Alberta wellness society aims to help first responders with trauma

File photo. Global News

Wayfinders Wellness Retreat was created as a safe haven and a space for all first responders to access multiple resources to support recovery.

Paul Wagman worked as a detective with the Calgary Police Service for years, but suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after a homicide case in which multiple people were killed in the community of Dalhousie.

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Wagman said when he experienced trauma, there weren’t many options available outside conventional approaches to therapy.

“I had to navigate it on my own,” he said.

Wayfinders Wellness opened with the intention of providing multiple resources for those suffering from PTSD, and is currently looking for help fundraising for a gym facility at the site.

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Bryce Talsma, vice-president of Wayfinders, was a captain with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.

Click to play video 'Touching tribute for fallen Calgary police officer' Touching tribute for fallen Calgary police officer
Touching tribute for fallen Calgary police officer – Jan 4, 2021

He said that the wellness society introduced him to peers and the sense of camaraderie was crucial to healing.

“I have brothers and sisters who I never knew I had before and we all want the best for each other,” explained Talsma.

“I can’t even put in to words what it’s done for me.”

Wayfinders is located just outside of Cochrane and currently offers multiple sources of therapy for first responders.

Wagman wanted to build a fitness facility at the site and is hoping that they may be able to fundraise to get the project going.

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“It makes me feel like my sacrifice was worth something when I can give back to the people who are also going to be sacrificing, so they don’t have to suffer permanently,” he said.

The founder said the facility’s doors are open as the organization works to get infrastructure set up as a place for healing to take place among peers.