HCA 2021 Wellness Summit: Summary, Resources, and Community Report

The HCA 2021 Wellness Summit took place online over 3 days from June 15 to June 17, 2021. Thank you to all who joined us for this experience in learning and collaboration! For more information about session attendance and attendee feedback, read the community report

This summit’s theme, Telling Our Stories: Processes of Reflection and Growth, focused on our shared landscape of post-secondary mental health that continued to feel the impact of campus restructuring while responding to the pandemic and shifting education and service delivery. In the process, individuals have continually adapted to support their communities throughout some unique challenges, both personally and professionally.  This summit looked to our experiences in navigating connection and redefining community not as an outcome but as an on-going process towards growth. 

The first day of the Summit centred around building connections within the HCA community of practice. The second day featured a keynote and reflection with Françoise Mathieu, M.Ed., RP., CCC., from TEND, entitled, “Wading into the next normal – how to take care of your soul and heart.” The final day of the Summit included a panel discussion and breakout sessions on the following subthemes: 

  1. Redefining Community
  2. Enhancing Support Through Whole-system Collaboration
  3. Evolving Inclusive and Holistic Approaches to Mental Health and Wellness

Watch the videos below in full screen to explore the presentations and conversations from day 2 and day 3 of the Wellness Summit. Click here to read the full Summit agenda. 

Graphic Recording by Sam Hester, The 23rd Story, http://www.the23rdstory.com.
Graphic Recording by Sam Hester, The 23rd Story, http://www.the23rdstory.com.

The programming at the Summit was structured around different learning and connection opportunities which are listed below. Presenter slides, video, and notes from applicable sessions can be found below. (Use the dropdown menu with 6 sections.) Attendees at the Wellness Summit were also provided with a Summit Experience Journal to guide engagement and reflection throughout the event. Click here to check out the digital Summit Experience Journal.

HCA Introduction + Connection Session (Day 1 – June 15, 2021)

Watch the HCA introduction and opening remarks below or click here.

Connection Session, Facilitated by Makayla Freeman (HCA) & Aubrianna Snow (HCA)

This session focused on the relational community building integral to HCA. Participants met with each other to share their stories and discuss the theme of the summit in small breakout groups.

Keynote Speaker + Reflection Session (Day 2 – June 16, 2021)

Wading into the next normal – How to take care of your soul and heart

Presented by: Françoise Mathieu, M.Ed., RP., CCC. Secondary Traumatic Stress Specialist Executive Director, TEND

As Canada reaches the 15th month of the pandemic, it was an important time for all of us to pause and take stock of how we are doing as individuals and as a community. The messages about “getting back to normal” are problematic if we do not first allow time and space for all of us to process how we are doing emotionally and physically, and also allow room to discuss the challenges of the past year. Attendees joined us in an inspiring and positive exploration of the tools that we can use to make sure that we’re all in a good place for the next normal.

Explore the resources available at https://www.tendacademy.ca/resources/ and explore the graphic recording of this session here.

Françoise is Executive Director of TEND, whose aim is to offer consulting and training to professionals on topics related to secondary trauma, empathic strain, burnout, self-care, wellness and organizational health. Françoise is a Registered Psychotherapist and a subject matter expert on topics related to empathic strain and secondary trauma.

Before becoming a specialist on stress and trauma, Françoise worked as a mental health provider doing both crisis management and employee support. She worked at Queens University for 7 years and also worked for a decade with military personnel, college students, law enforcement and other community mental health professionals in need of psychological support.

Françoise was raised by two parents in the field of education, spending the early part of her life in Nunavik in Arctic Quebec where her mother was one of the creators of the first teacher training program for Inuit teachers and her father was a school principal with what is now known as Kativik School Board.

TEND’s program has grown in size and scope since its early inception and TEND is now present across North America offering training and consulting to a wide variety of workplaces. Françoise has worked with the University of Southern California, the Los Angeles Police, Cirque du Soleil, the Chief Coroner’s Office and many other organizations who do high stress exposed work.

Françoise is a TedX speaker and is one of the founding members of the Secondary Traumatic Stress Consortium. She is also the author of “The Compassion Fatigue Workbook” which was published by Routledge in 2012 as well as several articles and publications.

