2017 Survivors of Suicide Loss Conference

The immediate aftermath of a suicide loss is filled with uncertainty and often no clear path forward. Through group discussions, workshops, meaningful conversations and networking we will explore the unique journeys we take from the early moments after their death, to months and years later as we come to terms with pain, sorrow, and loss.


Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital | 36 Shuter Street | Toronto, Ontario | Canada

Sunday, November 19th, 2017 from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM (EDT)




9:00 AM

Welcome & Introductory Keynote

Keynote and Q&A with Tana Nash


Documentary Viewing

Facilitated Round Table Discussions




Moderated Panel
"Survivorship The Longer View"

Closing Activities

Conference End



As we honour suicide loss survivors, Tana will share with us her own journey as a suicide loss survivor and her journey of healing.  She will touch on how her journey began, what she has found helpful along the way, the lessons she has learned and where this path is taking her. 

Tana is dedicated to reducing the impact of suicidal behaviour in Waterloo Region as the Executive Director of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council, dedicated to youth suicide prevention through a partnership with Lutherwood and Ministry of Child and Youth Services. 

After the suicides of her grandmother in 1987 her only sister and sibling in December 2006, Tana is now combining her professional skills in sales, marketing and communications from twenty years as an advertising sales representative with her passion for advocacy around suicide prevention.  Education, awareness, engaging stakeholders to provide increased and better services, and action are key focuses.  Tana and the Council were instrumental in having Bill C-300, a federal framework for suicide prevention, tabled in the House of Commons.  This Bill became law in December of 2012 and was released in December 2016. 



A screening of "The Journey: A Story of Healing and Hope", a compelling AFSP (American Foundation of Suicide Prevention) produced documentary about the suicide loss experience. The first film in the trilogy — The Journey: A Story of Healing and Hope — premiered on Survivor Day 2014, and explores how people weather the suicide loss of a loved one, and how they manage to find their way back to a life rich in meaning and even joy. In The Journey Revisited, a follow-up featurette to The Journey, six of the original film’s participants gather three years later to reflect on their grief and healing journey with the insight and perspective that their continued experience has afforded them.
We will explore the issues raised in the "The Journey" film together in roundtables with other survivors of suicide loss. This will be an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings with your peers. A facilitator will be present at each table to support the group, and contribute to the discussion process. 
              Please pick one of the below four options


Parenting Through Grief

About the Workshop

Whether your child is 4 or 44 parenting a Survivor of Suicide Loss comes with its own unique complexities and challenges. Often we are navigating our personal path of grief but are also called upon to reach through it to support and continue to care for those who depend on us. This interactive workshop will explore the competing needs of family members and seek to enhance an understanding of what our children might be looking for from us and how we can assist them through their loss.

About the Speaker

Nancy Moreau Battaglia,MBA, D.TATI,FT,RP

Nancy is a Psychotherapist and Professional Art Therapist who specializes in working with individuals and families who are bereaved due to sudden traumatic death. Nancy is a 2 time survivor of Suicide loss and is active in Suicide Postvention speaking to educate clinicians, Survivors and those supporting them. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention.


Mindfulness and Art Therapy for Grief

About the Workshop

This introductory workshop will provide a safe and supportive environment to explore mindfulness and art-therapy techniques for grounding and self-expression. We will visit the mandala practice for self-expression after the loss of a loved one. The mandala is a visual tool and technique that helps to examine what we feel and who we are in the moment. It is often difficult to translate intense emotions into words, and these words are sometimes not enough to translate how we feel when we lose suddenly someone we love dearly. Visual representations and expression of emotions have proved effective to make sense and express the challenges of pain, loss and grief.

You will explore:

  • Mindfulness meditation practice and mandala technique
  • Mandala for self-expression, healing and transformation
  • Visual representations of emotions related to loss

About the Speaker

Emma JM. Ates, BFA, DTATI, Art-therapist & mental health therapist

Emma JM. Ates, DTATI, art-therapist and mental health therapist, AMM instructor specialized in contemplative arts & meditation SCS at the University of Toronto, Nalanda Miksang contemplative photography instructor of Shambhala in Toronto. She offers tailored individual and group-based therapy with a creative and compassionate approach adapting the methods of art-therapy and phototherapy with contemplative arts, meditations and contemplative practices of Eastern traditions. She is the author of the book “Contemplative Photo Therapy: Group Intervention for Youth with Anxiety Disorders”.


Writing About Loss: A Creative Approach to Coping with Grief

About the Workshop

In a large group, participants will learn about the evidence- based benefits of writing about loss, and explore the risks as well as practical solutions designed to reduce the risks. Participants will be invited to engage in brief writing exercises, followed by discussion with a partner of how it felt to write about feelings. Handouts will be provided with an invitation for participants to try additional exercises at home.                      

About the Speaker

A Registered Social Worker, Maureen Pollard obtained a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 1992 and has been working in the field of social work with families and children for more than twenty years. She returned to school and graduated with a Master of Social Work degree in 2011, and obtained a Teacher/Trainer of Adults certificate in 2013. Maureen is a member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, the Ontario Association of Social Workers, the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts and the Traumatic Incident Reduction Association.

