Canadian Conference on Promoting Healthy Relationships for Youth
The Canadian Conference on Promoting Healthy Relationships for Youth was a tremendous success, bringing in over 432 participants from across North America. These participants came from a wide range of sectors, including educators, mental health professionals, police, justice and victim services, researchers and professors, social workers and government. The Centre for Research and Education and the Centre for School Mental Health worked collaboratively to ensure the success of the Conference, and in doing so highlighted the intersections between mental health and violence and bullying.
Student poster winner – Nicole Off : Left to Right: Peter Jaffe, Nicole Off , Dave Wolfe
Beginning on Wednesday, there were 7 full-day workshops, followed by 39 sessions the following two days, with over 50 presenters. Rehtaeh Parsons’ father, Glen Canning, gave the first of four keynote addresses in a powerful testament to the ability to learn lessons from tragedy and the importance of breaking down the silos between service systems. One of the participants said that all of “the keynote speakers gave such amazing talks! They were inspiring and motivating and I am taking that with me back to my job.”
Keynote Speaker Glen Canning - Rehtaeh Parsons' father
Glenn Canning clearly had a special impact on many of the people involved in the conference, in particular those involved with youth and suicide prevention. Another person present mentioned that his speech really stuck out for them: “I work a lot with youth who experience suicidal ideation and behaviours. I found his story to be incredibly powerful and beneficial to my work. I can guarantee that Rehtaeh’s story will be on my mind each time I am supporting a youth who is having these thoughts and feelings, particularly those who have experienced abuse.”
Renee Turner, Reaching out with Yoga, Sara Mohamed, Jassamine Tabibi & Linda Baker, Knowledge Hub, Heather Gregory & Sandra Pribanic, Sole Expression, Joanne Baker, Reaching out with Yoga
Throughout the conference, a wide range of topics were discussed, including trauma informed schools, the role of technology in relationship violence, promoting well-being among Aboriginal youth, intersections between violence and mental health, and universal and holistic prevention programs, among others. Another participant remarked that they plan to use the information from a few of the breakout sessions in their planning for the upcoming school year.
Ultimately, the Conference highlighted the breakthrough in school-based and integrated curriculum programs that reaffirm the importance of fostering partnerships with parents, students and community professionals. Participants left with a better knowledge of different programs and options they can implement as well as new skills. To echo one of our participants - “the conference was incredible!”