Past Speakers


Lionel Crowthers, Fire Fighter/Burn Survivor

“Getting Through the Fire”

On February 4, 2007, a house fire in Winnipeg, Manitoba was reported to 911.  What was reported to be an “ordinary” and “routine” attached garage fire, proved to be anything but.  Minutes after responding, a flashover occurred, trapping the fire crews an the 2nd floor.  When the smoke cleared, two fire fighters were killed and two severely burned;Changing the lives of many fire families forever.

Lionel’s message, “Getting through the fire”, takes you on a journey when the “call” that transformed his life, came home.  He will explain the different healing paths he encountered becoming a burn survivor as well as the burn survivors family.  Lionel will explain how some stages of healing did not become evident until years later and continues to challenge the relationship with his family and friends.

Lionel & his family had such a desire to get back to some sense of normalcy..back to the life they once had, one that would unfortunately never return.  Lionel received 70% burns across his body, with 20% requiring grafts.

Enduring the trauma was one triumph, yet the struggle to recapture their lives & reaffirm a sense of self & family was and is a larger & definite trial.

Since their recovery, Lionel, with Joanna’s support & guidance, has concentrated his studies & training on Fire Fighter Survival, in its many forms.  He has been appointed as a Master Instructor with the International Association of Fire Fighters Ground Survival Program, trainer for the Petzl EXO Escape System, trained as a Peer Support for Burn Survivors & Fire Fighter Burn Survivors & District Coordinator for the IAFF 13th District Burn Foundation Coordinator.  Only through constant training & support, Lionel was able to return to the frontline as a Fire Fighter.

 Kelly Falardeau, Burn Survivor

“You’re More Than Enough”

Kelly Falardeau is a burn survivor.  She got burnt at two years old on 75% of her body and constantly struggled with her self-worth and confidence.  She found a way to go from near death to success;from the ugly scar-faced girl to the Top 10 Most Powerful and Influential Speaker, Fierce Woman of the Year, three times a Best Selling Author, recipient of the Queen Elizabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee Medal and most recently a YWCA Woman of Distinction.  You have to ask yourself how?  How did a burn survivor who constantly struggled with rejection, staring and teasing burst through all the negativity in her life to succeed?  You have to hear her speak or read her books to learn the stories of how she did it.

Friends, family and those who have worked with Kelly all say that Kelly doesn’t let fear stop her- when she wants to achieve something, she just does.  They also say that the fact that Kelly is a burn survivor since she was two years old is so motivating because she does not let circumstances dictate her success.

At 21, she was nominated and won the position of President of the Alberta Burn Rehabilitation Society.  As a kid, she also won the 4-H Most Improved Member award plus various speaking awards and even the fastest senior typist award in high school.

Kelly has been featured on various media in Canada, United States, Taiwan, Mexico and Africa such as Global TV Edmonton and Calgary, CTS TV, CTV TV, Breakfast TV, Access TV and Ghana TV.  She has also appeared as a guest on various radio shows around the world.  Articles have been written about her in the Edmonton Woman Magazine, Edmonton Examiner, Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun, Pioneer Balloons Balloon Magazine and she also won the MOM Executive Officer award from the Mom Magazine.

Kelly was chosen among thousands to present her business to the Dragons for the Dragon’s Den television series plus won the “Fierce Woman of the Year” award.

Kelly was selected out of 1500 women to compete in the every Woman model search competition, sponsored by Fashion Has No Borders and Ben Barry Agency.  She faced her fear of being judged by her appearance and walked the runway and won the Peoples’ Choice award.

Kelly has been involved in various burn camps and has spoken to a variety of groups including teenagers, adults, people with disabilities, Aboriginal groups and business people.

In 2013, Kelly went to Africa twice to help the burn survivors in Kenya and Ghana.  She is spreading the message of hope, burn prevention and education.

She is a sought-after international speaker because of her ability to engage others.  She is able to move audience’s emotions and make them see how a bad situation can become a great one.  She will have you crying, laughing and dancing in your chairs as she shares her many stories about risk, rejection, resilience and overcoming adversity.

