, the survey indicates companies are generally doing a poor job of dealing with workers and families following a tragedy.

“They acted like they didn’t know me,” one person commented. “It was difficult to get assistance… It was heart breaking. I had worked with and for these people for almost two years.”

Based on the survey, Threads of Life has prepared a report for companies and organizations. Titled Workplace tragedy: Employer communication and crisis response, the report offers a summary of the survey findings, plus recommended steps employers could incorporate into their emergency plan and safety program.

The report also includes advice from the families about how employers could help families going through this experience in the future.

“Employers should consider taking a step back to try and put themselves in the shoes of the deceased’s family. A death, critical injury or occupational illness in the workplace is completely unacceptable and yet this provides an employer with an opportunity to change and prevent it from occurring again in the future. If the employer conducted a thorough investigation of the incident, several recommendations would present themselves. It is these recommendations, and forward movement from the incident, that I feel would provide some sense of comfort to the family members, knowing that an employer recognizes their responsibility and is willing to recognize their shortfalls in their business and that moving forward they will ensure that this will not happen to another worker. I know if my father’s employer communicated this, it would have assisted in my healing, rather than say nothing at all. An employer saying nothing at all in this situation shows me they do not care and are willing to let this happen to other workers.

 Download the report Workplace tragedy: Employer communication and crisis response from the Threads of Life web site

Posted in Safety culture | 3 Comments

Remembering Michael Bonvie and a preventable workplace tragedy

(Posted on January 17, 2017)

On October 26, 2006, Town of New Glasgow Public Works employee Michael Bonvie died at the scene of a preventable workplace accident on Foxbrook Road, Westville, NS at 9:30 a.m.  On that fateful day, Michael lost his life while working on a construction site when a trench collapsed.  Another town employee also sustained minor physical injury.  Several other employees were on site

Memorial site to honour worker Michael Bonvie in New Glasgow NS

and witnessed this tragedy. It is a day that no one will ever forget as so many lives were changed forever. Michael was a devoted son, a loving father, a loyal friend, and a good family person who deserved to return home to his family at the end of the work day.  Michael’s father is a retired Public Works employee with the Town of New Glasgow and Michael had been very proud to be following in his father’s footsteps. The loss to his family was unspeakable and will be etched in their hearts forever.  Those who were employed with the Town of New Glasgow at that time, still remember the day with shock and sadness. It was a grave loss and its impact is still being felt today.

The Town of New Glasgow initiated a new system for workplace occupational health and safety and has diligently worked to improve its workplace safety culture and programs over these past 10 years. A special place of remembrance and reflection was created in New Glasgow not far from the Public Works Department and was built by Michael’s colleagues and friends. The monument includes a large rock that came from the quarry of SW Weeks Construction, a company Michael had worked with for many years prior to joining the Town of New Glasgow. There are park benches as well as trees planted to symbolize Michael’s two daughters and recently a new tree planted this year for the 10th anniversary and in acknowledgment of Michael’s new grandchild. On the first anniversary of Michael’s death and the preventable workplace accident and every year since, the Town holds a special ceremony to remember and reflect.  This ceremony is attended by town employees, town officials and members of the Bonvie family. Continue reading

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