Cameron Bennett - Executive Founder
20 year veteran of the Canadian forces, serving tours to Bosnia, Afghanistan and multiple internal aid relief operations.
After Service in 2018 & suffering from PTSD, I created this organization to help myself and others with similar problems.
My overall goal one day is to have a fully operational school of arts, dedicated to helping veterans and first responders with OSI and mental health conditions.
Jana Hoeschen – President
Since 2009, I have been working in a nursing home providing Therapeutic Recreation.
In 2018, I was diagnosed with PTSD and began my recovery journey.
In 2021, I learned about Forging Ahead. From the first day I was introduced to blacksmithing and feeling the benefits after making my first piece, I knew I wanted to be a part of this program.
While I haven’t done as much in the shop as some of the other guys, I am excited to watch this program grow and help others.
“Life is like a blacksmith, it beats you down until you are tempered and sharp enough to slice through any opposition.”
Nikki Hill – Vice President
Hello, I’m Nikki!
I’ve worked in health care for the last decade and understand the importance of an individual’s well-being, including mental health!! Often with physical ailments it is easier for people to understand what barriers and obstacles exist in their day-to-day lives. Mental illness is not always a tangible thing people can see. It is a cloak of invisibility that one wears, that changes and evolves as time goes on. But, just because no one can see it, does not mean it is any less real.
I joined Forging Ahead to experience how others move through their mental health journey and to strongly promote that a person’s well-being includes their mental well-being. I’m excited to be a part of this organization to provide alternative outlets of expression and healing, as we all walk through life’s journeys together, not alone.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?” – Albus Dumbledore
Cameron Bourre - Treasurer
I am a 25 yr veteran with the Canadian Armed Forces, still currently serving. I have had 3 operational deployments; 2 in Bosnia, and 1 in Afghanistan. I am married and have two children (14 girl, 10 boy). I spend most of my free time (when not at kids’ sports), ATV’ing/dirt biking with my kids and enjoying the cabin. I have volunteered my time with this charity, because I have been a friend of Cams for almost 24 years, and I have seen what it can offer first hand. The opportunity to have a place to open up and not be judged and learning something new at the same time has been fantastic.
Kori Plesiuk - Secretary
Hi! My name is Kori Plesiuk. I’m a small-town girl who understands the importance of feeling part of the community. I have three children and a wonderful husband. Between working at the school, volunteering on a number of community boards both in a leadership role and as support, and ferrying children back and forth to hockey, there is never a dull moment! When I first heard of Forging Ahead, I knew that I needed to find time to support this important initiative. Mental health is critical for your quality of life, and it can be a challenge to find support. The work we’re doing is important and I am excited for the future of this program.
“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”
– Virginia Woolf
Daniel Odinson – Shop Assistant
In my spare time I’ve been known to make/create some things using various types of media, (wood, leather, soapstone, clay, repurposing things, painting/drawing, etc), but I’ve always been a massive blacksmithing enthusiast AND a firm believer in the power of creating something to help deal with mental/emotional stress and/or injuries. There’s something about it that can be very zen, very calm and, subsequently, tremendously healing. So when I heard about Forging Ahead Inc. and what Cameron Bennett wanted to do with it, I was all in and wanted to help out in whatever way I could. It’s something I deeply believe in, love, and support with all my heart.
“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
– Kurt Vonnegut
Josiah - Shop Manager
After becoming interested in blacksmithing, Josiah acquired an anvil from his wife’s late grandfather dated back to the 1920’s. Josiah researched and built his own propane forge and starting moving metal in his garage.
With his long-standing experience in construction Josiah knows how to swing a hammer and has proven that he can indeed combine his passion for art with his love of knives! He is self-taught by studying other blacksmiths and practicing techniques in the forge.
Josiah has a unique ability to notice even the smallest details and loves explaining the way nature works to his two young children. He loves motorcycles, new challenges, adventure, adrenaline highs and is one of the easiest people to talk to.
Josiah joined Forging Ahead in 2020, strongly believing that blacksmithing and learning new skills are an effect means of coping with trauma. He is eager to impart the healing he has found in this creative outlet and we are excited for you to meet him!