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2011 Annual Public Health Days

Aboriginal mental health is a matter of great concern in Quebec, Canada and around the world. The situation is particularly worrisome since mental health problems are not only likely to affect individual physical health, well-being and development, but they also weaken community cohesiveness and development.

Several members of the Qualaxia Network took part in organizing a day entirely dedicated to the theme Mental health in Aboriginal communities: Openness to change. On December 1, 2011, workshops and conferences focusing on this topic will take place during the Annual Public Health Days (JASP).

This day of discussion and reflection aims to help us better understand mental health problems among Aboriginals in Quebec, establish links with the organization of care and recognize emerging and promising approaches that rely on community mobilization.

This event is for stakeholders from different levels of intervention in public health who are involved in Aboriginal issues, as well as Aboriginal organizations.



The day was a success

Under the theme of Openness to Change, about 100 Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals interested or working in Aboriginal communities have travelled the longest road together, which, according to Mohawk elder John Cree, is from the head to the heart.

Moving beyond statistics painting communities in a negative light, presenters addressed the stripping of culture, spirituality, land, and identity as underlying causes of mental health issues afflicting many Aboriginal communities today.

Guided by Aboriginal knowledge, this event highlighted promising strategies implemented in several communities throughout Quebec and other regions. Keeping the complexity of the topic and immensity of the challenge in mind, these strategies have the presenters' unanimous approval: recognizing that Aboriginals are the experts on their own experience, intersectoral collaboration, focusing on strengths, promoting empowerment, and connecting (or reconnecting) Aboriginal youth to their history, i.e. their Aboriginal identity. These efforts provide hope for a mentally healthy future.

At the end of the day, it was clear that Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals must "walk the talk", to support and inspire our youth. As stated by Camil Bouchard, who was providing feedback on the conference, "the day was a success".

  Journées annuelles de la santé publique 2011

Journées annuelles de la santé publique 2011