Guest Speakers

Dr. Michael Ungar
“Nurturing Resilience through a Strong Community”


Michael Ungar, Ph.D., is a Family Therapist and Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University where he holds the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Child, Family and Community Resilience. Since 2002, Dr. Ungar has directed the Resilience Research Centre, designing multisite longitudinal research and evaluation projects in more than a dozen low, middle, and high-income countries, with much of that work focused on the resilience of marginalized children and families, and adult populations experiencing mental health challenges. Dr. Ungar has published over 180 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on the subject of resilience and is the author of 15 books for mental health professionals, researchers and lay audiences. These include Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success, a book for adults experiencing stress at work and at home, The Social Ecology of Resilience: A Handbook for Theory and Practice for researchers, and Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs, a book for clinicians. His blog, Nurturing Resilience, can be read on Psychology Today’s website.



Dr. Caroline Tait and Devon Napope

“From the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: An examination of the twenty-year era from the lived experience of First Nations children and youth.”

Dr. Caroline Tait, PhD Co-Lead, First Peoples First Person, Canadian Depression Research and Intervention Network, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan

With the release of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples’ (RCAP) final report in 1996, came expectations for positive societal change. The Commission concluded that profound changes were required to repair the relationship between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The RCAP Commissioners believed that a conceptual shift driven by sincere commitment by governments, and hard work and perseverance by the entire country would bring about a renewed relationship between non-Indigenous Canadians and the First Peoples of the land. A focus on healing and wellness in Indigenous communities and Indigenous led practices for addressing inter-generational trauma, addictions, and mental illness were central to the path forward described by the Commission.

In 2017, our team produced a historical paper focused on Indigenous healing and wellness over the 20 years between the release of RCAP and the TRC ‘Calls to Action’. We conclude. that while RCAP led to positive initiatives like the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and National Aboriginal Health Organization, these and other RCAP related health initiatives have been largely dismantled and real change in the lives of many Indigenous peoples, particularly those most vulnerable, did not occur in the ways envisioned by the Commission.

Our presentation purposely privileges the lived experience of Mr. Napope, a First Nations activist who grew up during the time period between the release of the RCAP and the TRC ‘Calls to Action’.


Devon Napope, Social Work Student, First Nations University of Canada & STR8UP, 10,000 Little Steps Inc.

Using spoken word, Mr. Napope explores his childhood and youth involvement with the human service sector (health, social/child welfare, justice, education), and together with Dr. Tait, links his lived experience with the kinds of political and policy decision making that was occurring.

Through the strength of Mr. Napope’s voice, we consider the price paid by our most vulnerable and marginalized citizens for the failure of our governments to effectively respond and implement the recommendations in RCAP. Our aim is to draw attention to the vulnerability of the TRC ‘Calls to Action’ and the price that could be paid by future generations of Indigenous children and their families if our collective national commitment is threatened or weakens.

Jordin Tootoo

“Inclusivity Matters” – Giving back to communities in need with a message of resilience and teamwork—on and off the ice.

The first Inuk player in history to be drafted by the NHL, JORDIN TOOTOO announced his retirement after 13 years in the league to give back to the communities he knows and loves. Bringing a message of inspired inclusivity, Tootoo speaks to the need for real teamwork—at work and in our social communities. A trailblazer on and off the ice, Tootoo’s talks offer a moving and timely discussion of grit and resilience, goal-setting, overcoming adversity in the pursuit of excellence, and how life can be improved through meaningful stewardship.

Jordin Tootoo played for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League (WHL) from 1999 to 2003 before being chosen by the Nashville Predators in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He went on to play with the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks, banking 161 points, including 65 goals in 723 career games. Of Inuit and Ukrainian descent, Tootoo is not just the first Inuk player, but also the first one raised in Nunavut to play in the NHL. As an Indigenous athletic leader, Tootoo has long understood his responsibility as a role model, speaking openly about the need for mental health resources, and fighting the taboos around discussing mental illness. He is committed to reaching Canada’s Indigenous communities through his work with the Team Tootoo Foundation, founded in honour of his late brother Terence. He was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal for his work in Nunavut promoting healthy living and encouraging conversations about difficult topics like addiction and suicide.

“It’s part of Canada that a lot of people struggle with mental health and addiction, suicide, these issues are a national epidemic. I feel that, at this point in my life, it’s my calling to give back to a lot of these remote communities,” says Tootoo. Bestselling author of the memoir All The Way: My Life on Ice, Tootoo brings an uplifting message to his audiences, creating a culture of inspired inclusivity with authentic hockey and community stories.