On August 01, 1969 my Dad gave me a fly tying kit for my birthday.
I think he figured I would crank out flies he could use when we were out on the lake. My dad was sadly mistaken and for a number of years my flies looked like they had come from someone’s windshield. Dad knew I was a teenager and there wasn’t much he could tell me, but I watched him fly fish and saw the peace it brought him.
Over the many years I have spent fly fishing, I have met so many great people who have given of their knowledge and time to make me a better fisherman. I knew I wanted to find a way to give back to the sport.
Along the road, I began looking for a way to make fly fishing more meaningful both in my life and in the lives of others. There is so much power in spending time on the water; it is healing, both physically and spiritually. I knew that others could benefit from the experience.
In early 2006 I came across Project Healing Waters Inc. while doing some Internet research. I realized right away that the programs they offered were what I was looking for as well.
I wrote to the President and Founder, Ed Nicholson and asked him if he would mind if I tried to bring Project Healing Waters to Canada. Ed wrote back and said, “Hey I don’t know how you are going to do it, but go ahead!”
In 2009, after lots of letter writing and research, we signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Project Healing Waters Inc. and became Project Healing Waters Canada.
Many people have asked me why I did not start my own program. My answer to that is that I believe that people helping people is all about humanity, about being “Human.” Borders should not matter; we need to take care of each other despite political and geographical obstacles.
The people at Project Healing Waters Inc. and the men and women I have met here in Canada who offer support in many ways, are proof to me, that what I envision can and will come true.
Greg took to fly-angling in his thirties. Several harried years of extensive angling in Alberta, fly-tying and teaching the sport to others lead to his participation and direction of a national fly angling web community.
Around the same time Canada suffered it first major loss in the Afghan operation. April 2002 saw the loss of 4 Canadian soldiers in a friendly fire accident. Through close friends he was introduced in 2004 to one of the ‘un-injured’ soldiers who were present at the incident at the farm far away in Afghanistan.
The soldier (by that time discharged from the CF) was suffering PTSD symptoms regularly directly as a result of the friendly fire incident. The short and long term impact on that soldiers daily life was significant.
In 2006, the Afghan war truly hit home. Just a few weeks from the end of his second tour, a close family friend of Greg’s was critically injured in a suicide bomb attack. The attack killed Canadian diplomat Glynn Berry, caused significant head trauma to two soldiers and destroyed his friends legs.
Greg spent as much time as was feasible through the soldiers recovery, and watched the growth of the Northern Alberta Amputee Program under Paul Franklin’s passionate and dedicated care.
In the summer of 2006 while Paul continued his recovery, Greg was able to bring his PTSD suffering acquaintance on a fly fishing trip just a few hours from Edmonton. The 6 hours float tubing had a profound effect on the spirits of the soldier and it was apparent that for some men – the simple act of going fishing could be a real opportunity for therapy. [Ed note: That soldier, Darren Astles is now a client of PHWFFC, and one of our strong supporters!]
When Kerry Pitt began carrying the torch to bring Project Healing Waters to Canada, the opportunity did not go unnoticed.
Greg has served on the executive of the Fisheries Enhancement Society of Alberta (now dissolved) and the executive of the Northern Lights Fly Tyers and Fishers. He has taught fly fishing and fly tying, as well as guided on north central Alberta’s pothole lakes. His work has been published in Fly Fusion magazine and Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine and he continues to write, blog, and produce tying demonstrations through several online channels.
Paul Morrell retired from the Canadian Army in 1996 after a career as a “Soldier” first and “Supply Tech” second. He was honored to have the pleasure of serving with the 1st Battalion PPCLI, LDSH (RC) and 1 Service Battalion in Calgary.
During a 5 year posting in Edmonton heI worked closely with the BAMEO as IOR Coordinator responsible for the C130 Herc’s, 408 Sqn Helicopters and 440 Sqn Twin Otters Spare Parts.
His interest in fishing started in Wabush, Labrador where he fished with his dad, he carries and shares these memories to this day as he fly fishes with his son Geordan.
His love for fly-fishing started on the Bow River in the early ’80s. In the beginning he felt it gave him solitude and peace of mind offering a lifetime of learning that sees no boundaries or discrimination. With each cast there is eternal hope for what he or his clients may be awarded with, and most importantly he shares this passion with his wife Linda.
As a fly fisherman and “Damn Fine Guide” on the Bow River, he has the opportunity to pass on the wisdom he has gained from so many fly-fishing people that have shared his life of fishing adventures. His involvement with PHWFC started when he was redesigning his dory for wheelchair accessibility and received a call from his Junior High School friend Ray Fairweather – the rest is water under the bridge. Paul has a history of working closely with Brain Injury Survivors through www.arbi.ca since the early 80’s. Paul currently operates a guide service on the Bow River in Calgary Alberta. You will find him at the oars of his custom made McKenzie dory well after dark on the water he loves – The Bow River.
Remember to take a child fishing today!!