Maureen has experience providing support for parenting issues, family challenges and transitions. Practicing a non-judgmental, goal-oriented approach, Maureen works with families to negotiate solutions to problems that arise in family life, as well as during separation and divorce.

Maureen is a seasoned provider of support for bereaved parents who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death. Through individual and group services, she helps families navigate the tragic loss of their child. Maureen received certification in the provision of bereavement care education for health care professionals through Resolve through Sharing (RTS) Bereavement Services, to help caregivers support families when a baby dies. Maureen is a certified Compassionate Bereavement Care Provider, specializing in supporting individuals who have experienced a traumatic loss.

Maureen also helps professionals who experiencing vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue. She is a certified Compassion Fatigue Specialist, registered with the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology Maureen is prepared to provide education and workshops or counselling and support to helping professionals as they manage the impact of the difficult work they do supporting people through some of life's greatest challenges. Maureen is trained to provide the Accelerated Recovery Program for Compassion Fatigue and she is also a Traumatic Incident Reduction Facilitator, prepared to support individuals coping with a traumatic experience.


A Broken Vase - Storytelling 

About the Workshop

In this interactive workshop we will share and explore our stories of vulnerability and courage. Through those conversations we will also examine those factors that make for easy sharing. We will also consider how storytelling and resilience are intertwined.

About the Speaker

Over the last thirteen years Alex has supported survivors of suicide loss initially as a volunteer bereavement counselor and then as the Program Manager at the Toronto based Survivor Support Program. Alex meets them at different points in their journey both when they first are introduced to the program and then while facilitating groups. While working with survivors, Alex draws on personal and professional experience.



Panel Topic: 

Survivorship The Longer View

Panel Speakers

Brian Longmire

Brian’s  experience as a survivor comes out of losing his father to suicide when he was 10 years old. He has been volunteering in the Survivor Support Program since November of 2015, helping other survivors cope with loss. He is also currently pursuing his MSW at the University of Toronto.


David Cooper

David has worked in a four generation family office furniture business for nearly five decades.  He founded STUFF Canada, a not-for-profit created in 1999 to help reduce homelessness and poverty in Toronto.

He and his wife Deborah have written a Guide for parents who have suffered the loss of a child to suicide. They are in the midst of establishing a long-term rural residential treatment and transition centre for 19-35 year olds with serious mental illness.

He is a suicide loss survivor, experiencing the loss of a son, and a volunteer grief facilitator with the Toronto Distress Centre’s Survivor Support Program.


Nicole Elliott

Nicole is a survivor of suicide, when she lost her older brother Trevor, 9 years ago. She is a strong community advocate for mental health and is in the final stages of completing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Toronto. She has volunteered with the Survivor support program since May 2016. 


Nancy Battaglia

Nancy is a Psychotherapist and Professional Art Therapist who specializes in working with individuals and families who are bereaved due to sudden traumatic death. Nancy is a 2 time survivor of Suicide loss and is active in Suicide Postvention speaking to educate clinicians, Survivors and those supporting them. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention.


Hibo Hussein 

Hibo is a two-time survivor of suicide loss: first as a 9-year-old child when her paternal aunt died by suicide in January 1991, and then twenty-five years later in November 2012, she lost her father.  She is an active volunteer with the Survivor Support Program (SSP) and is in her second year of volunteering there. As a teacher, she is used to putting on her counselling hat with her students, but being able to help support individuals and families who are going through similar losses has further added to her life.



Closing activities will feature Medicine Song Woman Brenda MacIntyre. Brenda will be singing a healing song and a travelling song for our community at the conference and for those they have lost as a result of suicide.


About the Artist

Brenda MacIntyre is a Juno Award-winning singer has shared her magic, leadership and soul on national TV channels such as MuchMusic, CTV, APTN and Global and for appreciative audiences of 30 to 3,000. Her music has been featured on CBC Radio and hundreds of other radio stations, garnering top ten status multiple times. She has shared the stage with star from The Secret, Michael Beckwith, and New York Times Best-Selling Authors Gregg Braden, Dr. Joan Borysenko and the late Dr. Emoto.

Brenda lost her mother to suicide when she was just 15 and her father died of a heart attack just 2 years later. In January 2016, she lost her son to a shooting. Even after the loss of both her parents, and being painfully shy and introverted, she let her passion for singing lead her onto the stage and by the age of 20 she was on Top 40 Radio in Miami. Even after ample media and live stage experience, she was terrified of being seen and heard, suppressing her gifts and struggling with perfectionism.

Brenda began an intensive healing journey at an Aboriginal healing lodge in the 90's, where a Navajo medicine woman recognized her as a healer. Since then, Brenda’s mentorship, speaking and spiritual singing have helped thousands of women around the world to amplify their voice and the power of who they are. After her son’s death, Brenda was called to not only help women to find their voice, but to heal in the wake of trauma and discover the power of their gifts along the way.