Dr Randy Fransoo is a Senior Research Scientist and Acting Associate Director of Research at Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, and an assistant professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. He is currently blogging from the 5th International Conference on Recent Advances in the Prevention and Management of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity
The theme for the final morning of the conference was Resilience, and featured presentations on various aspects of that topic by Dr. Rod McCormick (Thompson Rivers University), Dr. Christine Wekerle (McMaster) and Dr. John Walker (Manitoba). A clear theme in all three talks was the importance of connection in its numerous forms, including family, community, culture, and history, among others.
Dr. Allison Dart (Manitoba) presented data from the Manitoba-based iCARE study of kidney disease among youth with Type 2 Diabetes. This cohort study is unique because of its aim to understand the influence of psychological health on physical and physiologic outcomes in youth. Some key early findings include the paramount importance of stress and distress in the lives of kids with type 2 diabetes. Preliminary results suggest significant relationships between stress and physiological measures of HPA axis activity, and inflammatory processes (another novel feature of the study). The results also connected to the resilience theme, in that scales of Mastery and Relatedness showed significant associations with better control of HbA1c levels. This study is now planning to expand to multiple sites across the country.
The conference closed with an impassioned address by Wab Kinew, celebrated local musician, broadcaster, and Director of Indigenous Inclusion at the University of Winnipeg. Wab spoke about a key early learning in his training to be a member of the Midewiwin (Grand Medicine Society of the Ojibwa). He explained that the knowledge system is based on the fundamental principle that “Everything is medicine.” This includes all aspects of life –not just medicines and healing practices, but also food and family and friends and work and everything else. A key part of the understanding is that all medicines need to be used wisely: not too much, not too little. He noted that taking care and living properly reflect the long history of healing and the cultivation of well-being in their traditional culture. Wab skillfully conveyed an encouraging message that despite historical issues that brought many difficult challenges, recent developments reflect a resurgence of Indigenous culture – and the signs of this resurgence are becoming evident in numerous parts of Canadian society. This notably includes the richer and broader understanding of the residential school system, the Government of Canada’s apology, and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is helping many to shed the multi-generational trauma that system created, creating space for the flourishing resurgence.