Over 515 participants showed their heartfelt interest and commitment to integrating mental wellness and primary care by filling the Grand Ballroom to capacity at the Westin Bayshore for the First Nations Primary Care + Mental Health & Wellness Summit from May 22-24, 2019.
The 'Summit' was about weaving wholistic wellness into the health care system and discussions centered on team-based health care, with culture as an integral part. This gathering was the follow-up conference to last year's inaugural and popular First Nations Mental Health + Wellness Summit 2018.
The Summit highlighted that we are on the cusp of these new and exciting possibilities through the topics covered off by keynote speakers and panel discussions. Dr. Brenda M. Restoule, CEO, First Peoples Wellness Circle, talked about returning to traditional teachings for health and wellness.
"Trauma leads to invisible changes – it can change our brains, our physiology, and our biology," explained Dr. Restoule. "Culture is essential to wellness. Through storytelling, we share our feelings, heal wounds, deepen understanding, strengthen community and discover hope."
Dr. Daniele Behn Smith's keynote address focused on self-determination as the key to health and wellness. "We must fearlessly address the root causes of not being well, rejuvenate our Indigenous ways of knowing, and ground primary care transformation in these," said Dr. Behn Smith. "We need to look to two-eyed seeing models of care, such as functional medicine, that align with Indigenous approaches to wellness and support self-determination."
Interactive dialogue sessions in the afternoons were an opportunity to hear about activities and lessons learned from health practitioners and communities, share wise practices, and generate fruitful discussion through Q & A. There were eight dialogue sessions in all, covering topics ranging from integrating traditional wellness into primary care practices, supporting health journeys for our away-from-home population, returning to traditional teachings and many more.
FNHA Chief Operating Officer Richard Jock closed the gathering with his reflections. "This is a movement, this set of changes that we see starting to happen," he said. "Team-based care is a new and innovative way of looking at health. We will need to make these changes together and with our health partners."
FitNation, a physical activity program that walked attendees through movement breaks during the gathering, closed out the physical activities at the conference by enticing Grand Chief Doug Kelly and BC Health Minister Adrian Dix up on stage. The two leaders led the whole crowd in dancing 'The Twist', ending the event with laughter and fun.
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