5:00pm – 6:00pm

Light Reception

6:00pm – 6:45pm

Keynote Speaker and Q&A

Canadian Wildfire Conference Appreciation Dinner
The Canadian Wildfire Conference Appreciation Dinner and SickNotWeak fundraiser will be held at the Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna, BC on October 25th. It’s been a formidable wildfire season, and this dinner is an avenue to show appreciation for all those on its frontlines and raise funds to benefit mental health awareness. The evening’s festivities will kick off with a welcoming cocktail reception at 5 pm, followed by a keynote presentation from a very well-known figure in Canadian sports broadcasting — Michael Landsberg — who is the founder of SickNotWeak.

Michael Landsberg
Michael has been a prominent face and voice on the Canadian sports scene since 1984. With his unique style, he quickly became one of this country’s most polarizing personalities- perceived by some as forthright and others as arrogant. In 2009 people began to agree more on Michael after he publicly shared his, then decade-long, struggle with severe depression and anxiety. Since then, he has become one of this country’s loudest voices- pushing for all Canadians to see mental illness as a sickness, not a weakness. Michael frequently used his platform as producer and host of Off the Record on TSN to change people’s opinion of mental illness.

Michael has been an official spokesperson for Bell Let’s Talk Day since that initiative was launched. In 2016 Michael launched his own initiative, a charity, called SickNotWeak. SickNotWeak is dedicated to changing the way Canadians see mental illness. SickNotWeak is dedicated to helping people understand that mental illness is a sickness, not a weakness. SickNotWeak, like Michael, approaches the conversation surrounding mental illness in a raw and candid way, mixed with a dash of Landsberg attitude and humor.

A plated dinner will follow at approximately 6:45 pm.

Transportation is not included in registration.

Sick Not Weak is a national charity in Canada founded to support all Canadians who live with mental illness, struggle with symptoms of mental illness, or have a loved one afflicted with a diagnosis or symptoms but not diagnosed. Our charity fulfills its mandate through community engagement, active partnerships with like-minded organizations in the public, private and voluntary sectors. Our primary goal is to eliminate the stigma still associated with mental illness through awareness campaigns, education, and advocacy.

We are excited about the future and look forward to bringing new programs and resources to support the community. We are hopeful people are empowered by our programs to help raise awareness and be empowered with confidence to engage in discussions, seek treatment and strive to live life to its fullest potential. It is through raising awareness and creating a movement of understanding and acceptance we will be successful.

6:45pm – 9:00pm

Appreciation Dinner

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All conference sessions take place at the KF Aerospace Centre of Excellence

All conference sessions take place at the KF Aerospace Centre of Excellence
6:30am – 7:30am

Exhibitor set up at KF Aerospace Centre of Excellence

7:30am – 8:00am

Registration and networking

8:00am – 8:15am

Welcoming remarks

8:15am – 9:30am

Air and ground interoperability panel

  • Michael Benson, Director of Business Development, Conair Group (former AAO)
  • Sean Rickards, Director of Operations, Yellowhead Helicopters
  • Greg Adams, Air Attack Officer, BC Wildfire Service
  • Tom DeSorcy, Fire Chief (Ret.)
Leaders from aerial and ground operations discuss wildfire suppression techniques, challenges and best practices

9:30am – 10:30am

Refreshment break and trade show

10:30am – 11:30am

Deploying resources for structure protection

Speaker: Larry Watkinson, ECFO, C.Mgr, Deputy Fire Chief

How air and ground can better manage resources to provide support when and where it’s needed most

11:30am – 1:00pm

Lunch, trade show and networking

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Innovation and advanced tactics for wildfire suppression panel

  • Wayne Coulson, Chief Executive Officer, Coulson Group
  • Thomas Hoppe, Owner, 43 Degrees North Aviation
  • Mike King, President and Chief Pilot, White Saddle Air Service
Leaders from ground and air discuss the significant changes in the wildfire fight, from advanced water systems and aircraft modifications to training and resource deployment


2:00pm – 3:30pm

Trade show

Product demonstrations, KF Centre Ramp
  1. Perimeter Solutions: 2:00 pm
    Ground applications of long-term fire retardants are THE answer when aerial resources are unavailable due to night time and visibility issues
  2. Safetek Profire: 2:15 pm
  3. Yellowhead Helicopters - Augmentations Causing Future Shock in Legacy Aircraft: 2:30 pm
  4. Commercial Emergency Equipment: 2:45 pm
  5. Coulson Aviation aircraft tour: 3:00pm
3:30pm – 4:00pm

Using IGNIS for Aerial Ignition

Speakers: Paul Fletcher and Hope Nelson, Drone Amplified

Closing remarks, trends, opportunities, and the future of Canadian wildfire suppression


Greg Adams
BC Wildfire

Greg Adams is an Air Attack Officer with the BC Wildfire Service.  Greg’s journey in wildfire started out as a summer job to pay for university in 1994 when he joined the Alberta Rappel Program.  It was only supposed to be for 4 years but after completing his Bachelor of Education, he realized that wildland firefighting was more his style and spent 18 years with Alberta Rappel.  Initial attack firefighting with a 7-person crew that could rappel from a medium helicopter was the best job in the world.  In 2014, the opportunity to become an Air Attack Officer in BC presented itself and Greg jumped in and found the other best job in world, coordinating the aerial attack on wildfires. Integrating land-based airtankers with skimmers and helicopters to support ground firefighting brings many challenges and many rewards.  Greg also functions as the Provincial Airtanker Coordination Officer, managing the airtanker responses to wildfires across British Columbia.

