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Moosonee and Moose Factory: Examining mental health in northern Ontario’s Cree communities


Field Study in Psychology

University of Guelph-Humber students are traveling by plane, by bus, by boat, by helicopter, and by foot in order to gain a better understanding of the notable disparities in mental health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations.

While in the northern Ontario communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory, students are visiting with community leaders and with Elders; they’re visiting the probation and parole offices; they're visiting the Sagashtawao Healing Lodge, Payukotayno Family Services, the Cree Cultural Interpretive Centre, the Weeneebayko General Hospital – they’re examining interventions provided by both government agencies and traditional healing services.

“Helping people through understanding them is a critical competence for those interested in the field of psychology,” says Program Head of Psychology and field study course instructor, Dr. David Danto.

“It’s one thing to hear that suicide rates are, in some communities, six times what they are among the general population. It’s another thing to meet with people who can tell you the names of friends they’ve lost.”

He continues: “We find stories of great resilience and great strength and great generosity in communities that are challenged in more ways than what we might see in Ontario's larger cities.”

“Our students are hearing these stories from those who have lived in these communities their entire lives; they’re asking why, they’re seeing the challenges, they’re seeking to understand the future of mental health.”

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