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Laurence Kirmayer & Deanna Cook, Mental Health Promotion, Suicide Prevention & Strengthening Resilience among Indigenous Youth

Presenter: Laurence J. Kirmayer, and Deanna Cook

Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD, FRCPC, FCAHS, FRSC is James McGill Professor and Director, Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Co- director of the McGill Global Mental Health Program. He is Editor-in-Chief of Transcultural Psychiatry, and Director of the Culture & Mental Health Research Unit at the Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, where he conducts research on: culturally based, family centered mental health promotion for Indigenous youth; the use of cultural formulation in cultural consultation; and the place of culture in global mental health. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy of Social Sciences). He leads a CIHR Suicide Prevention Implementation Research Team and Suicide Prevention.

Deanna Cook has been the Executive Director of the Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn (Splatsin Teaching Centre) Society since 2002. The Tsm7aksaltn is known nationally for its innovative and proactive Splatsin language programs that are dedicated to documenting, preserving and teaching children and community. The Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn (Splatsin Teaching Centre) Society is a hub of community activities that evolve from the critically endangered Splatsin language (less than 1%) of fluent speakers left. The Tsm7aksaltn is a child care centre with programs for up to 64 children aged 0 to 12 years old. It is unique in the fact that the last of our fluent speakers also attend three days a week to assist with language efforts. Parents also participate in unique activities such as “Tuwitames” community play, annual Sunflower Picnics, etc. Deanna has also served as the Community Lead for the “Listening to One Another – To Get Strong Program” since its inception. The Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn staff took the manual and made it culturally relevant to the Splatsin language and culture with the help of their elders. The “Listening to One Another – Get Strong Program” was initially piloted through the Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn (Splatsin Teaching Centre) Society starting in 2012 for up to 15 youth a year aged 10 to 14 years old. The program has now been run three times with over 35 youth and their families involved who are all extremely happy with the program and the teachings shared. Many families would like to see a program like this continue. It has been one of the most successful parent/caregiver/child Family program to ever operate in our community. Moving forward, Cook will be overseeing the piloting of a new School Based Program that is a derivative of the Family Program. She will also oversee another Family program in BC as they gain their wings “To Get Strong”.

Keywords: Mental Health, Mental Illness, Suicide, Suicide Prevention, Resilience