Mentors

Andréa Speranza

Founder & Executive Director

Expand Bio
Andréa is a university graduate (Bachelor of Business Administration Honors), business owner and volunteer firefighter who became a career firefighter 20 years ago.  She is an Operation’s Captain with the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service stationed in Woodside, Dartmouth.  Her passion to improve everything she has experienced led her to found Camp Courage, an award winning, life changing camp that educates and inspires young women to become first responders.  She not only is a champion for diversity but also was a national Firefighter’s Combat Challenge Champion.  She loves to share her life’s philosophy at educational events and conferences almost as much as she loves her little dog Cooper

Donna Reid

EHS Program Coordinator

Expand Bio
Donna’s bio to follow

Miranda Newhook

Paramedic Program Director

Expand Bio
Miranda Newhook is originally from Newfoundland. She has been with EMC since 2005. She has worked across Nova Scotia and is working as an Advanced Care Paramedic and with The Extended Care Paramedic Program in the central region.  Miranda’s passion for helping others continues in her volunteer work with Camp Courage, Peer and Family Support Services, And Youth Forum through the United Church.  Miranda’s positive attitude and zest for life make her a valued Paramedic Mentor with Camp Courage

Cst Michelle Everson

Police Program Coordinator

Expand Bio

Michelle Everson is a Halifax Regional Police Officer. She grew up in New Brunswick and after a full career in the Information Technology field at NBTel / Aliant decided to make the jump to policing. After three years as an auxiliary Constable with the Saint John Police Force, Michelle attended Holland College in PEI and graduated the police academy in 2006. Michelle currently works in Halifax as a Youth Court Officer in the Integrated Court Section. She has also done general patrol, worked as a school resource officer and most recently was a Crime Prevention Officer in the Community Relations Crime Prevention team where she was responsible for the HRP Co-op program with area high schools, the ride along program and other events. Michelle has two adult children, four adult step-children and two dogs. Michelle is one of the main police program coordinators

Cst Natasha Dantiste

Police Program Coordinator

Expand Bio
Constable Natasha Dantiste of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, graduated with a Certificate in Business Administration from Mount Saint Vincent University and began working at various federal government departments.  In 2001 she worked her first of two administrative positions with the RCMP.  During her tenure as a federal public service employee at the RCMP division headquarters in Halifax,  Natasha considered applying to become a regular member/police officer.  She says “the more involved I became, the more involved I wanted to become”.  Upon completing the recruitment process and travelling to Regina, Saskatchewan for training, Natasha graduated from the RCMP Training Academy in December 2005.  She began her policing career working general duties in New Minas then transferring to Wolfville both in Kings District RCMP, Nova Scotia.   In October 2012, Natasha transferred to Halifax District RCMP where she works in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia as a community policing officer.

Natasha’s involvement with Camp Courage began as it aligned directly with her role as a Community Policing Officer and her former work with youth as a School Liaison Officer.  Natasha is a mother of two and remains committed to supporting law enforcement educational programs aimed at youth. Natasha is one of the main police program coordinators.

Cst Susan Camus

Police Program Coordinator

Expand Bio
Cst. Susan Camus has been a member of the RCMP for 22 years. She has served in Duncan British Columbia, Toronto Ontario, Port Hawkebury Cape Breton and Halifax Nova Scotia. Most of her service has been in uniform on patrol and in Community Policing. Susan loves working in her Community and Schools in Tantallon where she and her 15 year old son reside. During her off time she loves to ski, play hockey, practice yoga and spend time relaxing at her cottage in PEI.

Emily Robinson

Fundraising Director

Expand Bio
Emily Robinson  is a Firefighter, Medical First Responder and Fire Prevention Officer with Elmsdale Fire and Emergency Services since 2016. Along with emergency response, Emily has a passion for Entrepreneurship, holding a diploma in Business Administration. She started a small business offering Yoga and Reiki, and teaches yoga in her community. She has offered yoga in exchange for donations for Camp Courage. A most recent fundraiser, yoga in bunker gear, was a fun favorite that raised over $400! Emily believes young women can do anything they put their mind to. Her favorite quote is: “Be the change you want to see in the world” by Mohandas Gandhi.

