Parliamentary Health Research Caucus: A Virtual Discussion with Dr. Christopher Mushquash
Aligning First Nations’ Values in Indigenous Mental Health, Substance Use,
Trauma and General Wellness: A Virtual Discussion with Dr. Christopher Mushquash
2023 Canada Gairdner Momentum Award Recipient
Special Virtual Discussion hosted by the Parliamentary Health Research Caucus, Research Canada, and the Gairdner Foundation.
DAY AT A GLANCE
- 10:30 am – 11:30 am: Virtual Discussion with Dr. Christopher Mushquash
- Welcome by Ms. Alison Evans, Research Canada’s President and CEO with Special Remarks from Dr. Tarik Möröy, Research Canada’s Chair.
- Join Dr. Brendan Hanley, MP Yukon and PHRC Chair and the Caucus Leadership , Dr. Stephen Ellis, MP (Cumberland-Colchester), Ms. Carol Hughes, MP (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing) and Hon. Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia, Senator (Newfoundland and Labrador) who will host a frank and inspiring discussion with Dr. Christopher Mushquash about his groundbreaking research in Indigenous mental health. Dr. Mushquash is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction, and Professor in the Department of Psychology at Lakehead University and the Division of Human Sciences at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University. He is also Vice President Research at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and Chief Scientist at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute.
Dr. Christopher Mushquash, PH.D., C.PSYCH
Professor, Department of Psychology, Lakehead University; Psychologist, Dilico Anishinabek Family Care; Vice President Research, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre; Chief Scientist, Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute
Awarded “For Indigenous-led mental health and substance use research that leads to culturally and contextually appropriate services for Indigenous children, adolescents, and adults.”
The Work: Dr. Christopher Mushquash brings together his clinical experience as a psychologist and his community-based participatory approach to research to meet community needs and improve systems and services that make a difference in people’s lives. His innovative work focuses on Indigenous mental health and substance use through evidence-based practices that align with First Nations values. This approach ensures his research and its outcomes are culturally and contextually appropriate for people in First Nations, as well as those in rural and northern communities. Through large team collaborations and partnerships with communities, government and academia, Dr. Mushquash addresses various aspects of mental health for Indigenous communities, such as mental health, substance use, trauma, and general mental wellness. The overarching goals of his research are rooted in the four interconnected directions and include identifying culturally and contextually appropriate targets of intervention, developing methods of measuring community outcomes; developing and testing of interventions that incorporate culture-based knowledge with scientific methods; and the sharing of knowledge among Indigenous and academic communities, clinicians, and policymakers. These themes come together to form a holistic framework to improve not only systems and services but also research involving Indigenous communities. By putting the communities at the forefront of his work, Dr. Mushquash demonstrates the importance of understanding unique contexts and issues experienced by individuals in Indigenous communities. He has effectively shifted the relationship between communities and researchers, enabling more meaningful and relevant research and advancing the understanding of mental health in Indigenous communities. Systems and services are thus better equipped to address the needs of Indigenous, rural and northern communities in a culturally- and contextually-appropriate manner.
The Impact: Dr. Mushquash champions culturally and contextually appropriate mental health and substance use services for Indigenous communities. His high-calibre work has improved the lives of many Indigenous communities and influenced national mental health and addiction understandings as he brings together western and Indigenous methodologies. His team conducted the first Canadian study of adverse childhood experiences in First Nations adults seeking residential treatment for substance use difficulties. The outcomes enhanced the understanding of the nature of developmental and intergenerational trauma in First Nations people and improved clinical care for those with substance use difficulties. His research has also upended conventional understandings of mental health in Indigenous families and established best practices for engaging Indigenous people in research. Furthermore, his research has directly influenced federal funding policy in remote First Nations communities. As a leader in his field, Dr. Mushquash has advanced mental health across Canada, garnering various awards, honours and appointments in recognition of his research and clinical expertise. His devotion to the profession and Indigenous mental health can be seen in the impact of his work in changing Canadian policy, educating professionals working with First Nations people, and, more importantly, bettering the quality of life and care of many Indigenous youth and communities.