Our Group: 

International Chair – Rose LeMay (formerly Sones), Canada

From Taku River Tlingit First Nation in northern British Columbia, Rose brings 20 years of experience in Indigenous health and health systems.  Her specialization in cultural competence and capacity started in the field of early childhood education and continued through her work in mental health and health systems development. Based on her experience of facilitating group learning on the topic of reconciliation across Canada in more than 95 sessions with thousands of participants, Rose brings a strong sense of hope for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and for Canada.  She is an alumnus of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference and a Certified First Nations Health Manager.

Rose is the founding international chair of the Wharerātā Group, an international network of Indigenous leaders and their allies working in mental health and addictions.  Based on the Wharerātā Declaration on cultural competence in mental health, Wharerātā leaders build their own skills in influence and communication to improve mental health systems for Indigenous consumers and clients.  The Wharerātā Group is a partner of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership.

Bi’di is Crow Clan, and is honoured to have learned from Elders from across Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the US.

Honorary Elder and Patron – Sir Mason Durie

Sir Mason Durie is an exceptional academic and a highly-regarded leader in public and indigenous health, wellbeing and education. He has worked tirelessly to improve the outcomes and futures of Maori and he continues to dedicate his life to making a better New Zealand for all of its people.

The model he created for healthcare, Te Whare Tapa Wha, successfully challenged the notion that health is the same for people of all cultures. He has also made significant strides with his work in mental health, and most recently, the prevention of suicide in Maori and Pasifika communities. In 2010, he was appointed as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Maori health and public health services in particular.

Country Representatives:

Australia 

Denise Andrews, Queensland Mental Health Commission in Brisbane

Denise is a Gamilaroi woman and has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for over 35 years. She has had experience in senior management roles, since 1993 in NSW government, Telstra and within community organizations. Throughout her career, Ms. Andrews has advocated for empowerment and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through social policy reforms and in practice in employment, education, arts, land rights, health and wellbeing, child protection, violence and harm, policing and justice. Currently, Ms. Andrews is the Principal Policy Advisor Queensland Mental Health Commission and her primary focus is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing. Ms Andrews’ academic standing includes a Masters of Arts, Indigenous Social Policy; Graduate Certificate in Policy Analysis; a Bachelor of Education, Adult Education and an Associate Diploma Business, Accountancy.

Thomas (Tom) Brideson, New South Wales Mental Health Commission in Gladesville

Tom Brideson is a Kamilaroi/Gomeroi man from north-west NSW. Tom is passionate about improving health outcomes and mental health career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and has been actively involved in these areas over the past 2.5 decades. Over this time he has been active in mental health and health policy; social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB); clinical mental health care; suicide prevention; education and mental health leadership.

Since 2007, Tom has been the State-wide Coordinator for the NSW Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce Program. He has published articles regarding the Aboriginal mental health workforce and advocates for the broad emerging professional workforces to ensure meaningful career pathways across all health and human services.

Dr. Helen Milroy, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Helen Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara Region of Western Australia but was born and educated in Perth. In February 2013, Helen was appointed as a Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Commission completed its work in December 2017. Prior to that appointment, she worked as Winthrop Professor and Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health at the University of Western Australia; and a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with the Specialist Aboriginal Mental Health Service, Department of Health, situated at Graylands Hospital, Perth. She was the Australian Lead Investigator on the Tri-Nations NHMRC International Collaborative Grant “Educating for Equity” exploring how Health professional education can reduce disparities in chronic disease.

She studied Medicine at the University of Western Australia, worked as a General Practitioner and Consultant in Childhood Sexual Abuse at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children for several years before completing specialist training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She was a conjoint award recipient of the World Council for Psychotherapy’s Sigmund Freud Award 2011 for contributions to the field of psychotherapy. She was also 2011 Yachad Scholar. She served as a ‘headspace’ Board Director; a member of the Western Australian Indigenous Implementation Board; and past President of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA).

Canada

Lori Lafontaine, Mental Health Commission of Canada in Ottawa

Lori Lafontaine is a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation. She is a  Senior Advisor, Indigenous Affairs, Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Renee Linklater, Centre for Addictions and Mental Health in Toronto

Renee Linklater, PhD, is a member of Rainy River First Nations in Northwestern Ontario. She is currently the Director of Aboriginal Engagement and Outreach for the Provincial System Support Program at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. Her doctoral studies were completed with the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Renee has 20 years of experience working with Aboriginal healing agencies and First Nation communities.

She is the author of a book entitled, Decolonizing Trauma Work: Indigenous Stories and Strategies, which explores healing and wellness in Indigenous communities. She has worked across the health and education sectors as a frontline worker, program evaluator, curriculum developer, and educator/trainer.

New Zealand

Carole Koha, Te Waka Whaiora Trust in Porirua

Carole is the Pou Kaihautu (CEO) at Te Waka Whaiora and Te Menenga Pai Trust, both services funded through the Capital & Coast District Health Board.

Carole has a range of experience working with District Health Boards and Māori providers within the mid-Central region. Carole has a range of expertise that has included roles as a nurse, manager, auditor and health trainer; she has been within the health sector for over 30 years. She actively advocates on issues that still have disparities towards health outcomes for Māori. Carole is a strong believer in whanau ora and how the whanau and communities need to step up and become more responsible in making positive changes for Māori in ensuring we receive the same benefits as other people residing in Aotearoa.

 Donna Blair, Te Utuhina Manaakitanga in Rotoru

Donna is a Māori woman from the South Island’s West Coast. She is the General Manager for Te Utuhina Manaakitanga Trust in Rotorua. Throughout her career, she has been committed to the addiction alcohol and other drug and gambling harm sector, actively promoting and protecting mātauranga Māori as best practice in organizational and service delivery. Donna has also served as a Clinical Supervisor and Clinical Team Leader with Te Atea Marino.

Donna is engaged in local, regional and national fora for addiction and Māori.  She has grown the capacity and capability of the workforce at the Te Utuhina Manaakitanga Trust – clinically and culturally demonstrated by being an early adopter of the Takarangi Competency Framework, training by Te Pū Wānanga o Anamata and Moana House Training Insititute.

Sweden

Jon Petter Anders Stoor