Panel Session (Day 3 – June 17, 2021)

This panel session unpacked the summit theme of Telling our Stories through different campus perspectives and experiences. Attendees heard from staff, students, faculty, and the external community as they took stock of mental health and wellness in their diverse campus roles across the province.

Watch the recording of the panel below or click here. Explore the graphic recording of this session here.

Panel Members:

Nusrat Awan (She/Her) volunteers as a Mental Health and Wellness Mentor at Bow Valley College. She is looking forward to serving communities as a Probation Officer after completing Justice Studies Diploma Program. Nusrat is passionate about mental health and human rights and strongly advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Terri Suntjens (she/her) is from Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 6 Territory. Professionally, Terri is the Director of Indigenous Initiatives & kihêw waciston at MacEwan University. Terri is the co-host and co-creator of “2 Crees in a Pod”, a podcast that amplifies Indigenous voices to honor Indigenous helping practices.

Taylor Molstad is currently getting her Master of Education in Counselling Psychology from University of Lethbridge. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Calgary. She recently published a paper in Trauma Abuse and Violence on the academic consequences of sexual assault. She loves dogs, birding, and books.

Kome Odoko is a Registered Nurse and the Student Support Case Management Coordinator with the Student at Risk team at the University of Calgary. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Alberta and completed her Masters in Nursing at the University of Calgary. With a background in pediatric and adolescent psychiatry, she is passionate about working with students, faculty, and staff to increase levels of mental wellness, flourishing, and resiliency in our community.

Carmen Arth, PhD, RSW (she/her/they/them) is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Concordia University of Edmonton. Carmen is active in researching topics related to well-being, thriving in life, and sexual and gender diversity-inclusion. As a Narrative Therapist and Inquirer, Carmen has a 23-year history of engaging story in her teaching, her research, and her therapeutic work. As such, Carmen is convinced that there is always more to the story and more stories to tell, and transformative change is possible through the intentional exploration of emergent stories.

Subtheme Breakout Sessions (Day 3 – June 17, 2021)

Explore the graphic recording to read quotes and key takeaways from these sessions here.

Subtheme #1 Breakout – Redefining Community  

Facilitated by Helen Pethrick, Student Research and Knowledge Exchange Assistant, Healthy Campus Alberta

Communities have increasingly become a malleable means of connection for individuals. No two communities are the same and in their uniqueness is the opportunity to grow with one another. This session explored the idea of ‘community,’ then delved into the function of a community of practice both personally and professionally. The session utilized Padlet to brainstorm common themes and engage with the discussion questions.

View the slides from this session here. Explore the attendee engagement on the Padlet here

Subtheme #2 Breakout – Enhancing Support through Whole-system Collaboration  

Facilitated by Amanda Balsillie, Grand Prairie Regional College

How do we collaboratively design programming within existing systems? Engaging multiple stakeholders in the mental health and wellness conversation helps us address campus well-being holistically. This includes multi-disciplinary teams working in collaboration across campuses and the entire province.  This session focused on working with community stakeholders and emphasized the importance of the Indigenous community and working together for the purpose of helping students achieve success both academically and personally.

Subtheme #3 Breakout – Evolving  Inclusive and Holistic  Approaches to Mental Health and Wellness  

Facilitated by The Colour Factor

The work towards healthy post-secondary campuses is multi-fold and reflects the values of the community. Continuing to evolve fundamental frameworks and perspectives in mental health practice and holding space for these key conversations is essential work. The topic for this session was Decolonizing Wellness. Decolonizing wellness is about reclaiming wellness practices that are often stolen, commodified and appropriated during the process of colonization and restoring what’s been lost. During this session, participants will learn about the lasting impacts of colonization on the mental health care system, as well as tools to decolonize one’s personal practice. Topics covered include culturally inclusive language, leadership models, community care, appropriation vs. appreciation, holistic health and anti-racism.

Click here to download the activity sheet from this session.

Share + Celebrate Closing Session (Day 3 – June 17, 2021)

Participants were invited to reflect on their learnings from the Summit and to celebrate the connection and sharing that happened as we gathered together. On Padlet, attendees shared:

The words shared on the Padlet were used to create a word cloud. Thank you again to everyone who attended and celebrated the HCA 2021 Wellness Summit with us!