Graham Bettes served 30 years 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 is currently with the St. Catharines Fire Department with 28 years of experience in fire suppression. Shawn retired from the Canadian Armed Forces as a Sergeant. For more than 25 years Shawn has been a dog trainer and breeder. 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 the City of St. Catharines Volunteer Award. He was also nominated for Firefighter Medal for Bravery in 2006.
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 was a Primary Care Paramedic for 22 years. 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).
Lyle Renaud has served as an Advanced Care Paramedic, and Operation Supervisor with Niagara EMS for nearly two decades. He also has volunteered with the Niagara on the Lake Fire Department for the past thirteen years as a firefighter. Lyle has also been a paramedic educator since 2011, and a base hospital educator with the Centre for Paramedic Education and Research (CPER) since 2014.
Over the course of his career, Lyle has faced numerous personal challenges and tragedies, including the loss of both colleagues and friends to suicide. He was diagnosed with PTSD in 2018, which lead to his involvement with The Oathtakers, where he has consistently and passionately supported his fellow first responders, so that no one may ever feel truly alone. He is currently a member of the peer support team within his service and an instructor for the R2MR program. Lyle has recently received a Base Hospital Quality of Care award for his dedication to both patient care and to the support of his colleagues and students. He is a welcome addition to the Valhalla Board of Directors.
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.
Mary has been a paramedic for 32 years, with the Niagara region, part time medic with Haldimand EMS. She is a strong advocate for medics in the workplace and received the Governors General Exemplary Award. Prior she was an animal technician, both in clinical and emergency environments. Mary recently accepted a Valhalla Directors position as a Service Dog Trainer ( In Training Herself). Her journey of PTSD began in 2015.
"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."