Steering Committee

Dr. Laurence Kirmayer Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD, FRCPC, Project Leader, is James McGill Professor and Director, Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University. He is Editor-in-Chief of Transcultural Psychiatry, a quarterly scientific journal published by Sage (UK) and directs the Culture & Mental Health Research Unit of the Department of Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital in Montreal where he conducts research on mental health services for immigrants and refugees, psychiatry in primary care, the mental health of indigenous peoples, and the anthropology of psychiatry. He founded and directs the annual Summer Program and Advanced Study Institute in Cultural Psychiatry at McGill and co-directs the National Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research.

His past research includes funded studies on the development and evaluation of a cultural consultation service in mental health, pathways and barriers to mental health care for immigrants, somatization in primary care, cultural concepts of mental health and illness in Inuit communities, risk and protective factors for suicide among Inuit youth in Nunavik (Northern Québec), and resilience among Indigenous peoples. He co-edited the volumes, Current Concepts of Somatization (American Psychiatric Press), Understanding Trauma: Integrating Biological, Clinical, and Cultural Perspectives (Cambridge University Press), Healing Traditions: The Mental Health of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (University of British Columbia Press) and Encountering the Other: The Practice of Cultural Consultation (Springer SBM).


Julia Arndt is a policy and research analyst at the Mental Health Commission of Canada working on a range of projects from supportive housing, multicultural mental health and diversity, to peer support and understanding what youth want to know about mental health. Ms. Arndt is also a Ph.D. student at the University of Calgary. Her current academic interests focus on positive mental health. Beyond this, an important part of her career includes using research/evaluation as a mechanism to stimulate change in the broader context - where people live, work, are educated and healed. In healthcare her work entailed: facilitating 'mind, body, spirit' workshops in the community, strategic planning, creating plain language mental health educational materials, program management and evaluation for a provincial pilot project meant to improve children's mental health and coping skills in the elementary school setting.


Dr. Kenneth FungKenneth Fung, MD FRCPC MSc, is a Staff Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of the Asian Initiative in Mental Health Program at the Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network.  He is also Assistant Professor with Culture, Community, and Health Studies Program at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto.  He completed a two-year fellowship in Cultural Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and his Master thesis was on alexithymia among Chinese Canadians.  His primary research, teaching, and clinical interests include both cultural psychiatry and psychotherapy.  He is the Block Coordinator of the Cultural Psychiatry Core Seminars for psychiatry residents at the University of Toronto, and is the seminar coordinator and a psychotherapy supervisor in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at the University Health Network.  He is currently conducting a research study with Dr. Mateusz Zurowski on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for chronic pain patients.  He has also been conducting community-based research projects related to immigrant and refugee mental health.  He is psychiatric consultant to the Hong Fook Mental Health Association and is involved in various mental health promotion and education projects in the community.  He also offers consultations at Mon Sheong Scarborough Long-Term Care Centre.  He has been appointed as a member of Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council.  He is the Chairperson of the Federation of Chinese American and Chinese Canadian Medical Societies.


Dr. Soma GanesonSoma Ganesan, MD, is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and Medical Director of Psychiatry at Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre. He is a Psychiatry Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada. He was born in Vietnam, where he lived through the war and left his country in 1976. He came to Vancouver as a refugee in 1981 and trained at the University of British Columbia from 1984 to 1988. He has been a practicing psychiatrist in Canada since 1988. Dr. Ganesan is the founder and Director of the Vancouver General Hospital Cross Cultural Clinic, which provides mental health services to individuals from a broad array of cultural backgrounds, including refugees from around the world. He is also a founding member of VAST – the Vancouver Association for the Survivors of Torture. He is Director of Adult Mental Health Services for Vancouver Community Mental Health, and Physician Leader at Riverview Hospital. In addition to serving in a variety of capacities for local, provincial, national, and international programs, Dr. Ganesan’s own research focuses on immigrant mental health, cross-cultural psychiatry, and spirituality.


