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In Canada, Black History Month is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of Black Canadians across various fields, including in the realm of first responders. While the history of Black first responders in Canada may not be as extensively documented as in the United States, there have been significant contributions from Black Canadians in emergency response roles throughout history.

In the early years of Canadian settlement, Black Canadians, including those who were formerly enslaved, played important roles in their communities, often serving as volunteer firefighters and providing assistance during emergencies. Despite facing discrimination and systemic barriers, Black Canadians have continued to serve as firefighters, police officers, , armed forces members, correctional officers, paramedics, and other first responders, contributing to the safety and well-being of their communities.

Black Canadians have also made significant contributions to emergency response leadership and advocacy. In recent years, efforts have been made to increase diversity and representation within Canadian emergency response agencies, including initiatives aimed at recruiting and supporting Black first responders.

Overall, Black Canadians have a rich history of service and resilience in the field of first response, and Black History Month provides an opportunity to celebrate and honor their contributions.

Brampton, Ontario's first Black Female Firefighter: Alex Betancourt

Andrea Lawrence, One of Canada's First Black Female RCMP Constables

Major (Retired) Stephen Blizzard, CD inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) June 2023

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September is suicide awareness month and September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. It is important to commemorate such a time because that is how we bring attention to a serious issue. In 2020, 184 people completed suicide in Saskatchewan, 41 of them being between the ages of 20 and 29 years old. And it would not be a stretch to realize a great number of those 184 would be first responders dealing with the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

It is difficult for those in positions of authority to admit they are having difficulty with their mental health. Especially since having such issues known can have a negative affect on their career even though knowledge about such issues could enable them to be more effective in how they accomplish their duties. Once a frontline protector or first responder is able to once again provide focus on their duties, they are then able to become symbols of hope and resilience:

1. Acknowledging the Struggle:

First responders are often seen as the embodiment of strength and resilience. However, it's essential to recognize that they are not immune to the mental and emotional toll their jobs can take. The constant exposure to trauma, the pressure to perform under extreme circumstances, and the burden of carrying the weight of others' lives on their shoulders can lead to overwhelming stress, anxiety, and depression. It's okay to admit that you're struggling; it's a sign of courage, not weakness.

2. Seeking Help is a Sign of Strength:

As a first responder, seeking help might seem like an admission of vulnerability, but it's quite the opposite. It takes immense strength to acknowledge when you need assistance and to reach out for support. Whether it's talking to a therapist, a peer support group, or a trusted friend, opening up about your struggles can be the first step toward healing.

3. Prioritizing Self-Care:

Just as you diligently care for the well-being of others, it's crucial to prioritize self-care. This includes not only physical health but also mental and emotional well-being. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and quality sleep are foundational, but also remember the importance of hobbies, relaxation, and time with loved ones. Take breaks when needed; you deserve them.

4. Breaking the Stigma:

One of the most significant obstacles to addressing the issue of suicide among first responders is the stigma surrounding mental health. It's time to break down these barriers and normalize conversations about mental well-being. By sharing your experiences and encouraging your colleagues to do the same, you can help create a culture where seeking help is seen as a sign of strength, not weakness.

5. Embracing Hope and Resilience:

You chose a career that embodies courage and resilience. Despite the darkness that may sometimes cloud your path, remember that you are not alone in your journey. Thousands of first responders have faced similar challenges and emerged stronger. Your life is worth living, and there is hope even in the darkest moments.


To our brave first responders, you are the people that society depends on. But you are also human, with your own struggles and vulnerabilities. By acknowledging your challenges, seeking help when needed, and prioritizing self-care, you can overcome the darkness that may surround you. Together, we can break the stigma, promote mental well-being, and ensure that our first responders not only save lives but also cherish their own. Your journey is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and your story can be a beacon of hope for others facing similar battles. Remember, there is a community that cares for you, and a future filled with light and purpose waiting for you to embrace. You are not alone, and your life is precious.

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Getting a good night's sleep is vital for those with PTSD, as it not only helps them to feel more rested and alert during the day, but also provides a crucial time for their mind and body to process and heal from the traumas they have experienced. That’s why we worked with to create their guide, PTSD and Sleep.

The guide covers:

  • What PTSD is and how it impacts sleep

  • Common sleep disturbances associated with PTSD, such as insomnia or night terrors

  • Strategies for addressing PTSD-related sleep issues

  • How to improve sleep hygiene and create a safe sleeping environment

  • Tips for partners of people with PTSD

Read more at PTSD and Sleep.

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OSI-CAN Target Demographic

The target demographic of OSI-CAN are but are not limited to: former and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Allied Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Frontline Protectors --- Municipal Police Services, CN Police Services, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Protection Services, Wildland Firefighters, Hospital Trauma personnel, Nurses, Healthcare Workers, Crown Prosecutors, Social Workers, Animal Control Officers, Coroners, Indigenous Emergency Management, Victim Services Personnel, Emergency Communications Specialist, Crisis Management Workers (such as Mobile Crisis, etc), Corrections Officers, “Volunteer” First Responders, Conservation Officers, Tow Truck drivers, and private sector First Responders.  Persons who in the performance of their jobs are exposed to criminal acts of Trauma. We also provide supports to the spouses and significant others of those exposed to such trauma.  This demographic was chosen due to the commonality of experiences they share through the service they provide to the country and community. We have a special interest and support volunteer first responders as they may not have proper access to support.

OSI-CAN is a program of:

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In Partnership with:

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With the Support of:

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