Circumpolar Mental Wellness Symposium - Program

Background

On October 22, 2013, the Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) of the Arctic Council endorsed a project under the Sustainable Development Working Group to address mental wellness and resilience in circumpolar communities.

Co-led by Canada, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Norway, the Kingdom of Denmark, the United States, and the Russian Federation, this project will encompass a research program on interventions for mental health promotion. The goal is to build on existing and established projects with communities and researchers in the field to identify and share best practices in promoting resilience and well-being as a means of preventing suicide, with a particular focus on children and youth.

Through this initiative, researchers and community members will assess the outcomes of current and past research, programs and/or activities undertaken in circumpolar communities which promote resilience and well-being. This initiative will bring communities, researchers and policymakers together throughout the length of the project to ensure common understanding and potential application of evidence leading to positive mental health outcomes.  Evidence will be shared with Arctic Council Member States, Permanent Participant organizations, and Indigenous circumpolar communities regarding the type, effectiveness, scalability and cultural appropriateness of various interventions.

The overall initiative will enable researchers and communities to identify and share best practices. It is anticipated that this initiative will lead to:

  1. The identification of an inventory of promising interventions that reflect Indigenous practices, values, and reality, and are potentially applicable in other communities;
  2. An understanding of the key contextual factors, including but not limited to financial and human resources, that influence the appropriateness and impact of interventions;
  3. Enhanced awareness across member states and communities of the approaches being used to promote mental health in order to prevent suicide; and
  4. Engaged communities who have increased awareness of the ways that resilience and mental well-being can be promoted.

This initiative aligns with the priorities and recent activities of the Arctic Council and builds on previous Arctic Council work related to the promotion of health and wellness in the Arctic. The 2013 Kiruna Declaration, which sets out the work of the Arctic Council during the Canadian Chairmanship (2013-15), prioritizes improving economic and social conditions in the Arctic and signals the intention of Arctic Council Member States to "undertake further work to improve and develop mental wellness promotion strategies."

Symposium

One of the deliverables of the overall initiative is to host a symposium/conference to allow for knowledge translation and the sharing of evidence obtained by research teams and communities. The symposium will bring together researchers, policy makers, Indigenous communities, representatives of Permanent Participant organizations of the Arctic Council and representatives of member state governments. An important element of the symposium will be to involve Indigenous youth throughout the proceedings. In addition, a dedicated portion of the event will be focused on youth participation.

The symposium will take place in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. The event is being hosted by the Government of Nunavut, the Government of Canada and the Inuit Circumpolar Council in partnership with the other co-leads on the overall initiative: Norway, the Kingdom of Denmark, the United States, and the Russian Federation.

The goals of the Symposium are:

  • Goal 1: To provide a better understanding of mental health promotion in the Arctic and learn about specific interventions, their success and challenges;
  • Goal 2: To explore collaborative opportunities between researchers, policy makers, and community leaders towards a consensus on best practices; and,
  • Goal 3: To foster a collaborative approach to problem solving through the pooling of resources, efforts and sharing of research evidence and best practices towards sustainable, effective policy changes.

A symposium report will be developed following the event and will focus on five main themes:

  1. Best practices for resilience and mental well-being in Indigenous communities
    • What have been the major challenges of the interventions in promoting mental wellness and resilience within their community?
    • What were the success factors for the eight case studies?
    • What elements of the eight case studies are transferable to other communities?
  2. Promising interventions and success stories
    • What can be learned from the literature?
    • What are the success factors for interventions?
    • What are the commonalities between interventions?
    • How have the interventions helped to improve mental wellness and resilience (i.e., increased protective factors and reduced risk factors)?
  3. Youth engagement
    • What aspects of mental health promotion resonate most with youth (e.g. increasing resilience, coping skills, positive relationships, positive parenting)?
    • What are the tools available to ensure youth are fully engaged in finding solutions?
  4. Lessons learned
    • What are the conclusions of the two funded projects and what are their recommendations for moving forward?
    • What are the conclusions of the community leaders for future best practices?
    • What are the conclusions of youth representatives?
    • What are the key indicators that will help measure and evaluate resilience and mental well-being?
  5. The way forward
    • What would an action framework for making a significant impact in Arctic Council states entail?
    • What is needed to help ensure the appropriate scaling-up of interventions in other Indigenous communities?
    • How to ensure awareness across Arctic states and communities of the approaches being used to promote mental health?

