The Mamingwey Burn Survivor Society held its 18th annual Burn Survivor gathering on October 16 and 17, 2015 at the Canad Inns Polo Park Hotel in Winnipeg. The theme this year was “Milestones to Healing”.
133 burn survivors, their family members, Burn Unit staff, and firefighters from Manitoba and beyond attended this 2-day conference. We are very pleased that attendance was up from previous years.
Keynote speaker Dustin Wise opened the conference and shared his experiences of being burned in a cooking accident 9 years ago.
Dustin sustained 3rd degree burns and had to undergo numerous surgeries and years of medical attention. As Dustin’s physical scars began to heal, his mental and emotional scars remained raw. Dustin faced years of self-doubt and lacked self-acceptance of his injury’s non-physical scars. He was able to find healing and hope and promised himself that he would seek to empower other survivors. His story was very inspirational and he emphasized the power of healing through community. He led the group in several exercises to help people understand how far they have come in their own journeys, and offered encouragement to help us mark our own milestones to healing.
Our own Ed Wiebe shared his journey in a talk entitled “Overcoming Obstacles to Healing”. Ed was burned when working as a fire fighter in 2007 and suffered extensive burns to 70% of his body. Ed was able to humbly show how his courage, determination, and hard work have all contributed to allow him to return to work in the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
Denyse Blanco, Occupational Therapist working in child and adolescent mental health, led us all in a workshop on “Assertiveness Training”. We heard about “How to Move Forward when you are Stuck”, a well received session led by Tasha Szczerba and Kris Lischynski, who are Mental Health Consultation Liaison nurses at the Health Sciences Centre. We also had a medical presentation for Burn Unit staff on “The Art of Living Through the Seasons: Being Attuned to the Joys, Challenges and Mystery of Working in the Health Care Profession” by Daniel Barclay, a member of the Spiritual Health Services team at the Health Sciences Centre.
Four of our local survivors spoke as a panel, discussing their “New Normal” lives after being affected by a burn injury, or having a family member suffer a burn injury. Their struggles and triumphs were told from the heart and many in our audience related to their words and were moved.
Survivors were free to share their journeys with each other in several sharing circles, which are considered a most valuable healing experience. Family and friends of the survivors also had a chance to share with each other.
This year we had a special session for an afternoon, the Young Adult Program, which was attended by 7 young people and 2 facilitators. We are hoping to repeat this program next year.
The Mamingwey Burn Survivor Society would like to thank our sponsors: The Firefighters Burn Fund, the HSC Foundation, as well as Manitoba Hydro, Canad Inns, United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg Local 867, the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba, Carter and Sullivan Orthodontics, Dr Greg Stewart of St Anne’s Road Chiropractic, Kromar Printing, the United Steelworkers Local 6166 and Marie Alkana for their generous contributions that made this event possible.
We are very excited that we have been selected to host the next Canadian Burn Survivors Conference. This important event will take place at the Delta Winnipeg hotel from June 15 to 18, 2016. For more information, please email chair-person Barbara-Anne Hodge at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.mamingwey.ca or go to the Canadian Burn Survivors website at canadianburnsurvivors.ca