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Forging Ahead: How blacksmithing is helping first responders and veterans with healing


A unique blacksmith workshop in St. Adolphe, Man., is helping veterans and first responders cope with their emotions.

At the workshop, those experiencing stress, anger or pain learn to name their feelings, and then hammer them out while also learning artistic metalwork.

“You’re pounding away on metal, and you can think about how you are feeling, and just kind of let it out flow through the movements you are doing here,” said Winnipeg firefighter Laura Duncan.

Canadian Armed Forces veteran Cameron Bennett created Forging Ahead in 2018 after he was medically released from the military. He built a shop just a few steps from his door.

He said blacksmithing helped turn things around for him.

“I realized how much blacksmithing helped me with my PTSD and [operational stress injury] that I was diagnosed with. And figured that if it worked for me, then I could do it for other people.”.

First, Bennett was offering his program to veterans, and now it’s for anyone on the frontlines.

“This is an art therapy that helps anyone. I’m not going to close the door to anyone who has any type of PTSD, OSI or is just feeling down. It’s for them to feel a bit of pride for themselves,” he said.

All the rookie blacksmiths are closely mentored, with Bennett hoping to move the program to expand in a bigger space.

“I can work for hours on this, lose track of time and feel great because I accomplish something, and pour out my aggression in a productive way,” he said.

- With files from CTV’s Nicole Dube. Top Stories

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