Meet Our Team
Our members frequently tell us that our staff go above and beyond to care for them and we witness this every day. This is the most important attribute that we have for staff. They are all professional and do their best, but it’s the little things that they do for our members that make the difference.
Between Aurora Recovery Centre (ARC) and ARC Counselling, we currently have more than 80 staff who spend about 10 hours a day with our members. We strive to have the best care, programs and outcomes, and it takes the best people to do so. We are grateful for each member and staff.
Below are some of our staff members for you to meet.
Founder and Chairman
For over 40 years of his career, Paul Melnuk has led and directed many public and private companies in a variety of industries.
Melnuk is deeply passionate about recovery and assists people suffering from addictions or mental illnesses and their families to experience the sacred gift of recovery.
Based on research, Melnuk believes that addiction and co-occurring mental health issues must be integrated, and treated with the most advanced and effective methods, concurrently for the best outcomes.
As Founder, Chairman, CEO and owner of Aurora Recovery Centre (ARC), Paul is committed to maintaining ARC as a world-class treatment centre with a caring member-centered culture with a dedicated team that provides effective practices and techniques.
Chief Operating Officer
Since the late 80’s, Steve Low has clinically supported thousands of people with substance use and process disorders.
Steve has worked in every level of treatment from support staff to counselling supervisor to director over the course of his career, and has served as Clinical Director for two of Canada’s leading private residential treatment centres.
With his strong and collaborative leadership style, Steve has supervised and mentored clinicians and clinical teams, designed and implemented clinical programming from administrative functions through to delivering excellent treatment programs.
Steve’s experience is vast and spans across multiple and overlapping fields within the counselling realm. His resume highlights his early and continuous growth starting with his being named the youngest coordinator in the history of the ARS/Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) system.
Director of Business Development & Public Relations Officer Interventionist / Addictions Specialist
Ian Rabb is a certified interventionist and has been active in the recovery community for decades, helping hundreds of people find help and treatment for addictions.
Rabb, who had the vision for ARC well before the centre opened in 2016, was honored with the title of “A Manitoba Hero” for his service work with people living in Manitoba. He is also the head of Two Ten Recovery, which is a sober living organization.
He also served on:
- The board of directors of the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba
- The board for End Homelessness Winnipeg
- The community advisory board for The Homelessness Partnering Strategy and on the Homelessness Task Force in 2014
He continues to speak internationally on addiction issues as well and is an addictions expert for numerous media outlets.
Other accomplishments include:
- Nominated as a finalist for the Scotiabank Game Changers, an award celebrating local heroes
- In 2012, he was awarded the Queens Diamond Jubilee medal
- Was the chair of a forum for Voices
- In 2005, he was a part of the the Provincial Meth Task Force
- He also is on the board of:
- Jewish Child and Family Services
- The Children’s Hospital Foundation
- Health Science Centre Foundation
Nurse Manager, Detox Management Unit
Intake/Member Care Administrator
Tara Kirton has more than five years experience as an executive administrator and helped opened several treatment centres in Ontario. She is dedicated to ensuring that all members at ARC have a comfortable, safe and positive stay. Kirton also coordinates the transportation, to and from evening AA or NA meetings, airports, and medical appointments for our members. She also oversees the duties of our member care specialist. The member comes first to Kirton and if any member has an issue, she directs them to the appropriate team member.
Shirley Finnbogason was born and raised in Gimli, lived in the Interlake area before starting a family and moving to Thompson for eight years. She has also lived in southern Manitoba, but with the Interlake area always calling her home, she returned to Gimli in 2016.
Shirley’s background is in accounting and human resources, receiving her degree in business administration and accounting from Red River College. She brings with her over 20 years of managerial experience, having worked in retail and the hospitality industry. Shirley is dedicated to providing members and employees with a high standard of professionalism.
Tracy brings over 20 years of experience empowering high-level leadership in diverse work environments to her role at Aurora Recovery Centre. Previous work coordinating executive communications, human resources direction and financial management include IISD, Palliser Furniture, Investors Group, Steinbach Credit Union and Parker Vansco.
Tracy started out in the Interlake until her family moved into Winnipeg. She and her husband moved back to the Interlake in 2012 making the Gimli area their home. Tracy is passionate about the beauty and peace this town brings and what it brings to our members.
Marketing & Sales Director
Barret brings a unique marketing skill set having experience in varied types of industries including B2C, B2B and B2G. A self-described holistic marketer, he exemplifies an entrepreneurial spirit in every role.
Being half Icelandic, Barret spent a large part of his upbringing in the interlake area, including Gimli, Riverton, and Arborg. He has fond memories of never catching a fish in the Icelandic River, as well as getting chased by herds of cattle on his Amma’s farm.
