Big Girls Don’t Cry

  • October 27, 2023
  • 2:30pm-4:30pm
  • FESTI - Fire & Emergency Services Training Institute 2025 Courtneypark Drive, East, Mississauga

Facilitated by Cheryl Hunt, Kristy-Lynn Pankhurst and Carissa Campbell

Resilience is defined as the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. It can also be defined as the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. “Bouncing back” and healing can involve coming out stronger on the other side. However, we must remember that healing comes in waves, and in those waves, our stories are written.

In this session, Safety Officer Cheryl Hunt, Training Officer Carissa Campbell & Fire Prevention Officer Kristy-Lynn Pankhurst will share stories of challenges, downfalls, life lessons & personal growth. From near-miss incidents to harassment on the job, and feelings of imposter syndrome; their stories are very different; however, their messages are the same.

In the face of adversity, each of these women remained resilient, overcame the unexpected that helped to shape their futures. Now, they each choose to smile as they reflect on lessons learned. After all, Big girls don’t cry…..or do they?

Cheryl Hunt

Cheryl Hunt was one of the first female firefighters hired by the Ottawa Fire Service. With 20 years of experience, she has helped to pave the way for women in the fire service, having acquired many scars along the way. Cheryl has recently promoted into the role of Safety Officer and is now responsible for overseeing the health and safety of the members of the Ottawa Fire Service.

Over the years Cheryl’s interest and passion for mental health has grown. She was certified as an instructor for Mental Health First Aid and joined the inaugural peer support team in 2015 which began the initial stages of mental health awareness for OFS. She has since taken many courses that focus on suicide prevention, resilience coaching and general mental health awareness for emergency first responders. Then in 2020 this turned personal when Cheryl received a diagnosis for mental health injuries acquired on the job accelerated from gender-based bullying and harassment.

Alongside of Kristy-Lynn and Carissa Campbell, Cheryl is going to share her story that lead to mental health crisis and what helped her on her road to recovery and Post Traumatic Growth.

“The path to mental health crisis can be quick and all consuming. It is not linear and very blurred. The path to recovery is even harder to define and embrace. For that there are many truths that must be acknowledged, accountability and forgiveness that need to be employed and unwavering work that must be put into self every single day. It is a choice and commitment because no one is coming to save you and do the work for you!’ Cheryl

Kristy-Lynn Pankhurst

Kristy-Lynn is currently completing the Queens University Master of Education specializing in World Indigenous Studies in Education. Throughout her studies, she hopes to determine effective strategies for the development and delivery of fire & life safety education to reduce the risk of fire in Indigenous communities. Kristy-Lynn previously obtained her B.A. (Hons.) in Communication and Digital Media Studies at Ontario Tech University while studying the use of social media as a cost-effective public education tool. She has also completed NFPA certifications as a Fire & Life Safety Educator, Fire Inspector, Fire Investigator, Public Information Officer, Firefighter, Fire Officer, and Fire Services Instructor.

Kristy-Lynn grew up in the Fire Service. After completing co-op placements in Kawartha Lakes and Ottawa, she attended Camp FFIT, Ottawa (2015), where she learned about Fire Service Women Ontario and felt inspired to pursue her dreams. She became a Volunteer Firefighter with Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service in 2015 and began her full-time career in the Fire Service in 2017. In 2019, while working as an Inspector with Ajax Fire, Kristy-Lynn was recognized as an NFPA “Rising Star” for her efforts in risk reduction through Fire & Life Safety Education. In 2021, Kristy-Lynn began a contract with Canada’s National Indigenous Fire Safety Council, where she continues to work towards reducing the risk of fire in Indigenous communities.

In 2023, Kristy-Lynn is on maternity leave from Scugog Fire, after welcoming a baby girl into the world. Outside of the Fire Service, she enjoys spending time with family & friends and working on her backyard lavender farm.

Carissa Campbell

Carissa has 17 years of experience as a firefighter/hazmat technician with the Ottawa Fire Services and has recently accepted a promotion as a Fire Training Officer. Carissa’s career began in the fall of 2006. At her first station, downtown Ottawa, Carissa was a member of the first in crews involved in a devastating fire which turned out to be a pivotal event for OFS. As a rookie, new to the world of firefighting, Carissa will share her story and her lessons learned from that day. Carissa has since become an instructor for the FKTP Fire Dynamics program in an effort to better understand what happened that day, and to do her part to ensure that her fellow firefighters will hopefully never have to go through what she did.