DanSun Peer Recovery & Resiliency Symposium - dansunphotos

Shared Experiences of Recovery and Resiliency

Money raised will be donated to the Legacy Place Society

The First Responders

I'm lucky, because of my artwork I get to travel and meet some amazing fellow first responders. I've asked a few of them to come to Edmonton and talk about their mental health recovery and resiliency.  These emergency workers have taken part in some of the most harrowing and catastrophic events of our time. This symposium will be a peer based support event with other first responders from across North America learning from the experiences of these brave men and women.

These speakers will share how these events changed their lives but more importantly what techniques and strategies they use to get mentally healthy, maintain their psychological well being and build resiliency.

We're keeping this symposium cozy so there are limited tickets available, get yours before they're gone.

- Daniel Sundahl, DanSun Photo Art - event organizer

Guest Speakers

George W. Contreras - NYC EMS paramedic, New York, NY

contreras foto2-Edit

George has been working in New York City EMS since 1993. What would later become Ground Zero was his everyday primary area of response. On September 11, 2001, George responded to the South Tower of the World Trade Center and was in the lobby conducting triage when the second plane struck. After surviving the collapse of both towers, he continued to work both at Ground Zero and in the surrounding area. His knowledge of that day is intensely personal, and his previous work experience in mental health gave him some sense of what the future would hold for many of the uniformed personnel who responded to this global yet extremely personal tragedy. Since that day, he has sought out emergency responders from all fields (EMS, fire, law enforcement) to urge that they find someone who can listen and help. George will be sharing his 9/11 experience, his battle with medical and mental health issues, how it changed his life and what he did and continues to do in order to cope with the day "that forever changed my life and simultaneously made me feel ill-prepared".

He strives to find new ways to incorporate and increase mental health awareness in EMS education. Although he is now an associate professor in EMS and disaster management, he continues to work as a paramedic in New York City.

Heather Raasveld - Paramedic, Las Vegas, NV


Heather works as an advanced EMT in Las Vegas. On October 1st she responded to the largest mass shooting in United States history. Heather was also the mastermind behind the 'Vegas Strong' photo session that reunited many of the first responders from that day. Heather will share the events of October 1st and how it affected her and her family. More importantly she will share what she has done over the past year to build resiliency and move forward from this horrible event.

Here’s a link of Heather being interviewed by Fox 5 news in Las Vegas.

Lisa Rouse - 911 Dispatcher, Moncton, NB


Lisa's story begins June 2010 when she was hired as a 911 dispatcher/operator. She grew up in a police family so a career in law enforcement was a no brainer for her, the natural choice. Even with that background, with the knowledge she had, nothing could have prepared her for the day that changed everything, the day she dispatched the 2014 shootings in Moncton where 5 RCMP officers were shot killing three of them.

Lisa will be sharing her road to recovery. Over time, she has turned the pain and struggle into determination to heal and help others. Lisa is now a field coach and she uses her experience to help trainees prepare for such an event. "It is common to think it won't happen to me  but I know better from my experiences and I'll do everything in my power to ensure we all have the tools to cope in case it does".

Gary Smiley - Rescue Paramedic NYC from 1986 - 2012


Gary responded to 9/11 on the day of the WTC collapse, rushing to the scene after the first plane hit and setting up a triage station for those coming out of the buildings injured. Smiley was blown underneath an ambulance after the second tower collapsed and even though he sustained serious injuries, stayed on the site that day to help find victims in the debris. Shortly after, he spent a week in the hospital, recovering from crush syndrome from being trapped under the rubble. Despite his injuries, Smiley wanted to go back to Ground Zero to help with the response work. From early October till December of 2001, Smiley worked as a paramedic on Ground Zero, walking the pile helping injured responders.

Benjamine Kole - Firefighter & Paramedic, Las Vegas, NV

Ben and Ghost

Ben is a firefighter and paramedic working in Las Vegas. Last October he attended the Route 91 music festival with friends when a gunman opened fire killing 58 people. Ben's daughter, also a paramedic, was at the concert working medical stand-by. Once he located his daughter and discovered she was okay the two of them worked together treating the wounded even though they were still under fire.

Ben will be sharing his experiences of that day, how it changed him and what techniques he uses to recover.

Matt Petrie - Clinical Psychologist and retired RCMP member


Matt was an RCMP officer for 22 years before becoming a clinical psychologist. He was witness  to a call where his friend and fellow officer was killed on the highway, which eventually lead to him leaving his position with the RCMP. As a psychologist Matt now helps others with mental health, he will share his story with us and provide recovery and resiliency techniques we can all follow.


October 27, 2018

6:00pm - 10:00pm Art Exhibit, Networking, Cash Bar, Silent Auction and Vendor Tables

October 28, 2018

Silent Auction and Vendor Tables

8:00am - 9:00am  Registration

9:00am - 12:00pm  Speaker Presentations

12:00pm - 1:00pm  Lunch (included in ticket price)

1:00pm - 5:00pm Speaker Presentation


River Cree Resort and Casino

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ticket Price $65.00

Includes admission to art exhibit and networking event the night before. Lunch, coffee and speaking sessions.

We're keeping this event cozy so limited tickets are available.

Order you tickets here!

Who Should Attend?

• Paramedics

• Educators

• Correction Officers

• Fire/Rescue Personnel

• Dispatchers

• Medical Directors

• Law Enforcement

• Nurses

• Military Emergency Personnel

• Social Workers

• Other Emergency Professionals

Art Exhibit & Networking

October 27th 6:00pm - 10:00pm

Art & Photography displays from Alberta first responders including Teresa CoulterDanSun Photo Art and Naomi Fox. More artists will be added over the next few months.

Network with your fellow emergency workers and meet the guest speakers face to face. Live music provided by Station 4.

Finding Peace


Want to Help Support this Event?

We are actively seeking sponsorship and silent auction items. Please contact Lana Ebbers at lana@dansunphotos.com or use the Contact link below.

You can also sponsor using our GoFundMe page by clicking here.

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