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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.

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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).

Valhalla Project Niagara 2022 programming



Learn to live


The Valhalla Project Niagara is a non profit agency for veterans and first responders with PTSD.  Our flagship program is the Learn to Live program which is a 5 day residential respite program. 


The program generally has between 12 to 15 participants. 

Residential programs run from Sunday to Friday. Participants come and stay with us for five days at the Cave Springs Camp in the Niagara region. All meals and accommodation are provided.

Our  next planned residential cohorts are

March 27-Apr1

April 24-29

May 8-13

Jun 19-24

Sept 11-16

Oct 16-21

our residential programs will run in full compliance with local bylaws, procedures, and best practices regarding covid/vaccinations.


The program covers topics such as support network management, suicide prevention, basic education, various coping skills , lifestyle management, medications, addictions, therapies available, including the therapist code of conduct.   support network management teaches participants how to communicate in a stigma free way. it also encourages real-time checkins and identifying current state of arousal.  


basic education teaches how to be aware of how ptsd manifests in the body and how it affects your ability to function. By knowing this we can take active steps to ensure the symptoms do not prevail.   


the segment on medications explains the various pharmaceutical intended uses and side effects.   further,  cannabis is also explained, demystified , and destigmatized.    participants are able to have a more learned conversation with their HCP


the subject of addictions is explained.   the various programs and modes are explained   12 step vs harm reduction.    various coping skills are demonstrated throughout. participants can utilize and the new skills which seem to work for them into their routine. 


On Wednesday evenings Valhalla hosts a PTSD support meeting.    This is a weekly drop in and serves to normalize the ptsd experience and the surrounding turmoil.    Lifestyle changes are structured to ensure success.   We encourage small consistent changes and habits to gain confidence in your ability to handle situations. 


The residential program has segments on food preparation throughout the week. Further, fitness, including martial arts ,  is encouraged as well as morning yoga.     We  have a variety of speakers on the above topics.   There is NO trauma processing during our sessions.  


This is NOT group therapy.  This program is meant to go along with your current, in place , therapy.  we are not replacing your therapist.    

Participants in the cohort will also be exposed to various positive physical activities that they may find helpful.   These activities can include, but are not limited to , yoga, equine exposure, goats, stained glass,  archery, bees, music, arts, paddling boarding and martial arts. 

The key goal of this program is to have the basic management tools in place to control PTSD and prevent suicide in our affected members. 

The costs for this program have been covered by third party donations and there is no charge to attend.   The only barrier to treatment is stigma. 

beyond the learn to live program we provide strong peer support to our members in the form of positive social activities.  Our programs instill hope  and a practical, informed  method to manage their ptsd on a daily basis.  


we are actively accepting referrals for upcoming


intakes criteria for acceptance

-diagnosed PTSD -veteran or first responders 

-current therapist consent


our coordinator for the program is annilise at annalisehartwig57@gmail.com


 ptsd is only dangerous when you are alone.  we show you how not to be alone when your in distress.


The virtual /zoom sessions will be Monday's and Thursdays from approx 10am until 1pm EST.  

there are 11 sessions in the online program. we run the virtual session generally on a monthly basis or as needed.

The dates for the next virtual program are Mondays and Thursdays from


6 December-17Jan (no class 23 &27Dec)

31 Jan -7March

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

our residential programs will run in full compliance with local bylaws, procedures, and best practices regarding covid/vaccinations.

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      



Above and beyond the learn to live program we provide strong peer support to our members in the form of positive social activities.


The Valhalla project’s weekly scheduled activities (outside of learn to live )are ,

Sunday – martial arts (veterans BJJ) or virtual morning coffee

Monday - learn to live

Tuesday – walk with service dogs (two legs are allowed)

Wednesday – – Oathtaker Ptsd support group 7 PM in person at Legion or virtual during Covid

Thursday learn to live

Friday – dog walk, martial arts (veterans jujitsu)

Saturday – virtual yoga

siren 12weeks.jpg

Why The Valhalla Project Niagara?


Our Objectives & Mission Statements

As a Non-Profit Organization

We are focusing on Military Veterans and First Responders living with PTSD.

PTSD Service Dogs

The Valhalla Project Niagara looks to assist in the placing, and training of suitable service dogs for our demographic.  VPN provides multiple training sessions a week for members and their service dogs.  Contact our service dog Co-ordinator Wendy at    wendy.valhallaprojectniagara@gmail.com

for further details of how to enroll in our program


Every member on the team is under going their own personal journey living with PTSD. The program aims to pass forward this hard fought experience in a supportive, compassionate, and judgement free environment.

The Valhalla Project Niagara Objectives

To reduce the rate of suicide among Military Veterans and First Responders by providing a program to support, educate and facilitate a better understanding of PTSD.  PTSD is only dangerous when you are suicidal and alone,  we may not be able to control our suicidality, but we CAN control if we are alone in times of distress.  Daily and ongoing usage of a support network is encouraged and demonstrated.


Utilizing the inherent beauty of the Niagara Region, we will seek to provide our participants with a safe and serene environment where they can engage in personal reflection and meditative activities.


We seek to end the stigma associated to PTSD and allow participants to move forward in to post traumatic growth.


Meet The Team

Graham Bettes

Graham Bettes served 30 as a police officer attaining the rank of detective.  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

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 Walker

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. 


Ken Beaudette,

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)

Thank you.


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