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Local first responder using art as therapy creates portraits of fallen EPS officers

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A Spruce Grove first responder artist created a series of portraits in memory of the pair of Edmonton Police Service constables killed in the line of duty last week.

For the past year, Daniel Sundahl, a paramedic firefighter, has created an online memorial page complete with individual portraits for current and former first responders or military members worldwide who have died in the line of duty or because of service-related trauma.

Every day, he creates and releases one memorial portrait. Often they are requested by family, friends or co-workers.

On March 16, he created two portraits in honour of EPS officers Brett Ryan and Travis Jordan — a project that hit closer to home.

"Once I heard about what happened, I knew right away," Sundahl told CTV News Edmonton. "I needed to create these portraits."

"It's horrible. It's hard to describe. I was thinking, of course, of the two officers and their families," he added. "But then I was also thinking of the other emergency workers that were there that dealt with it, the hospital staff and everybody that's around an event like this."

Creating memorial portraits was part of his own healing journey, he explained. He doesn't charge for the artwork he creates.

"I started doing a lot of artwork for mental health as part of my own therapy," Sundahl said. "It's very therapeutic for myself."

Each portrait takes around an hour and a half to make, Sundahl says, using his digital pen to apply layers of drawing and painting to a photo.

Often he hears from families about how much having a portrait helps them to remember their lost loved one.

"I just hope it helps," Sundahl said. "This is kind of how I process it myself."

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