Atlantic Virtual Family Forum

Each year, families affected by a workplace tragedy gather from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island for a weekend of support and healing at the Atlantic Family Forum. This year, we’ll gather virtually.

Open laptop sits on table. Screen reads When you are coping with a serious workplace injury, an occupational disease, or the aftermath of a workplace fatality, you may be feeling very alone. No one understands what you’re going through. Friends and family think you should get over it, get on with your life, get back to normal. But your normal is gone. We get it.

By attending the Atlantic Virtual Family Forum, you will gain:
• Greater understanding of your loss and its impact
• Strategies for coping and healing
• A new network of individuals who have had similar experiences
• The assurance that you’re not alone!

In the past, Threads of Life family forums have been in person. For 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will host an online event.

The weekend will open with a Reflections Ceremony, offering an opportunity to honour lives forever changed. Workshops are focused on topics that support hope, healing, and ways to cope for families affected by a workplace tragedy.

Each participant can sign up for a combination of sessions. There is no charge to attend, for families in Atlantic Canada affected by workplace tragedy. Sessions are intended for those 14 years of age and older. Please note the times below and that there are two sessions being offered during each time block on Saturday and Sunday. Please note, session line-up has changed (May 12, 2021).

Friday, 28 May, 2021

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ADT; 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. NDT

Reflections Ceremony

One of the most moving and impactful features of a Threads of Life Family Forum is our Reflections Ceremony. It is here that we collectively honour our loved ones, injured family members and those living with an occupational disease. We take time out of our busy lives to reflect on the past and present, so families can move further into their futures.

The ceremony will also include a powerful presentation by one of our Threads of Life family members, sharing their experience of workplace tragedy.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ADT; 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. NDT

Music Therapy for Wellness - Mackenzie Costron, Certified Music Therapist and Registered Counselling Therapist

The process of freeing up the future begins by looking back—because how you perceive your past influences how your future unfolds. In this session, you’ll be guided through reflection exercises, accompanied with live music, to help find patterns in what made you feel great (and not so great) in the recent past.

Mackenzie Costron is a Certified Music Therapist with the Canadian Association of Music Therapists and Registered Counselling Therapist with the Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists practicing in the Halifax, NS area through Find Your Voice Music Therapy. She specializes in working with mental health, grief, loss, and bereavement with teens, adults and seniors.

Embracing Spirituality in Times of Crisis and Change - Darrin Parkin, Spiritual Care Clinician

“What do we mean when we say we are spiritual or have a spirituality? Is there a difference between Spirituality and Religion?”

Spirituality is as old as the human species and can help us through times of crisis. In this session, we will look at spirituality in the modern world and through ancient times and explore our beliefs in the aftermath of significant change.  

Darrin Parkin is the Spiritual Care Clinician at the High River General Hospital serving patients, residents, families and staff members during times of health crisis. He has been a Hospice and end of life and bereavement Chaplain, and for many years was a Prison Chaplain in Alberta as well as a college instructor and conference speaker. 

Saturday, 29 May 2021

1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ADT; 2:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. NDT

Taking a Vacation From Grief - Karen Simmonds, Certified Grief Counsellor and Educator

It is hard to get a break from grief! The feelings can be all-consuming and overwhelming. In this session, we will develop an understanding of grief and discuss why ‘Taking a Break’ is not only healthy but a necessary part of the healing journey. We will discuss strategies and ideas to help you take mini-vacations from grief.

Karen is a certified bereavement educator, grief counsellor and cancer survivor whose personal journey and educational accreditations have unified her philosophy of “companioning through grief”. Her inspirational teachings of respecting and honouring the multifaceted needs of those who have experienced loss, has touched individuals and audiences across Canada. Karen feels privileged to spend this time with you today.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ADT; 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. NDT

Yoga and Self-Care - Morgan Story, Yoga Instructor, Reiki Practitioner, Karma Yoga Studio

Join us for a gentle healing yoga flow, where we move the body to release physical tension in the mind and body.  As well as learn different healing tools and techniques that assist in removing emotional blockages and balancing emotions.

Morgan Story is a certified yoga instructor who gained her 500h certification through Blue Heron Yoga Studio in 2015. She has also since then furthered her yoga education by taking some additional certifications including Yoga For seniors, Reiki level 1 and 2, among many other workshops. She has recently opened up her own Yoga Studio in Guelph Ontario called Karma Yoga Studio. Morgan also helps certify yoga instructors at Yoga City Mississauga in teaching the courses on Meditation, Ayurveda and Seniors Yoga. She has a strong passion for self-care and teaching it to others. 

Life is a Gift: Finding Happiness After Loss - Karen Lapierre Pitts, Manager, Family Support

Grief and happiness often cause conflict from deep within: happiness after loss can feel like an internal battle. For many of us the ‘happy” word is now difficult to define. While it is normal to have many emotions all at the same time when grieving a life-altering loss- it often feels uncomfortable and contradictory. Grief is a messy place; a significant loss is painful, difficult and life-changing. It’s normal to struggle with feelings of guilt, anger & bitterness, but what about those moments when you should feel joy or happiness?  It doesn’t seem right anymore. You may be thinking, will I ever feel happy again?

On February 9, 2000, Karen’s family suffered from a traumatic workplace tragedy. Karen has been part of Threads of Life for many years and is currently the organization’s family support manager working directly with families. She is also an active Family Guide and member of the Speaker’s Bureau. Threads of Life helps families heal after they are affected by a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease. It is currently working with more than 2,700 family members from across Canada. Threads of Life promotes public awareness and accountability for workplace health and safety. Its mission is to lead and inspire a culture shift where work-related injuries and illnesses are morally, socially and economically unacceptable. Many things have changed in Karen’s family’s life since that fateful day.

You’re not alone. Join other families of workplace tragedy who “get it.”