In The News
Exploring the Healing Paths of a Labyrinth - September 24, 2019
Labyrinth’s are becoming integral parts of therapy for people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. A motion has been put forward by St. Catharines council to have a labyrinth in Jaycee Park that would be dedicated to service dogs.
About The Valhalla Project Niagara
The Valhalla Project Niagara acts as an umbrella organization to provide mental health treatment, education, and advocacy with regards to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for the target group of veterans and first responders (Oathtakers).
Its vision is to provide free access to this treatment for the target user.
The cornerstone programs include:
The Learn 2 Live Again program (L2L), is a 5 day residential program which teaches the user basic information about their condition, the several aspects involved in a complete biopsychosocial treatment plan, and various coping mechanisms at their disposal. The goal of the program is a management plan for PTSD to prevent suicide. It includes adventurous group activities such as martial arts, climbing, and horses, as well as more calming activities such as stained glass work, and various meditations. the material covers the eight aspects of PTSD management including basic information, therapies, support group, addictions, coping skills, lifestyle issues, support network management, and medications (including pharmaceuticals and cannabis). Basic cognitive and behavioural therapy (CBT) tools and skills will be communicated in dealing with current symptoms but there will be no processing of individual traumas. In fact, we actually discourage this sort of trauma talk as they may agitate themselves or others.
L2L ONLINE - The educational and communication components , as well as some of the activities,have been adapted to an online format consisting of 10 x 3 hour live sessions. We have completed the inaugural intake in May and there is currently a cohort running with the sessions being Mondays and Thursdays. We are expecting to run another program cohort in July. Anticipated dates are to be confirmed but we are hoping to run a zoom program every month. Times to be confirmed but anticipated to be early afternoon 12-3. The sessions are scheduled for 3 hours but generally run 2 1/2 , with a chat afterwards. Subject matter experts (all with PTSD) are brought in as guest presenters.
Criteria for this program
veteran, or first responder (includes all medical professionals, corrections and CBSA)
diagnosed with PTSD from your service
Therapist must be aware of attendance
To register for this program please email your above criteria to Wendy our Intake Coordinator at
Valhalla Service Dog (VSD) program (Currently on hold due to COVID19)
This program aims to provide trained service dogs to the end Oathtaker . A key facet of the program is to eliminate the fostering aspect with a stranger and dramatically reduce costs. Instead, the dog is fostered by the end handler as they learn to operate as a service team. This program will be funded through sponsorships of the dogs by local and area business / organizations.
The two programs together would graduate up to 50 participants including several dogs per year (subject to availability). Further, the program would have mentors returning for support and guidance to the current cohort as part of ongoing inclusion in the Valhalla program.
Other aspects of the program are community education programs and fundraising, chaplaincy / peer support and crisis intervention capacity, an Oathtaker Support Group for PTSD, and a free martial arts training initiative known as Veterans Jiu Jitsu.
The Valhalla Project Niagara relies on the support of the community at large in order to provide the resources necessary to provide this treatment. To donate via e-transfer
Why The Valhalla Project Niagara?
Meet The Team
Graham Bettes is a detective for Peel Regional Police for 29 years. He is a Chaplain/Ordained Minister for The Valhalla Project of Niagara. He served as a Sergeant for the Canadian Armed Forces and currently, a volunteer for the Niagara-On-The-Lake Fire Department. He is an active public speaker for Mental Health Advocacy. Graham has completed his Masters in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University and has a Bachelor of Applied Arts - Justice Studies from Guelph University. Graham was diagnosed with PTSD in 2012.
Graham Bettes was awarded the Canadian Decoration Medal, the Canadian Peacekeeping Medal, the Queen's Jubilee Medal, United Nations for Cyprus Medal and the Police Exemplary Service Medal.
Shawn Bennett is currently with the St. Catharines Fire Department with 28 year in fire suppression. Shawn retired from the Canadian Armed Forces as a Sergeant. Shawn is a dog trainer and breeder for more than 25 years. He is a Chaplain for the Valhalla Project of Niagara. Shawn was diagnosed with complex PTSD in 2006.
Shawn Bennett was awarded the Canadian Decoration with bar for his service with the Canadian Armed Forces, Federal Exemplary Fire Service Medal with bar for 20 plus 5 years, Provincial Fire Service Medal for 25 years, Queens Jubilee Medal, Scouting Youth Service Award and City of St. Catharines Volunteer Award. Also, nominated for Firefighter Medal for Bravery in 2006.
Wendy started out her post-secondary career obtaining her Developmental Services Worker Diploma and went on to work with people with developmental disabilities. She then went on to study at the University of Waterloo, and she obtained her B.A. in Social Development Studies. Later, she attended and recieve her paramedic traaining eventually becoming a paramedic for 21 years with Toronto EMS.
Alas, being a paramedic also introduced her rudely into the world of PTSD. After floundering around for years with no knowledge of treatments for PTSD, there came the day when she needed help to continue on.
Wendy began training their new puppy Riley at a local obedience school. She found that the pup pushed her out of her withdrawn comfort zone to socialize the pup. At this time she was introduced to other first responders and veterans with PTSD at the Oathtakers Support Group.
Wendy and Riley continued Riley’s Service Dog training through Sparkwatch Professional Dog Training and the Valhalla Project Niagara.
is 44 years old, and has been married for over 20 years with two kids,a 20 year old son and a 17 year old daughter. Ken has been a Primary Care Paramedic for 22 years and currently is not working. Eight years previous to that, with a two year overlap, Ken was also a medic in the Canadian Forces and was stationed in CFB Borden and CFB Petawawa with emergency deployments to the Manitoba Red River Flood and to Ottawa Ice Storm. Ken was also a member of the DART Team (Disaster Area Response Team).
The Valhalla Project Niagara is non-profit organizations. We collect donations to help facilitate programs for First Responders and Military Veterans who are diagnosed with PTSD.
Make a donation to help to create a path to help our forst responders with PTSD to gain back trust, compassion, friendship, empathy and confidence. From your donations, you can help make a difference and help save lives!
Donations can be made at
Valhalla Project Niagara Service Dog/Puppy Application can be downloaded here. (Canine program is currently on hold due to COVID-19. We are not accepting dog requests at this time. We are running our educational program via Zoom)