Canad Inns Destination Centre Polo Park 1405 St Matthews Ave, Winnipeg, Manitoba


The Manitoba Disaster Management Conference presents a wide variety of speakers who share a wealth of knowledge and insight based on training and experience across a wide range of topics that are relevant to today’s leaders, emergency managers and first responders. For more info on their individual presentations, see our Agenda here. 

Become an MDMC featured speaker.

You have an opportunity to inform, enlighten and discuss disaster management as a presenter at the 2023 January conference.

Cheryl Christian

Cheryl has eight years experience in municipal government as Councillor and former Mayor of the Rural Municipality of West St. Paul. With over 20 years community leadership experience, she has worked with all levels of government, various community organizations and private partners to secure funding and improve quality of life for residents in her community. An advocate for community safety and respectful workplaces, Cheryl collaborated with municipal leaders and the provincial government to strengthen Council Member’s Code of Conduct legislation. Recently completing certificate programs in conflict resolution, workplace investigation and mediation, Cheryl offers these important services to municipalities across Manitoba. Cheryl is president of a newly formed municipal consulting company called GovFox Inc.

Prior to municipal politics and consulting, Cheryl worked as an Instructor and Research Project Co-Ordinator at the University of Manitoba. Cheryl has completed her B.A., Master’s Degree and PhD course work in Criminology and Sociology. Dedicated to good governance and community safety, Cheryl has been working with Shelley Napier, Managing Director of Napier Emergency Consulting, to help educate municipal leaders.

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Christine Blair

Christine Blair is the Mayor, Municipality of the County of Colchester, Nova Scotia. First elected as Mayor in 2016, she was re-elected for a second term in October, 2020. She has been involved with municipal government for 30 years, serving as a Mayor and Councillor for 17 years and as a Village Chair and Commissioner for 13 years. A member of all standing and ad hoc County committees; ex-officio member of the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce; Director on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Board of Directors and Chair of the Atlantic Caucus. Mayor Blair has also represented Colchester County at international, national and provincial conferences, and is a member of the Executive, Atlantic Mayors Congress.

Mayor Blair was a keynote speaker for International Women’s Day events held in Amman, Jordan, for the FCM Jordan Municipal Support Project. She represented the Colchester-Cumberland Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Global Geopark at a conference held in Seville, Spain, 2019.
Employment experience includes both public and private sectors. She was an Executive Assistant to a provincial Minister, and to a Deputy Minister, which she found to be a huge benefit when representing the municipality with other levels of government. She assisted with a successful family-run small business for 35 years.

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Danny Blair

Danny Blair is a Professor of Geography at the University of Winnipeg, where he is now in his 36th year of teaching and research. He teaches courses related to weather, climate, and climate change. Danny is also co-founder and Co-Director of the university’s Prairie Climate Centre, which is one of Canada’s most respected and utilized ‘climate change portals’. Their flagship product is the online Climate Atlas of Canada. Being the ‘science guy’, he leads the team at the PCC that produces the maps and data products for the Atlas.

Ellie Cansfield
Ellie Cansfield

Ellie Cansfield has been a Canadian Red Cross volunteer since 2013. Most of her Red Cross service has been with Emergency Management and Disaster Risk Reduction. Notably, she is the most active member of the Support to Evacuation and Repatriation Team. This is a team, which is unique to Manitoba, deploys into disaster affected First Nation communities on short notice to ensure safe evacuation or return home of the community. Ellie’s contributions to the Canadian Red Cross have also involved planning, pandemic response, fund development, and leading training sessions for reception centres.

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Gabriel Peters

Gabriel Peters is the Provincial Manager of Emergency Management in Manitoba and Nunavut for the Canadian Red Cross. In this function, Gabriel supports the team of emergency management coordinators and volunteers to provide services in response for small-scale emergencies and large-scale disasters. Gabriel is a University of Winnipeg graduate with a bachelor of arts in Geography. His background includes leadership, water safety and disaster management consulting.

