2020 National Virtual Family Forum

Coming together, even when we’re apart.

Various dates from October 17 through November 21, 2020

blue mug of coffee rests on table beside an open laptop with a grid of faces on a videoconferenceWhen you are coping with a life-altering injury that happened on the job, 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.

Threads of Life (Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support) offers families affected by a workplace tragedy the opportunity to attend an annual forum, where they can share, network, and ultimately, heal. By attending the National Virtual Family Forum, you will gain:

  • Greater understanding of your loss and its impact
  • Strategies for coping and healing
  • A new network of individuals across the country who have had similar experiences
  • The assurance that you’re not alone!

Why a Virtual Family Forum
In the past, Threads of Life family forums have been held regionally, in person. For 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will host a national online event. The opening and closing sessions will be held only once. All other sessions will each be offered three times, within one week. Each participant can sign up for any combination of sessions.

Who should attend
Anyone whose family has been affected by a work-related fatality, or has had a life-altering injury or occupational disease affect themselves or a loved one. Sessions are recommended for family members 14 years of age and older, who are emotionally ready to heal, share their grief and hear others’ experiences.

How to register
Registration is free for family members, thanks to fundraising from Steps for Life – Walking for Families of Workplace Tragedy and our grants and sponsors. The number of spaces are limited, so please register early. Participants will be confirmed on a first-come basis. If you are then unable to attend, please let us know as there may be others on the wait list. If you require assistance, please contact us.

The Program and Schedule

The National Virtual Family Forum will be offered as several sessions spread out over a 5 week period. The Reflections Ceremony and Closing Session will each be held only once. The three other sessions will each be offered at three times within each one week period. Click/tap on the session name to check times and learn more about the session being offered.

Reflections Ceremony: Honouring our Families (October 17, 2020)

Hosts: Shirley Hickman and Karen Lapierre Pitts
October 17, 2020  — Start: 12pm PT / 3pm ET / 4pm AT (2h)

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 occupational disease. We take time out of our busy lives to reflect on past and present, so families can move further into their futures.

 

woman in glasses smiling at cameraShirley Hickman never expected to be leading a national organization dedicated to helping people affected by tragedies in the workplace. Trained as a nurse, she was happily married and raising a family in the late 1990s. That is when tragedy struck, and Shirley’s life, along with her family’s, were changed forever. Since that time, she has focused on making a difference in workplace health and safety. In 2003, Shirley co-founded Threads of Life and is currently the Executive Director. Shirley is also the proud grandma of two amazing young girls.

 

Smiling woman with blonde hair wearing yellow shirtOn February 9, 2000, Karen Lapierre Pitts’ 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.

Diving into Grief and Loss (Week of October 24)

Facilitator: Darren Parkin (1h 35m)
October 24, 2020  — Start: 12pm PT / 3pm ET / 4pm AT
October 27, 2020  — Start: 9am PT / 12pm ET / 1pm AT
October 29, 2020  — Start: 5pm PT / 8pm ET / 9pm AT

​Grieving a loss can change who we are and leave us wondering what’s next. In this session we will discuss the basics about grief and loss, coping skills, and how to move forward from here; discovering meaning and purpose out of tragedy.

 

man with goatee dressed in jacket and tieDarrin 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.

Supporting Mental Wellness through Grief & Trauma (Week of November 1)

Facilitator: Karen Simmonds (1h 35m)
November 1, 2020  — Start: 12pm PT / 3pm ET / 4pm AT
November 3, 2020  — Start: 9am PT / 12pm ET / 1pm AT
November 5, 2020  — Start: 5pm PT / 8pm ET / 9pm AT

When we experience trauma our feelings can often make us feel like we are going crazy! Symptoms of grief, anxiety and depression can present themselves in many similar ways. With an understanding of the similarities and differences between these and strategies to help support yourself, you will leave the workshop with a clearer mind.

 

Smiling woman with blonde hair, wearing white tank shirtKaren Simmonds 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.

Giving Gratitude and Finding Your Hope in Loss (Week of November 8)

Facilitator: Johanna LeRoux
November 8, 2020  — Start: 12pm PT / 3pm ET / 4pm AT
November 10, 2020  — Start: 9am PT / 12pm ET / 1pm AT
November 12, 2020  — Start: 5pm PT / 8pm ET / 9pm AT

​Finding meaning in loss can simply be “that one little thing” each day to help us through when our hearts are shattered. Love and pain coexists in our hearts when we are grieving. Gratitude can be a powerful tool to help healing and find a connection to hope again.

 

woman with long dark hair and glasses smilingJohanna LeRoux found Threads of Life in 2007, a year after the death of her son Micheal due to a workplace injury. Her journey to Mindfulness was the reverse of how it will be presented in today’s session. It began many years ago with a twice daily meditation practice which, due to unexpected circumstances was interrupted, and she has yet to manage to resume. Many years later she discovered Mindfulness and has found it to be one of her most useful tools in her efforts toward once again finding inner peace. {humour} In her “real life” she is the Program Assistant for the Rabies and Emergency Management Programs at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, where she finds ample opportunity to put to use her practice of Mindfulness on an almost daily basis.

Closing and Next Steps (November 21)

Hosts: Shirley Hickman, Karen Lapierre Pitts and Kelley Thompson
November 21, 2020  — Start: 12pm PT / 3pm ET / 4pm AT

As they begin to heal emotionally, many people affected by workplace tragedy want to give back – to help others affected, and to prevent future tragedies. This session will discuss ways to do that, and also recognize the many volunteers who give their time and energy to make Threads of Life’s programs work.

 

woman in glasses smiling at cameraShirley Hickman never expected to be leading a national organization dedicated to helping people affected by tragedies in the workplace. Trained as a nurse, she was happily married and raising a family in the late 1990s. That is when tragedy struck, and Shirley’s life, along with her family’s, were changed forever. Since that time, she has focused on making a difference in workplace health and safety. In 2003, Shirley co-founded Threads of Life and is currently the Executive Director. Shirley is also the proud grandma of two amazing young girls.

 

Smiling woman with blonde hair wearing yellow shirtOn February 9, 2000, Karen Lapierre Pitts’ 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.

 

smiling woman with glasses and curly red hairKelley Thompson was born and raised in London, Ontario where she lives with her husband and two children and works as an Administrative Assistant at the Threads of Life London office. She is the friendly voice on the other end of the phone when you call! Kelley has a background in retail management and training and in her spare time actively volunteers with Girl Guides of Canada and the Salvation Army Christmas Hamper program in London.

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