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Breakout Sessions

1. Resistance and Resilience

Panel Presentation: Trauma Resistance and Resilience

The recent displacement and forced migration of millions of peoples has raised attention about the long lasting physical and psychological impact of trauma faced by immigrants and refugees. While immigrants are able to plan their migration trajectories, refugees are forced to leave behind their communities to flee violence, war, and other forms of human rights violation. However, regardless of their lived experiences and the level of exposure to pre-migratory trauma, both immigrants and refugees strive to move on with their lives and celebrate their survival and resistance in the host country. In light of this, while immigrants and refugees show little interest in re-living their past trauma, many practitioners undermine their resiliency by pathologizing them as “traumatized” individuals. Studies show new immigrants have a better health in comparison to mainstream Canadians; however, their social determinants of health declines as they stay longer in Canada. This reality challenges our notion of trauma from pathology to the process of racialization and marginalization engrained in the fabric of our society and everyday practices.

Trauma-Informed Care for Refugees

Mbalu Lumor, Manager of Community Engagement, Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture
Refugees have endured pre-migration traumas in their countries of origin, such as war, torture, and genocide, and are exposed to migration traumas in their process of fleeing violence and persecution, and seeking safety in a new country. In addition, refugees endure various intersecting post-migration forms of marginalization, based on race, immigration status, language, income, sexuality, gender, etc, which presents increased barriers to navigating the re-settlement process. This presentation will discuss the types of pre-migration, migration, and post-migration traumas that refugees experience, and the impact of trauma on the mental health and settlement of individuals, families, and communities. Discussions around resilience, cultural sensitivity, and assessing mental health of refugees will be explored. The presentation will also explore how to best support refugee’s mental health and settlement, by adopting a trauma-informed, holistic, and anti-oppressive approach.

Refugee Integration in Canada and Pre-migration Experiences

Dr. Michaela Hynie, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Associate Director, York Institute for Health Reasearch, York University

Refugees face many of the same challenges as other newcomers to Canada but also have some distinct experiences. By definition, they are forced to leave their homes rather than choosing to migrate, and they are forced to leave because of discrimination, violence and exclusion. These experiences are extreme and challenging and can be associated with negative mental health outcomes. As a result, when we work with refugees we often the focus of our attention on trauma. But the majority of refugees do not report mental health issues, and the emphasis on past trauma, rather than current challenges of integration, can both pathologize newcomers, and miss the more widespread issues that many refugees face in integrating to Canada that are also a product of their migration and pre-migration experiences. In this talk I will review some of the common experiences associated in the pre-migration and migration experiences of refugees, with an emphasis on what we know about the conditions faced by Syrian refugees, and the implications of these experiences for integration for this group of newcomers to Canada.

The Inheritance of Trauma: South Asian Mental Health and Illness

Farah Islam, Project Lead, Danforth Bangladeshi Newcomer Mental Health Navigation Map

This talk will examine migration, culture, ethnicity, and race as social determinants of mental health. Symposium attendees will be called on to engage in a spirited discussion about mental health and illness for South Asian populations (the largest racialized population living in Canada). Dr. Islam will cover two projects she worked on: one examining the attitudes towards seeking mental health services amongst Bangladeshi diaspora populations living in East Danforth and a second project looking at the mental health concerns and service access issues of South Asian youth living in Peel Region (Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon).

2. Compassion Fatigue – “Not if, but when….”

Alison Peck, Executive Director, Cedar Centre
Kerrie Kortis, Clinical Director, Cedar Centre

What is changing?  Our work, or the way we are asked to approach our work? Limited time, resources, the stress and complexity of supporting and caring for vulnerable persons – that’s not new, but increasingly we’re being asked to reflect on the impact of this work on ourselves and others.  We know what happens to front line responders who are exposed to dangerous situations without proper equipment and preparation. What is the equivalent in our work?  How do we resource ourselves and our workplaces in order to prevent psychological injury?
Participants will learn the difference between compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction, workplace burnout and secondary traumatization. We’ll review the compassion fatigue trajectory and introduce a number of practical strategies and tools to assist helping professionals to monitor and mitigate the effects of stress on their compassionate care of self and others.

3. Trauma Informed Practice

Moving toward trauma Informed practices in substance use and mental health services and systems.

Dr. Lorraine Greaves, Principal, Galvanizing Equity Group Inc.
Dr. Nancy Poole, Director, British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women's Health

This session will evoke provocative thinking on gender, trauma, equity and change supporting progressive changes in perspective, practice and policy. Substance use and mental health service providers are increasingly challenged to recognize and attend to the experiences of trauma among service users. This has prompted a major paradigm shift in response, to becoming trauma-informed. Trauma informed practice is beneficial for all, whether trauma disclosure has occurred or not, for clients as well as service providers. The application of trauma-informed principles in systems of care is complex, requiring a wide range of adjustments in practice and system design, supported by research, innovation and strong leadership.  Drs. Greaves and Poole have worked with services and systems of care across Canada and Australia in applying trauma informed principles and practices in concert with gender-transformative approaches.  They will draw on their recent books: Becoming Trauma-Informed (CAMH, 2012); Trauma Informed Practice Guide (BC Ministry of Health, 2013); Making It Better: Gender Transformative Health Promotion (CSPI, 2014); and Transforming Addiction: Gender, trauma and transdisciplinarity (Routledge, 2015).