Executive Director, Tema Conter Memorial Trust Foundation
Law & Security Administration, 1981
For men and women in justice, emergency and military services, tragic events are a daily occurrence – and many have difficulty coping with the aftermath.
In 1988, Vince Savoia was the paramedic called to the scene of the horrific murder of a young woman, Tema Conter. When trying to live with what he had seen became impossible, Vince realized that, in order to heal from the experience, he needed to find a way to honour Conter.
In 2001 Savoia created the Tema Conter Memorial Trust Foundation, a registered non-profit whose mission is to provide resources for those affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and help create awareness for critical incident stress.
Today, Savoia is a nationally known expert in work-related mental health and wellness, with an extensive background in crisis intervention and peer support. He advocates extensively on behalf of first responders and military personnel suffering from the effects of workplace trauma.
“There isn’t enough done yet on teaching these people to take care of themselves,” he explains. “I want to take care of our first responders, raise awareness and chip away at the stigma.”
To further spread awareness, the trust holds an annual national essay contest designed to help familiarize emergency services and military students with PTSD. Since 2000, the trust has awarded 99 scholarships totaling $244,500.
Savoia says that he always knew he wanted to give back. “I knew that I wanted to serve the public. I wanted to help others. I always had the belief that when you help others, you help yourself.” It was at Humber that he found what became his life’s direction and the training he needed to make a difference. He still maintains strong ties with the program and its students.