What brought Barret to Aurora was the chance to make a difference in the lives of people and those around them who are struggling with addictions.
Dr. Derrek Jensen BSc, BSc (Med), MD, CCFP
Dr. Derrek Jensen is an integral role at ARC who is also the medical director of an organization providing medical care to home bound patients dealing with various medical issues which can include addictions and withdrawal management. He also provides care to post-overdose, stroke, and brain injury.
Jensen currently works at a clinic providing opiate replacement treatment as well. He is a recipient of the Governor General’s Bronze Medal Award and maintains membership with The College of Family Physicians of Manitoba, Doctors Manitoba College of Family Physicians of Canada, and The Canadian Medical Association.
He received his bachelor of science with distinction in chemistry and microbiology at the University of Manitoba. He then obtained his bachelor of science (medicine), doctor of medicine, and post graduate of medical education in family medicine.
Patty Medd has more than 10 years of experience working in addiction medicine. She has over 25 years of healthcare experience, in both family practice and mental health. Medd’s work with addiction medicine includes providing care in a residential treatment centre for those diagnosed with substance use disorder.
She has also provided medical assessments, primary care and withdrawal management, ongoing assessment, management and treatment of co-occurring disorders. Medd also taught and researched the best practices in addiction medicine and worked in northern Manitoba. She received her bachelor of arts with honours and masters of nursing from the University of Manitoba.
She is dedicated and committed to those members with addiction and related mental health issues on their journey in recovery.
Tamara Sawatzky has 15 years of healthcare experience, graduating from the Brandon University in 2009. She pursued a nursing career in critical care, and has more than six years of experience in the area. In 2012, Sawatzky entered the master of nursing program at the University of Manitoba, graduating in 2014 as a nurse practitioner.
She had two years experience in family practice and addiction medicine.
At ARC, she focuses on providing health promotion, medical assessments, and management of both substance use disorder and co-occurring illnesses. Sawatzky is passionate about best practices in addiction medicine and takes a member-centered approach to help everyone throughout their recovery journey at ARC.
Jennifer Hearn graduated in 2015 from the University of Manitoba with a bachelor of social work degree. She has experience working with people of diverse backgrounds, spirituality, and culture. Hearn focuses on acquiring the key skills needed to provide comprehensive individualized care that supports and serves her clients’ needs and desires to maintain an independent and sober lifestyle.
Her personal interest in counselling primarily developed from having family and friends who are in recovery from addictions and experience co-occurring mental health concerns. These situations allowed her to understand first-hand the challenges people face in initiating and maintaining a steady, secure life while fighting the stereotypes and stigmas about people with addictions who are trying to access needed supports.
Hearn also knows first hand the challenges that can often be faced with family members and support persons who are standing by their loved ones in these situations. This led Hearn to receive training to guide her in interactions with people experiencing suicidal thoughts or intentions while on the road to recovery.
Transitional Care Counsellor
Kevin Koroscil (Nii Gaani Inini -Leading Man) started his career working in group homes for young people and obtained his youth care certificate through night school. He continued working with youth as a foster parent for 15 years, and sat on the board of directors for the Manitoba Foster Family Network during that time. When he finished his time fostering children, he became the coordinator for Aboriginal Services at Selkirk Mental Health Centre. He was part of a team of professionals who helped provide services to all First Nation, Metis, and Inuit members at the Selkirk centre.
After three years, he was a key part of the program called Exit Up with Siloam Mission. This program provided service to First Nation, Metis and Inuit people between the ages of 18 and 25 who grew up in the Child and Family Services (CFS) and needed housing. The program provided life skills, support for appointments, traditional cultural teachings and ceremonies like sweat lodges, Sundance, moon lodges, and pipe ceremonies.
Koroscil is a pipe carrier, sweat Lodge conductor, Sundance leader, husband, father, grandfather, son, uncle, nephew, and cousin. He presently sits on the board of directors for Thunderbird House.
Sandy Sandulak was a case manager for Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Inc. (Ma Mawi), a mental health worker for Southern Health, a program coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Society and as an adult mentor for Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad Inc. (Ndinawe).
Addiction treatment and mental health treatment have been her specialty for over a decade. Sandulak trained in applied counselling at Red River College where she obtained certification in nonviolent crisis intervention (NVCI), ASSIST, mental health, first aid and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Her skills also include group facilitation. Sandulak is committed to helping others achieve the joy of recovery. She also has a passion for helping children in foster care. In her spare time, she enjoys working on her parent’s farm, gardening, and reading.
Since graduating from the University of Winnipeg in 2014, Amanda Chalmers has been involved in the social services field primarily in Winnipeg’s core area. Chalmers is an active volunteer as a counselor at Women’s Health Clinic. She also lends her time to teach people about anxiety in the Addiction’s Unit at the Health Sciences Centre.
Chalmers believes in the bio-psycho-social-spiritual model of wellness for those in ARC’s care. In her spare time, she practices hot yoga and spends time with her four pets.
Veronica Dunn is a natural helper by nature. As a registered social worker, she works with diverse and beautiful groups of people in a strength-based, solution focused way.
Dunn also has training that includes Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) motivational interventions, brief therapy, wrap around, mindfulness, CBT, photo-voice, psycho-dynamic therapy, etc.
She received her Undergraduate and Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Manitoba. Dunn has worked for years with children, youth, adults and families to promote their own expertise and healing journey. She established a private practice working with youth who were a part of the Child Welfare System. As a helper, she passionately participates in various community Indigenous ceremonies, prayers/smudging, sweat lodges and Sundance.
Dunn is a non-judgmental, kind and compassionate person, who believes in a holistic approach which supports folks in all four aspects of human health and well-being: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual.
Dr. Adrian Hynes
Dr. Adrian Hynes is a psychiatrist specializing in co-occurring disorders. He was born, raised, and received his medical training in Ireland then trained as a family doctor in England. After moving to Canada in 1980, Hynes practiced and taught family medicine in Manitoba until 1992, when he began training in psychiatry and addictions in Winnipeg and Minneapolis.
He practiced co-occurring disorders and methadone maintenance in Thunder Bay from June 1996 until September 2003, when he moved to London, Ontario to become the physician leader of the Concurrent Disorders Program. Hynes returned to Winnipeg in July 2005 and is now based at the Health Sciences Centre. His official titles are Psychiatric Consultant in Co-Occurring Disorders to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, and Medical Director, Co-Occurring Disorders, Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg.
Family Program Director
Bio coming soon.
Certified Addictions and Mental Health Professional
Geri Laurence is a compassionate and experienced counselor, who works with individuals and groups using a progressive framework to support building safe environments, exploring trauma and ensuring safety for those experiencing substance use in their lives or that of their family.
- Certified Addictions and Mental Health Professional (CAMP)
- Graduate of the Boulder Colorado Institute of Traumatic Studies (3-4 yrs. program)
- Completed Complex Trauma Program by Dr Janine Fisher a Internationally renowned
psychologist/teacher/educator from the Boston Trauma Institute
She provides education to clients and staff on best practices for trauma informed and patient centered care. Geri has also supported first nation’s traditions and ceremonial practices within this setting.
Geri is presently studying compassionate inquiry a yearlong internship with Dr. Gabor Mate, who is one of the world’s leading addiction medicine physicians and experts in the field of addiction.
She has stated her greatest strength is having lived experience within family systems and being able to hold space for those to explore their own strengths.
Admissions Team / Interventionists
Samantha Reis, a personal support graduate from Algonquin College, has 10 years of work experience in healthcare field. She worked in dementia and palliative care in a long-term care home for six years. Since 2015, Reis focused her work on the addictions field. She has always been drawn to the mental health and addictions aspect of health care, as she has personal and family history of addictions.
Reis joined ARC’s team in February 2017 bringing personal, administrative, and management experience that allows her to work successfully and compassionately as the Continuing Care advocate until early 2019. She has moved into her new role as an Admissions Team Member at Aurora Recovery Centre.
Addiction Specialist – Interventionist, R.P.C.
Continuing Care Advocate
Tim began his residential addiction treatment career in 2003, working in accredited centres in British Columbia and Ontario. He is a Canadian certified addictions counsellor. Tim attained his addiction counselling certificate at Vancouver Community College, followed by multiple certificate programs at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. He has experience in numerous aspects of residential treatment, from detoxification to alumni support. His particular passion is supporting people post-treatment as they initiate recovery lifestyles. Tim experiences serenity while pursuing outdoor activities such as cross-country skiing and bird-watching.
Kinesiologist & Trainer
Eddie Miller has over 20 years of national award-winning experience in the dance, fitness, martial arts and entertainment industries. With a degree in kinesiology and being a master fitness trainer, Miller has educated and certified over 200 fitness professionals throughout his career.
As an instructor, he has taught over 13,000 participants in classes such as AcroYoga, dance, gymnastics, martial arts, meditation, Pilates, yoga and zumba. As a professional performing artist, he has danced and did stunt work for film and theatre, including dancing for Jennifer Lopez’s Shall we Dance?. He also and directed a touring production company throughout western Canada. Miller also holds black belts in both Kung Fu & Arnis-Kali, winning a silver medal at the WSB World Championships in knife sparring.