Not only is Kelly a speaker, she is also a best selling author and wrote three books called “No Risks No Rewards”, “Self Esteem Doesn’t Come in a Bottle”, and 1000 Tips for Teenagers.  Two of which are best sellers.

Kelly’s website is


John Westhaver, Burn Survivor

“A story of Triumph”

John Westhaver is a recipient of the “Queen Elizabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee Medal” for his continued motivational speaking and his work in the community.

John Westhaver was born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, a small town located on the east bank of the St. Croix River.  He is the second youngest of eight children and remembers his childhood fondly.  John was a well-rounded, responsible student with a close group of friends.  In 1994, a month and a half before his high school graduation, John was in a horrific car crash with three other young men.  The teens had been enjoying a Friday night-drinking beer in the car, blasting music, and speeding.  Although the driver of the vehicle was sober, the car lost control at a sharp bend and hit a telephone pole, killing everyone in the car except John.

When he awoke from a medically-induced coma a month later, John learned that his friends had died in the crash.  He was fortunate to be alive but had suffered life-threatening burns to 75 per cent of his body.  Through his extensive rehabilitation, John found the strength to move forward.  His ongoing recovery inspired him to devote his life to helping others make the choices that he hadn’t.

When John moved to Victoria, British Columbia in 2000, he joined a burn support group.  His physical therapist, inspired by John’s natural ability to uplift and inspire others, suggested that he consider public speaking.  John joined Toastmasters and conducted his first presentation in 2002.  John has been a speaker with the ICBC Roadsense Speaker Program since January 2009.

John Westhaver has been speaking to students for over a decade across Canada and the U.S.A.  With over 450 presentations completed he is a very established and powerful motivational speaker.  He is dedicated to empowering youth with the courage and strength to make responsible choices in everyday life.  John’s long list of clients includes: Firefighters Burn Fund, Victoria, BC; Insurance Cooperation of British Columbia; Crime Stoppers; Vancouver Island Health Authority; Connecticut Burn Care Foundation; and Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.

John is a trained volunteer with the Burn Survivor Group in Victoria, BC and has been since the mid 2000′s.  He enjoys helping others and supporting other burn survivors through the recovery process that comes with burn trauma.

John tells his story with humour and hope.  An Inspirational speaker, he inspires audiences to think about the simple choices they make in their everyday lives and to weigh the consequences of those choices.  John will discuss goal setting; overcoming fear; surviving the worst to find your inner peace; moving on after a traumatic event; and taking personal responsibility in a vehicle.

John’s website is


Dr. David Naysmith, Plastic Surgeon

“Two Giants and a Dwarf Reflect on War”

Dr. Naysmith is a native of Victoria, BC, a small dot on the map of the vast uncharted territory on the left side of Canada and a place where residents refer to Vancouver as “Eastern Canada”.  He began his career in Sciences in the physics department of Victoria High School, where he was voted the forty-third best physicist in the class.  There, after completing his first laboratory experiment in chemistry, he was asked to consider transferring to an arts program before anyone was seriously injured.  Despite this somewhat less than stellar beginning in the sciences he was able to complete a Bachelors degree in Zoology at the University of Victoria in 1971 and go on to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a dentist, graduating from the University of British Columbia Dental School in 1974.  His dream was quickly shattered when, after grinding other peoples teeth for about three months, he began to grind his own. He quickly realized that he was on a fast track to adding to the numerator in that well known statistic about dentists and suicide.  After several more years of book learning and apprenticeship, the University of British Columbia was kind enough to grant him a degree in Medicine 19 1977.  He went on to complete a residency in Plastic Surgery and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada in 1983.

David has practiced plastic surgery in Victoria for the last thirty years.  He still loves it and occasionally gets good results.  As a third year medical student he had his first experience in the management of a patient with a burn injury.  This affected him so profoundly that he made a decision to follow a career path that would allow him to be a part of managing burn injuries for the next thirty five years (and counting).  He spent a full year of his plastic surgery residency as “the Burn Resident”, and to this day still finds this aspect of his practice to be remarkably fulfilling.

He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at UBC and enjoys teaching medical students and residents.  He has presented academic papers at local, national and international meetings and is presently involved in a basic science research project at the University of Victoria that is looking at developing a skin substitute for burned patients.

