Western Virtual Family Forum

Each year, families affected by a workplace tragedy from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories will reunite for a weekend of support and healing at the Western Family Forum. This year, we’ll gather virtually.

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.

An open laptop with screen reading Join Us OnlineBy attending the Western 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 Western 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. Threads of Life reserves the right to make changes or cancellations as necessary. Session availability is dependant on registration numbers.

Friday, 24 September, 2021

6:00 – 8:00 p.m. MDT

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, 25 September, 2021

9:00 – 11:30 a.m. MDT

Supporting Your Children through Stressful Times - Karen Simmonds, Grief Educator

Yes, you can play outside today; No, we can’t have friends over; Yes, you have to wear a mask; No, you are not going to the school today; No, there will be no birthday party; Yes, parks are open; No, parks are closed; Yes, we will get back to normal again; No, we do not know when!!

Children are not immune to stress and it can appear in many forms. Explosive emotions, anxiety, depression, or fearfulness are just of the few emotions felt by kids of all ages. During our time together we explore how to calm fears, keep the peace and manage stress while deepening your understanding of children’s grief and related behaviours. Please bring your questions and concerns!

Karen is a grief companion and educator whose personal journey and companioning the bereaved have taught her the importance of respecting and honouring the multifaceted needs of those who have experienced loss. Karen is now retired from clinical practice and feels privileged to continue sharing her teachings of the last two decades with others and especially with you here today.

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.

12:30 – 3:00 p.m. MDT

The Ripple Effect of Workplace Tragedy – Managing the Wave - Wynny Sillito, Family Member, Health & Safety Specialist

This session will explore the impact of workplace tragedy on an entire family or support system as an individual lives with a life-altering injury or occupational illness. We will discuss the effects as they trickle from the worker, who came home from work one day a changed person, to everyone in their family unit. We will discuss the ripple effect tragedy can have through the ill or injured worker to their loved ones, and even through the loved ones to others. The struggles pertaining to everyday life with an injured/ill person and how they can affect any of their relationships. While we can’t change the event itself, we can work together to help one another along the healing journey. This session will include group discussions and sharing, as comfortable.

Wynny Sillito is a Safety Specialist who works to inspire people to believe in the importance of workplace health and safety programs through sharing her personal experiences with workplace safety, or lack thereof. Throughout her career, she has been involved closely with a number of serious workplace incidents, though none more influential than her own personal experience with workplace tragedy.

On a winter day in 2011, Wynny went to work as an EMT-A prepared to save others, but could never have foreseen the events of that day, and how they would change her life forever. In sharing her experiences, Wynny works to educate and empower others to make workplaces safer, to prevent other workers and their families from sharing a similar experience.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

9:00 – 11:30 a.m. MDT

The Spirituality of Loss - Roy Ellis, Therapist/Author

Many of us come to believe that a healthy spiritual life is one free of pain and suffering. But again and again, as we work on growth through our religious faith or our secular or philosophical belief systems, we find ourselves falling back into old patterns and becoming self-disappointed. What if our deepest spirituality occurs exactly where we meet loss and pain? What if the only route to a deep connection with self, community and God/Truth is through the struggles, losses and disturbances of everyday life. If this is the case, growth is not a product of ridding ourselves of problems, but our raw experience of our problems. This workshop invites participants to rethink their ideas about spiritual growth, grief and pain.

Roy Ellis is a therapist, author and speaker in Nova Scotia. Roy brings 30 years of practice working with grief, trauma, sudden loss, He provides frontline support for private, government and community organizations which have experienced an unexpected death, tragedy or workplace disaster. He is the Bereavement Coordinator with the Integrated Palliative Care Service of the Nova Scotia Health Authority where he meets the psycho-spiritual needs of the dying and grieving. He is a Certified Spiritual Care Practitioner (CSCP) with The Canadian Association for Spiritual Care, and received his Masters of Divinity from Queen’s University. Roy has worked extensively with many organizations including Threads of Life, facilitating sessions at family forums, volunteer training, and contributing articles. Learn more at royfellis.com

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

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.

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