Dr. Jaswant GuzderJaswant Guzder, MD, Associate Professor of the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Head of Child Psychiatry and Director of Child Day Treatment at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH). Dr. Guzder is a board member of Transcultural Psychiatry and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, a Quebec representative to the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, a board member of Teesri Duniya Theatre Company and she was the former director of the JGH's Cultural Consultation Service. Dr. Guzder has considerable experience in the field of transcultural child psychiatry and has worked extensively with immigrants and refugees from different ethnocultural backgrounds. She has published various articles about trauma in children from different ethnic groups. She is invited by various national and international institutions to share her experience in transcultural psychiatry. In addition to her clinical and academic expertise, Dr. Guzder is a painter whose work has been used to illustrate Social & Cultural Psychiatry documents (JGH) and has been shown nationally and internationally.


Francine LemireFrancine Lemire, MD obtained her medical degree from McGill University and practiced in Corner Brook as a comprehensive family doctor following a straight internship in Internal Medicine at McGill and a family medicine residency at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She is currently Associate Executive Director, Professional Affairs, for the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CPA).

Prior to her current position with the College of Family Physicians of Canada, Dr. Lemire held the position of President of the and was Director of the Clinical Skills Assessment and Training program (CSAT) at the Memorial University of Newfoundland between 1997 and 2003. Dr. Lemire continues to work part-time as a clinician and is Assistant Professor for the Discipline of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.


Farah N. Mawani, MSc, PhDFarah N. Mawani, MSc, PhD (C), is a Senior Policy & Research Analyst with the Mental Health Strategy team of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Farah is leading development of the Diverse Needs and Strengths, Data, and Research/Knowledge Topic Areas for the second phase of development of Canada’s first national mental health strategy. She is also the Mental Health Strategy’s lead liaison with the Mental Health Commission’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis Advisory Committee. She has global research and teaching experience in social and cultural determinants of health. In addition to work in Kenya, Pakistan, India, China, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States, she has extensive Canadian policy research experience. She also gained invaluable insight in her role as Chair of the Board for Access Alliance Multicultural Health Services. Her primary areas of expertise are inequalities in mental health, social and cultural determinants of mental health, immigrant and refugee mental health, and community-based research. She is also committed to indigenous people’s health, inspired by community-based work with the Maasai in East Africa, her region of origin. She has pursued that interest in Canada in work with the National Forum on Health and the Public Health Agency of Canada.


Dr. Kwame McKenzieKwame McKenzie, MD, is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, a Senior Scientist in Social Equity and Health Research, and a Medical Director for Diversity and Deputy Director of the Schizophrenia Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Dr. McKenzie trained in medicine at the University of Southampton, England. His psychiatric training was principally at the Institute of Psychiatry at Maudsley, London, and included a year as a visiting scholar at Harvard University and two years developing the first description of community mental health services in Brussels, Belgium.

Dr. McKenzie’s research focuses on the science of improving mental health services. Key areas of interest include social determinants of health, society and mental health, social capital and mental health, redesigning mental health services for visible minority groups, efficacy of treatment in schizophrenia, psychiatric diagnosis, community engagement, racism, pathways to care, and suicide. He has also worked in applied policy research, including drafting the UK Department of Health’s policy for improving mental health services for minority ethnic groups and has worked with various organizations, including the Pan American Health Organization and the World Bank.


Dr. Sadeq RahimiSadeq Rahimi, M.Sc., Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan. He has recently completed a 4 year appointment as Research Fellow at the Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. He is trained in anthropological research and clinical work in Montreal, Canada, where he received a Ph.D. in Transcultural Psychiatry and Psychoanalytic Training in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy. He has worked as a clinician in Cultural Psychiatry at The Montreal Children’s and Jewish General hospitals, and as a psychotherapist at the Boston Institute for Psychotherapy. His main research interest has been the relationship between culture, identity and mental health, a line of inquiry that has evolved into his current work on subjectivity and politics on the one hand, and on policy and the political nature of mental health services on the other. Dr. Rahimi has conducted research and published on various dimensions of culture and mental health in Canada (Saskatchewan & Quebec), Turkey, Iran, and the United States, and his upcoming book is titled Subjects in History: Meaning, Madness, and Political Selves in Modern Turkey.


Cécile Rousseau, MD, is a research and clinical psychiatrist for the CSSS de la Montagne (CLSC Park Extension) Youth Mental Health Team. She received her training in medicine and psychiatry at the University of Sherbrooke, Université de Montréal, and McGill University. Her clinical work is with refugee children and with torture victims. She also does consultation work, for health institutions and school boards, on refugee children. Dr. Rousseau's current research involves refugee children and adolescents from Southeast Asia, Central America and Somalia.

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