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Summary: Report 8

Widening the Circle: Collaborative Research for Mental Health Promotion in Native Communities

Preface and acknowledgement

This report presents the proceedings of a conference on developing partnerships for research on mental health and illness in Native communities. The conference took place September 26 to 28th, 1997 at the Institute of Community of Family Psychiatry of the Sir Mortimer B. Davis—Jewish General Hospital. Funding for the conference came from a grant from the Conseil québecois de la recherche sociale to the Native Mental Health Team. Co-sponsors were Waseskun House and the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal.

The purpose of the conference was to bring together university-based researchers and people working in First Nations and Inuit communities and organizations, to discuss and improve understanding of issues related to mental health and social services. It was hoped that this exchange would contribute to communities and organizations attaining the results they desire in terms of enhanced mental heath, fewer social problems and more effective services.

For various social problems or mental illnesses, the conference participants attempted to answer the following questions:

  • What kinds of programs are being delivered in Aboriginal communities to deal with the problem?
  • Has research shown that particular types of programs are more effective than others and if so, is this applicable among First Nations and Inuit?
  • How can research contribute to improving services or preventing mental health and social problems in Aboriginal populations?

The conference was organized by members of the Native Mental Health Research Team. The organizing committee consisted of Kathryn Gill, Laurence Kirmayer, Elizabeth Robinson, Caroline Oblin, Wayne Romansky and Jo-ann Stacey.

Marie-Anik Gagné coordinated the conference planning with great skill and energy. Staff of the Culture and Mental Health Research Unit worked with commitment and enthusiasm to make the conference go smoothly: Lucy Boothroyd, Consuelo Quesney, Suzanne Taillefer and Kay Berckmans.

We would like to thank all of the staff at the Department of Psychiatry of the Jewish General Hospital who assisted with preparations and arrangements, especially Louise Veillieux.

Rapporteurs at the conference enabled us to summarize some of the oral presentations for which no written text or tape was available; Greg Brass, Kaha:wi Joslyn Jacobs, Natalie Lloyd, Elizabeth Robinson, and Lara Stern ably performed this task.

Tapes of the conference were transcribed by Kay Berckmans and reviewed by the presenters. The text was copy-edited by Isabelle Fieschi, Marlene Caplan, Lucy Boothroyd, and Kathryn Gill.

We hope that the publication of these proceedings will contribute to the formation of partnerships between researchers and community-based practitioners, so that when it is appropriate to do research around a particular issue, the work will be done in a collaborative manner.

Montreal, September 1998

Native Mental Health Research Team

The Native Mental Health Research Team is a collaboration between workers at Native organizations and researchers from McGill University and other academic institutions to promote the development and evaluation of effective and culturally appropriate mental health programs for Native populations and communities in Quebec. The team is funded by the CQRS (Conseil québécois de la recherche sociale) under a special program as a partnership between practice and academic institutions. The principal co-investigators of the Native Mental Health Research Team are:

  • Laurence Kirmayer, Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University
  • Serge Déry, Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (since 1997)
  • Steve Hodgins, Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (1995-1997)
  • Kathryn Gill, Addictions Unit, Montreal General Hospital
  • Elizabeth Robinson, Public Health Module, Cree Region of James Bay
  • Liesel Urtnowski, School of Social Work, McGill University
  • Naomi Adelson, Department of Anthropology, York University, Toronto
  • Adrian Tanner, Department of Anthropology, Memorial University, Newfoundland

Other organizations collaborating with the Native Mental Health Research Team include:

  • Module du Nord Québécois
  • Native Friendship Centre of Montreal
  • Native Women's Shelter of Montreal
  • Maison Waseskun House
  • Centre de santé publique de la région de Québec
  • Department of Anthropology, St. Mary's University, Halifax