Sherry Dean

Mentor

Expand Bio

Sherry Dean is a Training Officer and Captain with HRFE. She is a level II Fire Service Instructor who enjoys recruit training and is completing her diploma in Adult Education. Her qualifications include HazMat, Technical Rescue and Vehicle Extrication. Assisting young women in Camp Courage attain new skills and conquer challenges is a rewarding experience for her. She is excited for this year’s Camp

Karen Comeau

Mentor

Expand Bio
Karen Comeau was born & raised in the small French community of Meteghan, which is located along the South Western shore of NS in between Yarmouth & Digby.  She works as an Advanced Care Paramedic in Milford, NS.  Karen has been employed by Emergency Medical Care as a paramedic since 2001 and has worked in many different places, Annapolis, Yarmouth, Meteghan, Bridgetown and currently in Milford.  She loves being a paramedic as it is a very rewarding career to help people in need as well as to meet all sorts of lovely new people in your every day travels.  Karen enjoys volunteering for many for many different activities going on in the community and she always up for new and exciting adventures.  Karen especially enjoys spending time with the girls for the paramedic days at Camp Courage…what a great camp and experience!

Shari Robertson

Mentor

Expand Bio
Shari presently works for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada as the Regional Chief, Program and Operational Readiness for Conservation and Protection, Maritimes. She has over 20 years of experience working in law and regulatory enforcement within provincial and federal governments across Canada. Previous positions held included, Provincial Correctional Officer, Deputy Sheriff, Federal Conservation and Protection Officer, Enforcement Analyst, Marine Intelligence Analyst for Transport Canada, and National Manager, Safety Compliance for the Canadian Coast Guard Vessel Fleet.

Shari has initiated and participated in many programs aimed at helping women and girls in the community, many who have been marginalized, and/or those impacted by drugs, alcohol and violence. She worked part-time at women’s shelter to provide guidance and care for women transitioning from addiction. She mentored them by teaching basic skills that would assist them to live independently, including self-care, cooking, resume writing and job searching. During her employment as a Correctional Officer, she developed an art program and volunteered her time to provide incarcerated men and women a safe space to express themselves in a positive and creative way. She also volunteered for three years as a Girl Guides of Canada Leader.

Over the last three years, She participated in her department’s Indigenous Student Internship Program. This has been a very rewarding experience for both Shari and the young woman, who she mentored during this time. This program provides Indigenous university students the opportunity to work in their field of interest and many of them have the opportunity to continue working with DFO after graduating.  During her own personal time, she is an avid photographer, painter and crafter.

Nikki Butler

Mentor

Expand Bio
Nikki Butler has been a Fishery Officer with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) since 2002. Over the years, she has mentored, coached and trained numerous fishery officers as they began their careers with DFO. She has been a police defense tactics instructor for ten years and is currently the recruiting manager for fishery officer trainees in Maritimes Region. She stays active by hiking, running (she’s completed four marathons!), strength training and playing outside. Originally from Newfoundland, Nikki now lives in Dartmouth and is excited to become part of Camp Courage.

Michelle Mabe

Mentor

Expand Bio
Michelle Mabe has been a volunteer firefighter with Halifax Regional Fire since December 2008. She started volunteering with the Herring Cove Fire Department and transferred to Hammonds Plains Fire department in January 2015. In 2016 she became the first female volunteer Lieutenant at Hammonds Plains Fire Department.