Program

Day 1 - March 25, 2015

08:55

Masters of ceremony to open session

  • Elisapi Aningmiuq, Program Coordinator, Makigiarniq Project, Iqaluit Tukisigiarvik Centre
  • Michel Perron, Vice-President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

09:00

Traditional welcome by Leena Evic

09:10

Welcome and opening remarks

  • Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council
  • Paul Okalik, Minister of Health, Government of Nunavut
  • Duane Smith, President, Inuit Circumpolar Council – Canada, and Vice-Chair, Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)

09:30

Overview of Canada's Arctic Council Chairmanship and the work of the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)

  • Susan Harper, Director-General and Senior Arctic Official, Canada

09:50

Overview of mental wellness in the North

  • Laurence Kirmayer, James McGill Professor and Director, Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University

10:20

Video testimonial from Jordin Tootoo, NHL player from Nunavut

10:30

Networking break

10:45

Research findings, conclusions, and future perspectives: "RASP: Resilience and Suicide Prevention Project"

  • Eduardo Chachamovich, Researcher, Douglas Institute; Psychiatrist, Mood Disorders Program, Douglas Institute
    Followed by an open discussion

12:00

Networking lunch

13:30

Research findings, conclusions, and future perspectives: "Mental Well-Being and Suicide Prevention in Circumpolar Communities: Developing the Evidence Base and Identifying Promising Practices"

  • Susan Chatwood, Executive and Scientific Director, Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
  • Christina Viskum Lytken Larsen, Researcher at the National Institute of Public Health University of Southern Denmark; Policy Advisor for the Ministry of Health of Greenland
  • Gwen Healey, Executive and Scientific Director, Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre
  • Jon Petter Stoor, Researcher, Sámi National Centre on Mental Health and Substance Abuse (SANKS), Norway
  • John Stuart Jr., Inuvialuit Youth Wellness Coordinator, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
    Followed by an open discussion

14:45

Networking break

15:00

Research wrap-up session

Chaired by Alain Beaudet, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

  • Research team leads: Eduardo Chachamovich and Susan Chatwood
  • Frontline workers and research users:
    • Jenny Tierney, former Executive Director, Embrace Life Council
    • Patricia Wiebe, Medical Specialist in Mental Health, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada
    • Jon Petter Stoor, Psychologist, Sámi National Competence Centre, Norway

16:30

Conclusion of day 1

16:45

Adjournment

Day 2 - March 26, 2015

09:00

Masters of ceremony to open session

09:05

Remarks by Territorial Health Ministers

  • Paul Okalik, Minister of Health, Government of Nunavut
  • Glen Abernethy, Minister of Health and Social Services, Northwest Territories

09:20

Regional perspectives on mental wellness interventions in various settings (Part 1)

  • Minnie Grey, Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Health Committee, and Executive Director, Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, Nunavik
  • Per Jonas Partapuoli, Chairman of Sáminuorra, Saami Youth Association, Sweden
  • Gert Mulvad, Head of the Scientific Board, Greenland Center for Health Research, Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Greenland Health Committee Member

10:05

Networking break

10:20

Regional perspectives on mental wellness interventions in various settings (Part 2)

  • Ethel Blake, Board Member, Gwich'in Council International
  • Bob Van Djiken, IPY Northern Coordinator, Council of Yukon First Nations/ Arctic Athabaskan Council
    Followed by an open discussion

11:30

Video Testimonials

  • Jon Petter Stoor, Psychologist, Sámi National Competence Centre, Norway

12:00

Networking lunch

13:30

Panel: Making policy relevant to the needs and priorities of communities

Panelists:      

  • Lynn Ryan Mackenzie, Executive Director, Mental Health and Addictions, Government of Nunavut
  • Solfrid Johansen, Senior Advisor, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norway
  • Christina Larsen, Advisor in mental health for the Ministry of Health, Greenland
  • Allison Crawford, Program Director, Northern Psychiatric Outreach Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; Assistant Professor | Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

15:00

Networking break

15:15

Testimonial by Aviaq Johnston, Winner of the Governor General’s History Award (Tarnikuluk)

15:30

Review of Day 2

  • Kimberly Elmslie, Assistant Deputy Minister, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention,  Public Health Agency of Canada

15:45

Conclusion of Day 2

Day 3 - March 27, 2015

08:30

Masters of ceremony to open session

08:35

Report from the Youth Forum

08:45

Panel: Youth perspectives on communities’ engagement, cultural values, and importance of self-awareness

Panelists:      

  • Aili Liimakka Laue, Member, Board of the National Inuit Youth Council Greenland
  • Thomas Anguti Johnston, President, National Inuit Youth Council
  • Kluane Adamek, Liaison Officer and Advisor, Assembly of First Nations
  • John Stuart, Inuvialuit Youth Wellness Coordinator, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation

10:15

Networking break

10:30

Presentation on USA Chairmanship and the Rising Sun Proposal

  • Pamela Collins, Director, Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health

10:50

The way forward – open discussion

  • Chaired by Alain Beaudet, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

11:40

Wrap-up and next steps

  • Jutta Wark, Chair, Sustainable Development Working Group
  • Youth Remarks

11:50

Closing remarks

  • Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council

12:00

Adjournment

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