As a keynote speaker he has addressed the British Columbia Operating Room Nurses Association, the Canadian Operating Room Nurses Association and in 2005 the American Operating Room Nurses Association.  The last of these was a presentation called “Keeping and Sharing the Passion in the Operating Room”, a topic that was far less exciting that the title might suggest.  He has been the Scholar in Residence at St. Michael’s University School and presented an address titled, “Getting There From Here”- a study of goal setting and success.  He is now honoured to be one of the keynote speakers at the Canadian Burn Survivor Conference.

His talk, titled “Two Giants and a Dwarf Reflect on War”, he will present some of the history of the beginnings of modern burn care by Dr. Gilles in World War 1 and Dr. McIndoe in World War 11.  He will then refer to some of his own experiences with Medecins San Frontieres in Bosnia and Eritrea where he treated was related injuries and in Cambodia and India where he treated clefts and burns.  Why does he think this will be of interest to this audience?  Well, firstly the “Two Giants” referred to are bigger than life personalities in the history of plastic surgery.  Secondly, it reinforces a wonderful life lesson which teaches us that each of us who consider ourselves successful in any aspect of our lives can usually trace the origin of that success to contact with a special individual who made such an impact upon us that we could not help but be changed forever by that experience.  Many of you, including John Westhaver, may be just such a special individual for someone.  Finally, and appropriately, the theme of this meeting addresses empowerment, the great force multiplier in all human endevours.


Spencer Beach

Spencer Beach went to work one day when a chemical he was working with ignited and created a flash fire. With a whistle and a bang he received severe burns to 87% of his body, was given a 5% chance to live, his whole identity changed and the effects of his incident rippled out to everyone in his life – especially his wife Tina who was four months pregnant with their first child.Through the months and years in the hospitals and therapy he battled back from the verge of death, routinely undergoing surgery, fought through overwhelming pain all while learning techniques to live with the scars while trying to find peace with his new life. He has since received the first Award of Courage from the Glenrose Hospital, become a Toast Master, a volunteer with the Friends of the University of Alberta Hospital, an international professional speaker and most importantly a husband and father. One of his greatest pet peeves is when people stop him to tell him how strong or courageous he is because he believes we all have the same strength – he just had no other option but to find his. Join him as he shares how went from being a burn survivor to an “extremely hot man”.

Curtis Webber

Curtis Weber shares his personal experience as a young worker severely injured on the job.  He was only 17 and in his third day on the job building bins when the crane moving a hopper came in contact with an overhead power line.  Three rounds of 14,400 volts of electricity traveled through Curtis’ body burning over 60% of his body.  His right arm and left leg had to be amputated.  Curtis’ message is simple – every workplace injury is preventable. “You have to know what the hazards are whatever you are doing and plan your activities around them.”  He will share his personal story of a workplace injury, talk about rights and responsibilities in the workplace and put a positive twist on a serious injury.  He now works with Prevention at the Workers’ Compensation Board as a spokesperson/trainer.

Megan Smith-Harris

Imagine waking up in a hospital bed bandaged from head to toe, and discovering your life, as you knew it, has been destroyed. Fire is unforgiving and it can strike anyone at anytime. TRIAL BY FIRE: Lives Re-Forged is a feature length documentary that explores the lives of ordinary people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and got burned. They emerged from the experience, not as victims, but as survivors, reclaiming first their lives, and then their dreams.

TRIAL BY FIRE features a diverse group of people from all walks of life: a firefighter injured in the line of duty; a model/honors student who refuses to be defined by her scars.; an industrial worker slammed by an explosion; a young race car driver who barely escapes a flaming wreck; a family united by tragedy; and a teenage athlete who triumphs against all odds. With no choice but to wear their battle scars in public, these survivors are left with the daunting task of coming face-to-face with a culture that places a premium on physical beauty over strength of character. The stories are framed and given insight by war hero, actor and burn survivor, J.R. Martinez. TRIAL BY FIRE: Lives Re-Forged is a celebration of courage and a movement to make the world a more respectful and welcoming place. When you forge metal with fire it becomes stronger – it turns out the same is true of the human spirit.

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