Retreat group for Saskatchewan first responders aims to provide a safe space, resources | The Canadian News

Dealing with post-traumatic stress order (PTSD) is not easy — especially when there’s not a lot of help offered for those struggling.

A Saskatchewan firefighter helped to co-found River Valley Resilience Retreat (RVRR) to help others like him going through PTSD.

First responders, whether firefighters, police, dispatchers or nurses, see a lot while working which makes them at high risk for developing PTSD, Jeff Reeder said.


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“We kind of cover all the demographics in the public safety personnel, we have a lot of veterans as well,” he said. “People who have been retired for a number of years and think that they’re forgotten, we’re here to help anybody.”

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Reeder saw the need for an initiative targeted for this group of people. I have co-founded an institution for those struggling with PTSD.

The RVRR creates a safe space for responders and families to rest, recover and learn coping mechanisms.

Through nature, peers and talking to other professionals going through the same thing, the retreat hopes to gradually relieve PTSD symptoms.

“We just wanted to basically build all those tools in one tool box and offer that to people,” said Reeder. “Because we’ve experienced it, we’ve lived it and we know that people don’t have to go on their journeys alone.”


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Canadian Forces veteran Arnold Murphy, who served for 10 years with his last tour taking place in Yugoslavia in 1995, said this kind of retreat is what people dealing with PTSD need.

“The resiliency. Part of (River Valley Resiliency Retreat) is that that people are able to build back their strength and … just get some time to concentrate on themselves with some peer support,” he said.

Murphy thinks most people will go back more than eleven.

“I think people will go back regularly,” he said. “There are people who go every week, every few weeks.”

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The RVRR has been in the works for five years and received its non-profit status in 2019.

So far, they’ve been up and running for one summer with eight to 12 people to each day camp.

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Right now, due to lack of space and the ongoing pandemic, the RVRR can’t offer overnight retreats. But they’re raising money to secure property so they can offer programming 365 days a year.

“Optimistically we’d like to see things this year, where we’ll have a permanent location that we can call home,” said Reeder.

The RVRR is currently sitting at $30,000 and have set a target of $265,000 which will be used to establish the RVRR’s permanent safe, secluded and serene space for our first responders.

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Fundraisers have been established as well as a GoFundMe page which all can be found at the River Valley Resilience Retreat website.

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