Natasha Prest

Mentor/ Past Vice President

Expand Bio
In 2009, Natasha became the First African Nova Scotian Career Member of Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Services. Natasha believes that being a Firefighter is the best career in the world and she would recommend it to anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of others, who is willing to go above and beyond for people in need and be a part of a team who you will now and forever consider FAMILY. I am a mother of a 19 year old daughter and I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Saint Mary’s University. Quote Natasha believe sums up who she is:

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has over come. – Booker T. Washington”

Jodi Lambert

Paramedic Program Past Co-ordinator

Expand Bio

Jodi Lambert brings years of experience to the Camp from being a member of the Naval reserves and living abroad.  Basing herself from Lower Sackville but indulging her love of travel at every opportunity, Jodi has worked with Emergency Health Service for eleven years as a Communications Officer and Primary Care Paramedic.  Jodi is on the board of directors for the camp.

Eddy Parsons

Mentor

Expand Bio
Eddy Parsons, supporter of gender equality and advocate for social justice.   Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science/ History from Saint Mary’s University.  Bachelor of Education Degree from Mount Saint Vincent University and Master of Education in Lifelong learning.  Former public-school teacher who is committed to using his university education and life experience to make the world a more fair and equitable place for girls, women and those from under-represented groups.  Working to make the fire service more inclusive and reflective of those we serve.

Veronica Faulkner

Mentor

Expand Bio
Veronica Faulkner grew up learning all about fire services. Her father, John, was one of the founding members of what is now Station 16 in Eastern Passage. She very quickly learned that telephone access was limited only to what was necessary and to keep her calls very short, because you never knew when there would be an incoming fire call. She and her siblings learned how to quickly make those most important calls to volunteer members. Of course, today those calls are made by the Communications Centre.  She spent many years working in land development in various cities across Canada and the United States. Returning to her home community she worked for many departments in Halifax Regional Municipality including her last position as Administrative Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Operational Support Fire Services up until July 2012. Always passionate about her job and the welfare of her co-workers, she concentrated her efforts on the health and welfare of our firefighters which resulted in the Health & Wellness Committee receiving an award. She has spent a lifetime volunteering and although she is now retired and is enjoying the opportunity to travel she continues to volunteer in the community including as many of Fire Services functions as she is able. She has been with Camp Courage since 2008. She can be found in the classroom, on the training grounds and always with her camera in hand. Remember to smile because you will more than likely find your photo displayed in one of the Camp Courage scrapbooks.

Colleen Clarke

Director – Event Planning

Expand Bio

Colleen Clarke graduated from Camp Courage in 2011, graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology 2016 and graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University with her Bachelor of Education. Colleen currently works as a grade 4/5 grade teacher at John McNeil Elementary school. She aspires to become a career firefighter and currently is a volunteer firefighter at station 13 downtown Dartmouth. She is a Director of Event Planning for Camp Courage. Her hobbies are playing hockey, being physically active and enjoying the outdoors.

Nadya-Lyse Paré

Mentor / Past Vice President

Expand Bio
Nadya-Lyse Paré has been with Camp Courage since its inception and has remained committed to its goals and purpose. She is mother of two amazing and strong young adults and mentor to many more. In 1994, she became one of the first female career firefighters in Halifax Regional Municipality after breaking barriers as the first female firefighter in 2 different volunteer departments. She became the first woman career officer and has been very successful leading various crews in Halifax Regional Municipality, notably the first and only all-female crew. Certified diversity professional and educator she has been teaching the value of diversity on her days off, for many years and believes in it strongly. So strongly in fact, that both passion and profession have merged in her position as Assistant Chief, specializing in workplace culture. Nadya-Lyse is a public speaker, a writer and an advocate. She is a Justice of the Peace for the province and also owns a lovely Bed and Breakfast on the shore of the Bay of Fundy that she shares with her partner.

Taigan Ross

Mentor

Expand Bio
Taigan Ross is a Critical Care Paramedic that graduated from Camp Courage in 2007. It was Camp Courage that opened her eyes to her dream job in paramedicine. Over the next 10 years, she became a PCP, then an ACP and finally a CCP – all while combining it with working in a high call volume center and volunteering at Camp Courage in an attempt to give back. When not wearing a stethoscope, you will find her roaming walking trails with her 4-year-old Boxer dog named Disney who believes she is the queen bee!

