Join The BC-CfE's COAST team in a virtual Café Scientifique titled “Climate Impacts on the Mental Health and Wellness of British Columbians” held on February 1st, 2021. This event represents a collaboration between the BC-CfE, the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University and the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, and has been funded by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.
The event, held over Zoom, aimed to raise awareness and facilitate community engagement on the topic of climate change and mental health and discuss the pathways by which mental health and wellness and climate change influence each other. Through presentations and an interactive Q&A, we heard from two well respected academics in the field of climate change and mental health, Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo and Dr. Maya Gislason.
This event began with an Indigenous Ceremonial Opening by Elder Valerie Nicholson, a peer Indigenous Research Associate at the BC-CfE and was moderated by youth climate activist, Abhay Sachal, co-founder and director at Break the Divide Foundation.
Missed the event? Click here to view the recording.
Dr. Cunsolo is the founding dean of the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies at the Labrador Institute of Memorial University, a former Canada Research Chair (Tier II) and a member of the Royal Society of Canada of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. She is a leading voice nationally and internationally on climate change, mental health and ecological grief and has written numerous articles as well as contributed regularly to the media on these topics. She is a lead author on the Health Canada Climate Change Assessment reports.
Dr. Maya K. Gislason is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and a Michael Smith Foundation Health Research Scholar. She is a longstanding champion of ecosystem approaches to health, and as a climate change and health equity scholar she focuses primarily on addressing the impacts of climate change and intensive resource extraction on rural, remote, northern and Indigenous communities in Canada. Through her work, she strives to strengthen Planetary Health and advance intergenerational climate justice and believes interventions should be defined by co-benefits to both people and the planet.
Honouring her given names, The One the Eagles watch over, NoDe WenDa (Wolf eyes) and Auntie from the Torres Straights Islanders, Valerie is M'kmaq, Haida, gypsy and UK Islander descent. A mother of 4 boys and grandmother of 5 grandchildren, Living with HIV fir 16 years, Valerie currently works at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS as a Peer Researcher and Co-investigator, and at AIDS Vancouver as Indigenous Peer Navigator.
Valerie is the 2018 recipient of CAHR Red Ribbon Research award, the 2019 AIDS Vancouver Red Ribbon Award for Outstanding Contribution to the HIV/AIDS Movement, and the 2019 CAHR-CANFAR excellence in research CBR (CHIWOS). She is the past board Chair of Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network. She works with youth as Elder for Camp Moomba, YouthCo, First Directions and Yuusnewas. Her new adventure is in Artivism.
Abhayjeet (Abhay) Singh Sachal is an 19-year-old Canadian humanitarian, environmentalist, and activist who believes that engagement in dialogue and conversation can serve to spark change around the world. After a trip to the Arctic in 2016, Abhay co-founded Break The Divide Foundation, a non-profit organization that connects youth around the world with one another. Based on principles of environmentalism, sustainability, and reconciliation, Break The Divide focuses on fostering empathy and understanding to inspire action projects in communities.
Abhay has been a key presenter at numerous international conferences in his efforts to share environmental and educational knowledge. Abhay was recently named one of Canada's Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists and featured as Canada's Walk of Fame Community Hero. He is also an avid ice hockey player and pianist. Abhay is a second-year student at the University of Toronto, studying Global Health and Peace & Conflict Studies.