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Earlier this month, the 2023 Gathering on Indigeneity, Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Mental Health in Ontario brought Indigenous community members, including those with lived experience of neurodevelopmental disabilities and mental health concerns, together with researchers and clinicians to share knowledge and form connections.
The two-day event was funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Planning and Dissemination Grant awarded to Associate Professor of Applied Disability Studies Kendra Thomson and principle knowledge user Louis Busch of Shkaabe Makwa at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), who co-organized the event with the support of research assistants Melanie Burgess and Sarah Bernier and Brock’s Knowledge Mobilization Officer, Jayne Morrish.
Busch, a Community Support Specialist, says maintaining a community focus and relying on community members to lead conversations throughout the event’s panels, presentations and circles helped “strengthen relationships and establish a new network of collaborators.”
“This gathering is just the beginning, we hope, of something that will lead to tangible action in the near future,” says Busch. “Indigenous communities have been subjected to research for the sake of research for many years, and I think what we heard loud and clear was that this needs to lead to something of substance that will positively impact families and individuals living with neurodevelopmental differences.”