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Grant Durfey

Grant currently works as a Emergency Management Program Specialist with Niagara Region Emergency Management. In his day to day role, Grants portfolio covers EOC preparedness, CBRNE planning, notification system lead, and responsibility for implementing and coordinating Niagara Regions Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Grant functioned as the Regional EOC Liaison Officer during the COVID-19 response leading coordination efforts between the Region, Public Health, local municipalities and various other stakeholders. Previously Grant worked as a Paramedic and in a haz-mat/technical rescue capacity and has participated in international aid trips, most recently heading to Haiti to work in a free mobile medical clinic. Grant is a strong proponent of the concept of Community Resiliency and believes working with the public is one of the best ways to improve disaster preparedness, planning, response and recovery.

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Greg Simmonds
Director Incident Management and Operational Coordination

Greg Simmonds is currently the Director of Incident Management and Operational Coordination in CSE’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (the Cyber Centre). Greg’s group is responsible for responding to cybersecurity incidents affecting the Government of Canada (GC) and systems of importance to the GC on behalf of the Cyber Centre. His team also coordinates multi-departmental activities and Canada’s role in international efforts in response to serious cybersecurity incidents affecting the GC and systems of importance to the GC and coordinates Cyber Centre preparations for major planned events such as federal elections. The team also provides timely, accurate, and actionable information about the most pressing cybersecurity threats facing Canadian IT infrastructure through various products published on the website and sent directly to critical systems owners across Canada.

Inspector Gord Spado

Inspector Gord Spado is a 32-year veteran of the Winnipeg Police Service. He joined the Service in 1990 after graduating from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. During his career, he has worked in General Patrol, plain clothes investigations, training, policy and procedure, strategic initiatives/change management, communications, and Traffic Division. Gord is currently assigned to Special Projects and Special Events.

As a Special Events Commander, he oversees larger events that due to either overall scope or level of risk are unsuitable to be handled at the Divisional Level. This includes protests, parades, rallies, concerts, political events and visits by dignitaries.

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Jack Lindsay

Jack Lindsay is an emergency manager with 30 years’ experience practicing and teaching disaster risk reduction and emergency management. He is an innovator in our discipline who is committed to seeing our discipline fulfill its potential and serve our communities successfully now and into the future. Jack is the founding chair of Brandon University’s Applied Disaster and Emergency Studies department.

Jay Shaw

Jay Shaw is the Assistant Chief of Emergency Management and Public Information with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service. Jay has more than 22 years experience in emergency services and health care, serving as an operational firefighter and paramedic for the Department of National Defense and the City of Winnipeg. He has had a wide array of emergency response and health care experiences, working in hospital emergency rooms and rural Emergency Medical Services and is currently serving with many dedicated staff in the municipal fight against COVID-19. Jay holds an MA in Disaster and Emergency Management and has numerous diplomas and certificates related to healthcare, emergency services, and disaster management. Jay is an adjunct instructor at Dalhousie University’s Fire Service Leadership Program and is a recent graduate from Harvard University’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative studying Crisis Leadership. Family time at the lake is his sanctuary and one day he hopes to become a BBQ master and finally learn how to hit a driver.

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Jill Macyshon

Jill Macyshon is the Winnipeg Bureau Chief for CTV NATIONAL NEWS, covering significant events unfolding across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the surrounding regions.

In this role, Macyshon has spent time on the streets of Winnipeg covering the city’s meth epidemic. She reported from Humboldt, SK in April 2018, following the Humboldt Broncos bus accident that killed 16 people. In 2013, Macyshon was part of CTV NATIONAL NEWS’ comprehensive reporting on the historic flooding in southern Alberta, travelling from Calgary to Medicine Hat to deliver reports from the hardest-hit community, High River, AB. Macyshon also covered the long legal battle in Winnipeg against former junior hockey coach Graham James.

Macyshon has travelled to dozens of Indigenous communities across Canada and has also travelled to remote communities across Northern Manitoba, where water and health issues are a constant challenge.

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Dr. Johanu Botha

Dr. Johanu Botha holds one of the only PhDs in Canada that is specialized in Canadian emergency management. His work on floods, wildfires, and hurricanes is one of this country’s only multi-hazard, multi-province, large-scale disaster response doctoral analysis, published in 2022 as a textbook for emergency managers, officials, soldiers, and scholars – Boots on the Ground: Disaster Response in Canada (Boots on the Ground: Disaster Response in Canada: Botha, Johanu: 9781487529772: Books –

Johanu took lead of the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization in 2019 to bring a strategic, whole-of-government lens to emergency management with an extra focus on mitigation efforts that reduce disaster impacts over the long term. Some of the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization initiatives overseen by Johanu include a revamped Disaster Financial Assistance program, launching a new Mitigation and Preparedness Program, and successfully coordinating government’s response to multiple natural disasters, including the massive 2022 flood. Johanu has brought emergency management expertise and capacity to other large operations, including Manitoba’s successful COVID-19 vaccination roll out and integrating displaced Ukrainians into the province.

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Lee Heinrichs

Lee Heinrichs has been an integral part of Manitoba’s Incident Command in response to COVID-19 as the acute care planning lead, while also performing his duties as the Provincial Lead, Clinical Integration. Lee brings a wealth of experience to this important role from his previous positions including: Director of Patient Services Surgery at HSC; Director of Patient Services, Central Support at HSC; Manager of Patient Care, Adult PACU & Day Surgery at HSC; and as an acute care registered nurse. Lee holds a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Manitoba, as well a Master of Health Studies from Athabasca University.

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Max Schachter

Max Schachter is a national school safety advocate. His son Alex was one of the 17 victims murdered in the Parkland school shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018. Max is the founder and executive director of the501(c)(3) Safe Schools for Alex. Their mission is to provide most current school safety best practices and resources to students, parents, school districts and law enforcement so that all children can learn in a safe environment.

Max has also worked to improve the safety and security of Florida’s 2.4 million students through his appointment to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School Public Safety commission. The MSD commission, established by former Governor Rick Scott, was tasked with leading the state wide investigation into the Parkland school shooting and developing recommendations to protect Florida’s children.

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Michelle Ford

Michelle Ford is Senior Advisor of operational readiness and planning for Manitoba and Nunavut with the Canadian Red Cross. Her role focuses on hazard forecasting and planning so that the Red Cross can be ready to respond to disasters. Prior to this role, Michelle was the emergency management coordinator for the Winnipeg area, supervising local Red Cross Emergency Management volunteers. Michelle has a bachelors of Environmental Studies, with honours in International Development from the University of Waterloo and a masters of arts in Emergency Management from Royal Roads University.

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Monika Warren

Monika Warren is a registered nurse, and graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor’s of Nursing and later completed a Master’s degree in leadership studies at Royal Roads University. She has had progressive clinical and leadership roles within the system spanning Oncology, Medicine, Woman’s and Child Health. She is passionate about finding innovative ways to improve clinical services by listening and learning from patient experiences in our health system. These past two years she left her role as Chief Nursing Officer at HSC to support COVID provincial response as the Operations Chief. During this time, she developed a greater understanding of how we can improve access to care and services by working together as a provincially integrated system. She is currently the Chief Nursing Officer for Shared Health and COO for provincially coordinated health services.

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Nate Malazdrwicz

Major Nate Malazdrewicz joined the army reserve in 2002 in 38 (Winnipeg) Service Battalion before re-mustering to the regular forces in 2003. He was commissioned as an Infantry Officer in 2006 after completing his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Manitoba. He deployed as a Platoon Commander on Operation Athena to Afghanistan in 2009-2010, then held various command and staff positions across Canada until 2021 when he took over his current position as the Joint Task Force West Liaison Officer to the Manitoba Provincial Government.

Nicholas Verleun
Nicholas Verleun

Nicholas Verleun, Emergency Management Operations Officer, is a recent member of the Public Safety Canada team, he is ex-military, having spent 16 years serving. Nicholas has completed graduate studies in disaster and emergency management at Royal Roads University. He is originally from Prince Edward Island, and now resides in Brandon, MB. Nick enjoys a wide variety of leisure activities including camping, travel and woodworking. He is very happily married to his lovely wife Katia.

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Patricia Martel

Patricia Martel is an experienced emergency management practitioner with a passion for enhancing the emergency management profession through the development and implementation of best practices. Patricia has 15 years’ experience in the field of emergency management which includes working for provincial and municipal governments. She has significant experience reviewing emergency management programs and providing recommendations that move them towards a more effective, proactive approach.

She has extensive experience in developing plans and procedures including emergency response plans and hazard specific plans. She is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) through the International Association of Emergency Managers. Patricia completed a PhD focused on effective operational emergency planning for vulnerable populations with a case study on schools. Her research focused on the social science aspects of emergency management and complemented her strong background in the natural sciences. This included research on natural hazards with a focus on severe weather. In addition, Patricia works as a consultant with Napier Emergency Consulting to create emergency plans and programs for an array of clients.

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Paul Samyn

Paul Samyn, Editor of the Winnipeg Free Press: Paul Samyn has been part of the Free Press newsroom for a quarter century, working his way up after starting as a rookie reporter in 1988. And if you count the time he spent delivering the newspaper as a boy growing up in St. James, his connection to the Free Press goes back even further. As a reporter, Paul wrote for every section of the paper, covered elections, wars overseas and the funerals of a royal princess and a prime minister.

The graduate of the University of Winnipeg and Red River College helped lead the Free Press’ political coverage for a decade as its Ottawa bureau chief before being named city editor in 2007. Paul was appointed to the Editor’s office in the summer of 2012.

Robert Belton

Robert Belton is Recovery & Mitigation Specialist at Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization (EMO). In this role, he helps administer Disaster Financial Assistance programs in both the private and public sectors. Robert comes to Manitoba EMO after five years at Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure’s Water Management, Planning and Standards section where he was involved with flood risk mapping and development review. Robert has a Bachelors of Environmental Design (Landscape + Urbanism) from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture.

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Serena Lewis

Recently recognized by the Canadian and Nova Scotia Association of Social Work with a 2020 Distinguished Service Award, Serena Lewis is a social worker, consultant and educator committed to values of social change.

Her career in Nova Scotia has been diverse in non-profit, provincial, and federal systems. She has been a champion in each of these sectors advocating for, and with, the people she engages. In 2018 awarded the Wesley and Jeanne Drodge Award for Health and Social Policy, Serena has been committed to asking hard questions of systems, leaders and the public.

As a clinician who has specialized in the field of dying, death and grief, she has mentored, educated and case consulted with teams locally, provincially and nationally. A facilitator and committee participant on various national groups, she has elevated the necessity for social justice in end of life. Her participation and activism in the Nova Scotia Mass Casualty tragedy has demonstrated that Canadians need to rethink how we live and die. Family and community centred approaches are necessary for natural death and grief, and they become critical when violence intersects.

Shelley Napier

Shelley was employed with Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) for 32 years, retiring in 2017 and starting her own consulting firm. Her career has been spent working with Manitoba communities offering emergency management training, education and planning. During the span of her career, she has worked internationally leading federally funded international training contracts in the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary and Asia, educating government and municipal officials on how to build emergency programs.

Shelley’s extensive knowledge of emergency management has been gained through work with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), NATO, and Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and years managing emergencies. She was Manitoba’s representative on the Canadian Emergency Management College’s training committee for 17 years, developing educational programs used across Canada. Today, Shelley works with municipalities, academic institutions, First Nations and private industry developing plans and programs to meet their emergency management needs.

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Stephanie Woltman

Stephanie Woltman is the A/Manager of Mitigation at Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization. In her role, she administers the Mitigation and Preparedness Program and supports Manitoba’s effort to be more proactive and resilient when facing future disasters. Stephanie has worked at Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure in areas of water management since 2013. Stephanie holds a Masters of the Environment from the University of Manitoba, where her research focused on wetland compensation programming in Manitoba.

Grow your network and share your experiences at this year’s MDMC.