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Paddler With PTSD Tackles Waters of Ontario

Paddleboarder Trevor Petersen is in Ottawa this week planning an epic journey through the waterways of Ontario to raise awareness and end the stigma around post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Launching his touring paddleboard from Balmy Beach, Toronto on June 13, 2015 Petersen intends to travel along the shores of Lake Ontario, into the Trent Waterways, through Quinte Bay, Kingston, Cataraqui, and the Rideau River, eventually ending his voyage in Ottawa.

“I struggle with PTSD, and I have a passion for paddleboarding and by combining the two I want to give people hope and dispel some of the myths that are out there about PTSD. My goal this summer is to raise awareness and funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association,” said Petersen.

On a good day, if the weather cooperates, Peterson averages six hours on the board, roughly 150 metres from the shore. On a windy day or a day with forecasted thundershowers, he has to be careful on the water. He is planning to take 30 to 45 days to reach his destination.

“How far I get also depends on the accessibility to checkpoints. Sometimes, because of the shoreline I just can’t get in, and I keep on paddling. Although I’m mostly standing on a touring board I can’t carry a lot of food and my water purifier can’t always be trusted. I’m burning a lot of energy. I have to drink a lot so sometimes I just have to come in,” explained Petersen.

Petersen’s mother, Marie-Paul is his support and the administrator of Paddling for PTSD, Ontario.

From the shore, she follows Peterson’s route in their RV. At rest points she acts as an advocate for Peterson, making calls, talking to the media, handling donations, checking and rechecking the weather and the currents.

“I certainly would welcome any support. If anyone is interested in joining me in the RV, or paddling with Trevor they can connect with us through our website. He loves company on the water. We get to meet some really fantastic people,” said Marie-Paul.

Petersen is in all out training mode, preparing for his June commitment. He works out at his local YMCA in Edmonton twice a day, focusing on weight training and cardio. Wearing a dry suit he takes his paddleboard out on lakes in the vicinity of Vernon, British Columbia.

This is Petersen’s second summer paddling for PTSD. In 2014, he travelled throughout Alberta’s waterways, stopping along the way to raise awareness and dollars for Wounded Warriors Canada.

Trevor Petersen returned in 2007 from a tour in Afghanistan, where he repaired aircraft. Upon his return home, he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. Petersen released from the military in 2010. His attempts at gaining employment were continuously met with a downward spiral effect. He realized he had to focus his energy solely on his own rehabilitation.

Between two stays at Homewood, an addiction and mental health treatment centre in Toronto, he started paddleboarding and in his words, ‘the real healing began’. Petersen found the sport very therapeutic, became heavily involved, and now paddles for PTSD awareness across the country.

Please track or financially support Paddling for PTSD, Ontario by visiting

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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