Larry Watkinson
Deputy Fire Chief for the City of Kelowna

Larry Watkinson is the Deputy Fire Chief for the City of Kelowna. Larry has held a Chief Officer rank in the fire service for over 20 years. Larry is also a Structure Branch for BC Wildfire Service and has been deployed to a number of large provincial wildfire events establishing complex Structure Protection and Defense operations. As a Fire Service Leader, he has earned professional designations of Professional Manager (P.Mgr), and Chartered Manager (C.Mgr) from the Canadian Institute of Management, and Executive Chief Fire Officer (ECFO) designation from the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs. Larry has receive recognition in developing advanced training for structure protection/defense operations, and creating the Provincial WUI conference for structural firefighters.

Michael Benson
Director of Business Development, Conair Group

Michael Benson joined Conair after a 30-year career in wildfire, most recently leading the wildfire operations research program at FPInnovations, a not-for-profit research and development organization based in Canada. Prior to FPInnovations, Michael led the airtanker program for British Columbia Wildfire Service, responding to wildfires spread over nearly 1 million sq kilometers with both amphibious water bombers and retardant airtankers. Michael’s hands-on experience in aerial firefighting, combined with his research in methods to protect forests and communities from wildfires, offers global agencies a wealth of support as they address the complex challenge of responding to escalating wildfire behaviour in the face of climate change.

Mike King
President and Chief Pilot, White Saddle Air Service

From its home base of Bluff Lake just south of Tatla Lake, White Saddle Air provides a range of helicopter services in the region, including its continual investment in fire suppression. White Saddle underlined its commitment to the sector by acquiring Canada’s first commercial Bell 407 GXi in 2019, which was followed by a second 407 GXi purchase a couple of years later. White Saddle also provides helicopter air charters to the Coast Mountain Range and Cariboo Chilcotin Plateau of British Columbia. The operation has been flying people in and around the Coast Mountains for the past 48 years. Located near the base of Mount Waddington, British Columbia’s highest peak, this remote region of BC offers the adventurer some of the richest wilderness grounds in the world.

Sean Rickards
Director of Operations, Yellowhead Helicopters Ltd.

Sean Rickards is a professional pilot with over 30 years of experience in the helicopter industry. He embarked on his career in the NWT and Western Canada, gaining invaluable experience in various regions and industries. In 2001, he joined Yellowhead Helicopters as the Vanderhoof Base Manager and, within a few years, earned the position of Regional Manager for Yellowhead Helicopters’ northern operations. In his role, he oversaw and managed the company’s helicopter services in the region, ensuring safe and efficient operations.

In 2014, Sean was appointed Director of Operations for Yellowhead Helicopters. While in this position, he played a pivotal role in guiding the company through a significant period of growth as the company expanded to over 40 aircraft. Having accumulated more than 10,000 flight hours, a significant portion of which was devoted to aerial firefighting, Sean has supported countless communities, industries, and projects across Western Canada. His extensive experience affords him a unique aerial perspective that enables him to comprehend the intricate dynamics of firefighting operations.

Thomas Hoppe
Owner, 43 Degrees North Aviation

Thomas Hoppe is a commercial pilot, Class IV Flight Instructor, Advanced RPAS Pilot and Transport Canada Advanced RPAS Flight Reviewer. He has been employed in the Geomatics industry since 1986 with international and unique positioning technology experience. He began his surveying career in Ontario and worked in several locations throughout North America, holding multiple roles from Professional Surveyor, Geomatics Business Development, Assistant Manager PART 702 Aerial Survey Operations, RPAS Pilot – Operations Manager, GNSS/RPAS Equipment Sales and GNSS/RPAS Technical Support, RPAS Ground School / Flight Instructor, Transport Canada Authorized Flight Reviewer (RPAS), Technical Trainer and National GNSS Training Manager.

His home base is in Lake Country, BC, near Kelowna, Thomas currently provides RPAS aerial surveys, contract RPAS pilot services, RPAS data processing and aerial survey support services throughout Canada. His vision for professional services is to integrate new technologies and procedures in aviation and surveying to supply clients with timely and cost-effective solutions.

Tom DeSorcy
Fire Chief (Ret.)

Tom DeSorcy joined the fire service in 1983 and became the first paid firefighter in his hometown of Hope, B.C., when he became fire chief in 2000, retiring in 2023.  DeSorcy is married with children and grandchildren. He is equally at home at a bonspiel, on the golf course, or in the kitchen, and continues to enjoy his connections to the fire service.  E-mail Tom at and watch for him on social media.

Wayne Coulson
Chief Executive Officer, Coulson Group

Wayne Coulson is the youngest son of Cliff Coulson who founded Coulson Forest Products Ltd. in 1960. Wayne began his career in 1978 in the Forestry and Wood Products business, before taking over the administrative side of the family business in late 1984.

Under Wayne’s leadership as President and CEO, the Coulson Group has evolved into a provider of a wide range of management, support and technical services through eight operational companies. Over the last 55 years, the Coulson Group has consistently provided clients and customers with quality services and products, highly qualified technical staff and innovative support solutions.

The Coulson Group of companies is led and managed by Wayne Coulson and his sons Foster and Britt. Since 2007, Wayne has been working alongside his two sons, Britt and Foster Coulson, developing proprietary technology making Coulson a leading company in the global fight against wildfires. He has been actively involved with research and development, as well as quality control, operation, and inspections of the company’s state-of-the-art equipment ensuring optimal functionality so and that it meets and exceeds all contractual requirements. His hands-on approach, along, with Britt and Foster, has proven to be a winning strategy accelerating Coulson Aviation to the forefront in the aerial firefighting industry.



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Kelowna, BC
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Four Points by Sheraton Kelowna Airport

5505 Airport Way
Kelowna, BC
V1V 3C3

Special Group rate starting from $159 CAD per night

Start Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2023

End Date: Thursday, October 26, 2023

Last Day to Book: Friday, October 6, 2023

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