OTTAWA, ON - Immigrant, refugee, ethno-cultural and racialized (IRER) people living in Canada face unique challenges that put their mental health at risk, but they encounter significant barriers when they seek help for mental health problems and illnesses.

Canada’s social and economic prosperity is rooted in its diverse population. Investing in the mental health of all people living in Canada is critical, especially in an increasingly knowledge-based economy.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) will convene service providers, policy makers, system planners, researchers and people with lived experience for a two-day event. They will discuss and recommend priority actions to improve mental health services for IRER people in Canada.

March 28 and 29, 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.

Lord Elgin Hotel, 100 Elgin St., Ottawa, ON

The following presenters will be available for interviews:

Opening Remarks
Louise Bradley, President and CEO, MHCC

Accessing Mental Health Services—A Lived Experience Perspective
Seemant Trehan, Strength in Unity Project Participant

Building on The Case for Diversity
Dr. Kwame McKenzie, CEO, Wellesley Institute; Clinical Director of Health Equity, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Lessons Learned in the Canadian Context—Diversity and Health Equity
Steve Lurie, Executive Director, Canadian Mental Health Association, Toronto; MHCC Advisory Council Member

Lessons Learned in the Canadian Context—Mental Health Services for IRER Youth
Sheeba Narikuzhy, Clinical Manager, East Metro Youth Services; MHCC Advisory Council Member

Global Mental Health
Dr. Kevin Pottie, Associate Professor of Family Medicine, and Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa

Cross-sectoral Collaboration
Dr. Soma Ganesan, City of Vancouver Diversity Advisory; Psychiatry, University of British Columbia

Opening Remarks: Day Two
The Honourable Kim Pate, Senator

Engaging Lived Experience—Lessons from the Restorative Inquiry
Tony Smith, Co-Chair, Restorative Inquiry

Health Equity Impact Assessment
Branka Agic, PhD, Manager of Health Equity, CAMH

Combatting Racism
The Honourable Justice Donald McLeod

SHERPA Centre of Excellence
Spyridoula Xenocostas, Associate Director, Research, l’Institut universitaire au regard des communautés ethnoculturelles
Janique Johnson-Lafleur, Research Coordinator, SHERPA

Across Boundaries
Aseefa Sarang, Executive Director, Across Boundaries

The meeting agenda and speakers’ biographies are available upon request.  Members of the media planning to attend should contact Hélène Côté, as space is limited.


The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together we create change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada. |

Media Contact:
Hélène Côté, Senior Communications Advisor, Marketing and Communications
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Office: 613.683.3952
Mobile: 613.857.0840


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The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Production of this document is made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada.