In addition to our lived experience examples and scenarios, we adhere to the 17 learning objectives as prescribed by Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Guidelines on the practice and Training of Peer Support.
Family Information Evenings
The Value of Peer Support
Create Wellness System
Toxicity in the workplace
Testimony after Trauma
Setting up a formally structured Peer Support System
Setting up an Informal Peer Support System
Family Support systems
Addressing Moral Injury, Sanctuary Trauma, Perceived Injustice and workplace toxicity
Organizational Reviews on wellness Investigating member complaints related to wellness
Middle Management Leadership and wellness
Executive Command Leadership and wellness
Consulting and advice on Peer Support and wellness structures
Early intervention wellness strategies
Proactive wellness strategies
Stigma reduction strategies
Syd Gravel is a former staff sergeant with thirty-one years of experience with the Ottawa Police Service. He is one of the founding fathers of Robin’s Blue Circle, a post-shooting trauma team of peers, established in 1988. Syd is a more than thirty-three-year PTSD survivor and has been a peer supporter since 1988. In 2007, he was nominated by his peers and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and inducted by the Governor General of Canada for the Order of Merit in Policing, Canada and in 2020 he was invested into the Order of Ottawa.
Since his retirement, he has devoted all his time and energy to speaking on developing resilience and resistance to trauma, trauma management and peer support systems. He has written and published “56 Seconds” and “How to Survive PTSD and Build Peer Support.” And now co-authored the book “Walk the Talk” and “Slay the Toxic Dragon” with Staff Sergeant (ret’d) Brad McKay.
In 2014, Syd developed a trail-blazing curriculum for the training of peers in Canada, based on the guidelines and practices for the selection and training of peers developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Syd is currently co-leading the Peer and Trauma Support Systems (P.A.T.S.S.) Team for the Mood Disorders Society of Canada. He is also a volunteer peer facilitator for Soldiers Helping Soldiers in Ottawa. He has developed the content for the three-day peer training project – Transition to Communities for the Mood Disorders Society of Canada and is developing the content for a twenty-hour on-line trauma management course through Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Syd also proudly served as a senior police advisor for Badge of Life Canada from 2012 to 2020. In 2016, he was nominated by the Mental Health Commission of Canada as a Canadian Champion of Mental Health.
Brad McKay retired in 2015 after thirty-three years of service with the York Regional Police (YRP). In 1984, he was involved in a shooting incident that resulted in the loss of a life. At that time, there were no formal peer support or mental health programs available at YRP, so he processed the event on his own with help from his network of family and friends. In 1989, he co-created a trauma team to support YRP members involved in police shootings. He transitioned this team into the York Region Critical Incident Stress Management Team in 1996. He is an advisor to the executive and an alumni team lead.
The York CISM Team is unique and ground-breaking as a multidisciplinary team in that it supports all first responder services including police, fire, paramedic and emergency department staff. To enhance wellness at YRP, he started the Operational Stress Injury Prevention and Response Unit in 2013; he also created the York Regional Police Peer Support Team in 2014. As a Certified Trauma Services Specialist with ATSS, Brad has responded to and coordinated hundreds of interventions for frontline responders and their families. Brad has been asked to appear on TV News to provide the first responder perspective. Currently Brad is providing clinically supervised peer support for mental health professionals in York Region and is the peer lead for a local yoga group for first responders. Brad is proud and honoured to join Syd Gravel in co-leading the Peer and Trauma Support Systems (P.A.T.S.S.) Team. This is a team of highly skilled, trained, experienced and professional peer and mental health experts from across Canada. Many of these professionals have volunteered countless hours to support front- line responders. Brad volunteers on two peer teams. A family man, Brad is a community-minded energetic advocate for wellness and peer support.