Holly Coote

Mentor

Expand Bio
Holly Coote is a primary care paramedic with EHS ground ambulance in central Nova Scotia and loves her job!  She has been a volunteer firefighter since 2015. Holly started her firefighting journey at station 65 in Tantallon and has since transferred to station 60 in Herring Cove. She has a strong passion for the firefighting field and plans to serve for many years to come.

Barb Vidito

Mentor

Expand Bio
Barb Vidito has worked at the IWK since 1995 booking ultra sounds for women and children. She has volunteered providing first and to the general public with St John Ambulance since 1996. Barb loves being a volunteer firefighter since 2009.
Some of her hobbies are baseball, curling, reading, horseback riding and golf. Barb’s parents have always supported the choices she has made. We love our two black, boy and girl cats dearly. My dream is to have a hobby farm, with one of each animal.

Samantha Banfield

Director – Event Planning

Expand Bio
Samantha Banfield graduated from Camp Courage in 2011 and graduated with honors from Saint Mary’s University’s Criminology program with a minor in Psychology in 2017.  Currently she is in the Police Science Program offered by the Halifax Regional Police.  Samantha is a volunteer fire fighter at Station 17 in Cole Harbour and is the Director of Event Planning for Camp Courage.  She is also highly involved in volunteering with community organizations such as Out of the Cold Emergency Winter Shelter and the Community Justice Society. Samantha enjoys staying fit more specifically doing CrossFit and Olympic Weightlifting.

Olivia Skinner

Mentor

Expand Bio

Olivia Skinner is a graduate of Camp Courage, class of 2017. She has been volunteering at station 65 in Tantallon for the last 5 months and is attending the Nova Scotia firefighting school. She was the 2019 recipient of the Andrew Bednarz Bursary Award. Olivia hopes to keeps moving forward with her firefighting career and someday get a career position in the fire services!

Trish Pittman

Mentor

Expand Bio

Trish Pittman served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 8 years in both the Naval Reserves and Regular force.  She has earned her level one certification from the Nova Scotia Fire Service and is currently a member of the Enfield Volunteer Fire Department.   

Lorne Piercey

Mentor

Expand Bio
Lorne Piercey started firefighting in 1995 with the Gibson’s and District Fire Department. He completed his level I and II firefighter and Instructor I and II with the Justice Institute of British Columbia. He served the role of Training captain with the fire department and Emergency Response Fire Chief at his place of employment. Upon moving to Halifax in 2006 Lorne was employed as Instructor with the Nova Scotia Firefighters School and worked as Lead firefighting Instructor with Survival Systems Training in Dartmouth in 2012. During that time Lorne volunteered with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency where he served in various roles as Firefighter, Captain, Deputy Chief and Zone Chief. Lorne has a certificate in Fire Services Leadership from Dalhousie University and is certified as an Airport Rescue Firefighter from South Carolina. Lorne has been a guest instructor at FDIC Atlantic on several occasions teaching Vehicle extrication and Rapid Intervention Techniques. In 2017 Lorne became a career firefighter with HRFE and currently is at 10 Station in Sackville on C Platoon.

