A three-day summit focused on mental wellness drew more than 280 in-person and virtual attendees after getting underway Sept. 21.
The summit was co-hosted by the Council of Yukon First Nations and Yukon government and held at the Sternwheeler Hotel and Beringia Centre in Whitehorse. It is the second wellness summit held this year.
The focus was on integration and innovations in mental wellness and substance use support.
Over the course of the three day event delegates took in presentations on prevention, treatment, support services and harm reduction among other topics.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the first day of the summit, Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee described it as “a really optimistic day … and there’s more to come.”
While the first day featured a number of breakout sessions where delegates could choose between three presentations happening in different rooms, the second day featured a series of larger presentations on approaches to distress, strengthening connections with Indigenous people and the Oshkiniijig Leading the Way for Life Promotion. Final sessions focused on the justice system, the substance use emergency declared in the territory in January and community engagement sessions.
There were also two public evening sessions held at the Yukon Beringia Centre the evenings of Sept. 21 and 22. They were Oshkiniijig Leading the Way for Life Promotion and Mahi a Atua — A Journey Toward Freedom.
CYFN Grand Chief Peter Johnstone stressed the need to address the substance use emergency and mental wellness, noting he’s excited to see what comes out of the summit and build a plan.
“And hopefully at some point will this will only be a part of our history,” he said.
As both he and McPhee emphasized, it is through events like the summit that discussions start happening.
“We need these interactions, these opportunities to collaborate and to hear,” he said, going on to highlight a presentation he heard that day by Yvonne Jack and Chantelle Schultz about the importance of being on the land, especially at harvest time, for First Nations.
The Yukon government has said perspectives coming out of the summit will be used as a new opioid action plan is drafted. The plan is set to be released later this year.
Those seeking mental wellness and substance use support can visit www.yukon.ca/en/mental-wellness or call 867-456-3838 to connect with the clinical team. For opioid-use disorder support, Yukoners can contact Opioid Treatment Services at 867-668-2552. A referral is not needed to access services.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org