“Providing Trauma, Loss and Missing Persons education and support for frontline professionals and caregivers.”

Who Do We Mean When We Say Frontline Professionals?

About Conference:

Recognizing the ripple effects that take place in communities when a tragedy occurs, Caring Hearts Conference & Retreat focuses on the caretakers of survivors & the frontline professionals — those who become immediately engaged with the event(s) and provide sustained care for the survivors’ physical and emotional needs over time. Many suffer from compassion fatigue or the effects of secondary trauma ... It's no surprise that many frontline workers develop symptoms similar to those who suffered a trauma firsthand. 


For a number of years, our organization has focused on providing education throughout the province of Saskatchewan, particularly in areas of trauma, missing persons and bereavement. During this time, we began to identify a strong need for more supports for frontline professionals and those who provide caregiving, specifically as it relates to secondary trauma and compassion fatigue. In 2017, we launched our inaugural Caring Hearts Conference & Retreat which delivered quality and meaningful sessions to our attendees. It was our hope that the Caring Hearts Conference & Retreat would continue to grow and become the "go-to" education opportunity for frontline professional each year, and for many years to come.

2018 has been a challenging year for our province when tragedy hit in the small community of Humboldt on April 6th. This year, we wanted to ensure that our conference and retreat delivered relevant information specific to children’s grief, how to deal with the loss of a child and support the bereaved parents, as well as community resiliency. In addition, our focus was to provide necessary tools towards self-care for the frontline professionals who respond to traumatic events such as this one. We sought out the top education experts from all over North America in order to deliver first class education to all of our attendees.

A conference of this caliber requires a significant investment on our part and therefore we must meet a minimum number of registrations in order to meet the financial commitments necessary to host this event. We are deeply saddened to say, we have not.

We hear all the time that there needs to be more support for frontline professionals but unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be budgets in place to enable these professionals to access supports and education when it is made available.

Caring Hearts is committed to the well-being of our province and we will continue to look for ways to deliver relevant and meaningful education that is accessible to agencies and service providers across the province. We are working on new ideas to help provide expertise that will fill your professional toolboxes and better support your communities.

We are truly sorry to have to deliver this very disappointing news.       ~Caring Hearts 

Conference Topics

Children's Grief: Presented by Dr. Donna Schuurman

Dr. Donna Schuurman is an internationally recognized authority on grief and bereaved children, teens, and families, and the author of Never the Same: Coming to Terms with the Death of a Parent (St. Martin's Press, 2003). She served as Executive Director of The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families in Portland, Oregon for 25 years, and is currently the Sr.Director of Advocacy & Training for the center. Founded in 1982, it is the first peer-support program in the United States for children, teens, and their parents or adult caregivers who have experienced the death of a family member. The Dougy Center's pioneering model, replicated in over 500 sites throughout the United States and into Australia, England, Jamaica, Japan, Germany, and Rwanda, has been the subject of numerous articles, including those in Newsweek, People, and U.S. News & World Report, and was featured on ABC's “20/20” and “Good Morning, America.”

Donna served for eight years on the Board of Directors of The Association for Death Education & Counseling (ADEC), including as President in 2001/2002. In 2003 she received ADEC’s Annual Service Award, and the Clinical Practice Award in 2013. Donna is a member of the invitation-only International Work Group on Death Dying and Bereavement (IWG), serving as Vice-Chair 2016-2020. She also served as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention-NW Chapter. A Founding Board Member of the National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC), she was honored with their first Annual Excellence in Service Award in 2017. Donna earned her master's degree in communications from Wheaton Graduate School, and her doctorate in counseling from Northern Illinois University's Department of Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education.

Trauma & Early Childhood Development: Presented by Duane Bowers, LPC, CCHt

Duane is a licensed Professional Counselor and Educator.  As a therapist, his specialty is working with survivors of traumatic death and suicide, which includes providing support to families of abducted, missing, exploited and murdered children through the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children [NCMEC].  In September 2001 Duane responded to the Pentagon immediately following the terrorist attack on September 11th, providing support to rescue and recovery workers.

Currently, Duane is responsible for the clinical supervision and training of staff and volunteers for a variety of organizations that deal with trauma and loss in the US and Canada. In Canada, Duane works through Caring Hearts providing education and assisting in creating programs focused on trauma informed care, and first responder trauma. He also serves as a consultant to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada.

As an educator, Duane teaches seminars nationally, internationally and regionally on dying, death and grief, as well as trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and traumatic loss.

Parenting After the Death of a Child: Presented by Stephen Fleming, PhD, C. Psych.

In addition to his private practice with FVB Psychologists, Dr. Fleming is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, at York University in Toronto, and a Consulting Psychologist with the Pilot Recruitment Programmes at Air Canada, Jazz, and Sky Regional airlines. The author of numerous books, book chapters, articles, and presentations on the grief experience of children, adolescence, and adults, he has lectured in Canada, the United States, South America, Asia, and Europe. Dr. Fleming has qualified as an expert witness in litigation involving trauma, and he has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Palliative Care and Death Studies.  He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honours including the Noah Thorek Award for outstanding volunteer contribution to the Bereaved Families of Ontario; the Clinical Practice Award for outstanding contribution to clinical thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counselling; the Dr. Beatrice Wickett Award for outstanding contribution to mental health education in Ontario; and the Citizen of Distinction Award from MADD Canada. Dr. Fleming served as Secretary-Treasurer of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement from 2005 - 2013. His co-authored book, “Parenting after the death of a child: A practitioner’s guide” was published by Routledge.

Building Resiliency in Communities: Presented by Mollie Marti, JD, PhD

Both a lawyer and social psychologist, Mollie Marti is a researcher, author, and educator in the areas of crisis prevention, trauma recovery, resilience building, and leadership. She serves as President and CEO of the National Resilience Institute, a nonprofit organization that equips helpers with evidence based tools to grow resilience in others.

Prior to her nonprofit executive work, Mollie garnered years of coaching experience with elite business and athletic performers, and her business leadership books have been translated into eight languages. With her unique ability to integrate the science of resilience with the art of mindful living, she hosts the Resiliency Matters TV show and regularly contributes as a media resource. Mollie and her husband raised their three children and zany family of pets on a working apple orchard in scenic northeast Iowa.

Personal Journey - When a Loved One is Missing: Shared by Maureen Trask, Parent

Maureen has been a long time resident of Waterloo Region, until May 2017 when she made Puslinch her home.  She has a BA in Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University and is retired from a 40 year career in Information Technology.  Seven years ago, she was confronted with the most challenging event of her life when her youngest son, Daniel, went missing.  This set her on a journey of searching, not only for Daniel, but also for information and resources.  During the early years, Maureen was shocked to discover a lack of resources and support services for families like hers, and little community understanding of what families needed. She is now an advocate for families by raising awareness and providing training for those who can help support families. She is also actively engaged in collaborating with families, Police, Victim Services, and the media to introduce legislation and communication processes that will help families of missing loved ones on their journey of uncertainty.

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