ASF Supports Flyfishing Therapy Program For Wounded Veterans in Ottawa/Gatineau

ASF Supports Fly Fishing Therapy Program For Wounded War Veterans In Ottawa/Gatineau

St. Andrews, N.B.— The Atlantic Salmon Federation(ASF) is pleased to sponsor a new program that introduces  veterans to fly fishing.  Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada serves military personnel who have been wounded, injured or disabled, by aiding their physical and emotional recovery through fly fishing and fly tying.   

Charles Cusson, ASF’s Director of Quebec Programs, was recently approached by André Baril, the Program Coordinator for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada.  Baril asked Cusson if ASF would like to be a sponsor.  He also asked him to volunteer and Cusson was very happy to be able to do both.

“The whole idea is that everything involved in the project is therapeutic,” said Cusson.  “Most have likely never fly fished.  When you first start fly fishing and fly tying, you become so immersed that you forget the other things that might be bothering you.”

Cusson had an opportunity recently to meet with some of  the Veterans.  “I was a little apprehensive at first as I have a soft spot for these guys,” he said.  “I was very emotional before going there but after a few minutes I felt quite at ease.  They were working on tying their first flies so I felt quite at home.”

“This program is intended for people who are wounded only,” said André Baril, coordinator of the Ottawa-Gatineau chapter.   “They could be military or RCMP, but the idea is to provide some state of rehabilitation over and above regular medical support.    There is a limit to what regular medicine can provide.”

Even though Baril’s group has only been meeting for a few weeks, they already have 40 members, ranging between 30 and 40 years of age.  The average age is 35, most of whom have taken part in armed combat.

“It has a big relaxation value for our many PTSD wounded,” said Baril.   “I myself am a fly fisherman and veteran who went to Cypress, Croatia and Kosovo.  This program provides a lifetime of rehab.   We know fly fishing and fly tying are very relaxing.  Being in nature you can decompress and let go.  It’s very good for the body and mind.”

There are three phases to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada.  The first involves learning how to cast, which Baril’s members did in October with the help of a casting professional.  Next, is phase two, where they learn the art of fly tying, and finally phase three, where they take what they learned out on the river.  Baril is currently looking for a fly-fishing location for the veterans for the spring of 2014.

Baril says he would not have been able to launch the program had it not been for the support of organizations like ASF.   “All of the equipment is provided to these guys at no cost,” he said.   “We have high-quality rods and reels and fly fishing and fly tying  equipment thanks to our sponsors.”

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada has chapters located across Canada and a similar program is also run in the United States.

André Baril says one of his current members is moving to Miramichi, N.B. in a few months and he intends to launch a new program for wounded veterans there.  “The most important thing is for them to not feel injured or undervalued,” he said.  “There is a big need for this.”

For more information or to contribute to the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada program, please visit http://projecthealingwaters.ca.


The Atlantic Salmon Federation is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their well-being and survival depend.  ASF has a network of seven regional councils (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Maine and Western New England).  The regional councils cover the freshwater range of the Atlantic salmon in Canada and the United States.

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Photos of Program

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