Joan Helson

Mentor

Expand Bio
Joan Helson is an empowerment-based self defence instructor, women’s educator, speaker, author and cancer survivor. Joan founded Sisu Women’s Self Defence (2006), which is Atlantic Canada’s first self defence training school for women. A long time student of the martial arts and an instructor for over 2 decades, she holds black belts in Chon Tu Kwan (Combat) Hapkido (4th degree black belt and certified senior instructor) and Taekwondo (Kukkiwon and ITA certified black belt, certified instructor). In addition to teaching, Joan cross trains as often as she can in a variety of defensive-oriented styles of martial arts (including Jeet Kune Do, jujitsu, krav maga, jiujitsu and Filipino martial arts), has completed PPCT’s Defensive Tactics, Pressure Point Control Tactics and Spontaneous Knife Defense certification programs and is an apprentice instructor in the ICHF’s Tactical Pressure Points program. Her job-specific safety training programs have been attended by Realtors, health care professionals, security staff, lawyers, small business owners and many others. She has presented workshops for hundreds of women, teens and pre-teens in Atlantic Canada, and has been invited to speak to issues of women’s safety and self defence on CBC television, CTV National and Atlantic, Global TV, radio talk shows, newspapers and blogs. In 2013, Joan was honoured to be a recipient of the prestigious Canadian Progress Club Women of Excellence Award for contributions to her community in the area of health, sport and wellness.

Julia Stevens

Mentor

Expand Bio

Julia Stevens graduated from Camp Courage in 2015. The camp was such a positive experience for her, considering she went into the camp wanting to be a paramedic and ended up inspired to become a firefighter. She’s currently working in the television production industry. Julia’s dream is to, one day, become a career firefighter. She has a real passion for helping people and is proud to give back to her community as she currently volunteer’s with station 17 in Cole Harbour.

Heather MacNeil

Mentor

Expand Bio

Heather MacNeil grew up in Dartmouth NS and serves as a volunteer firefighter, driver and pump operator at Station 13. She became interested in volunteering with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency for the personal challenges and learning opportunities presented by the department. Always being active and part of team sports growing up; becoming a volunteer firefighter allowed her to continue to be part of a high functioning team all while giving back to the community in which she grew up and most importantly helping others along the way. Heather currently works with Halifax Regional Municipality as a Community Recreation Coordinator.

Krista Lane

Mentor

Expand Bio

Krista Lane is an Acting Operations Supervisor with EHS. She has been a paramedic since 2014, and in that time has worked on the ground as well as in the Medical Communications Centre as a Senior Communications Officer. She graduated from Mount Allison University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Performing Arts and English. Krista is a founding member of the Committee for Diversity & Inclusion; outside her work with EHS, she and her wife founded a business that champions health equity for marginalized populations. In her spare time, Krista sits on the advisory committee for BRIC NS, writes and plays music as creative outlets, and keeps active with her six-year-old son, Oscar

Krista Eisan

Mentor

Expand Bio

Krista Eisan has volunteered with Halifax Regional Fire since 2010. In that time, she has also assisted as an instructor with volunteer recruits. She works with Muscular Dystrophy Canada as the regional advisor for Firefighters in HRM assisting with fundraising efforts when needed.

Allison Bolton

Mentor

Expand Bio

Allison Bolton currently an art and band teacher at Dartmouth High School. I’ve been teaching for over twenty years. When I turned 40, I saw a sign recruiting volunteer firefighter. It seemed like a great idea for a new start to serving my community. I started at Goffs seven years ago and transferred to Sackville shortly after VFR. I enjoy fire a great deal as I’ve had the opportunity to help others and meet new people.

Jodi Tait

Mentor

Expand Bio

Jodi Tait has been involved with emergency services for over 10 years. Some of her certifications include NFPA Firefighter Level II, Fire service instructor I, and Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress. She is also certified as an Incident scene safety officer.

She first started her path with the fire service as a volunteer firefighter with the Kentville Volunteer Fire Department. She attended and became a graduate of the Nova Scotia Firefighters School. Eventually, she moved on to be a volunteer with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency and later was hired as a career firefighter.

Tait is also a graduate from Nova Scotia Community College, has completed 2 years at Acadia University, is a former member of the Canadian Forces, and has spent 6 years working with building construction as a project manager for a restoration finish work company.

Currently, Tait is working as a career firefighter with HRFE and as an instructor at the Nova Scotia Firefighters School. She volunteers with organizations like Camp courage and Techsploration to help empower and encourage young women to explore and challenge themselves. “WE CAN DO ANYTHING AND WE CAN BE ANYTHING!”