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, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Social Work Student, First Nations University of Canada & STR8UP, 10,000 Little Steps Inc.
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’. 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.