Dr. Michael Ungar, founder and Director of the Resilience Research Centre and Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience at Dalhousie University in Halifax will be a featured keynote at the Inviting Resilience national conference to be hosted by Trent University; Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre; and The Mane Intent Inc on May 21 & May 22, 2019 at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. The Inviting Resilience Conference will combine academic and experiential learning to provide meaningful opportunities in building community capacity for the newest evidence-based practices; community-driven, multi-sectoral initiatives; and trauma-informed programming focused on building resilience in youth and adults impacted by childhood adversity and interpersonal trauma over the lifespan.

Dr. Ungar received his PhD in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1995 and is the former Chair of the Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, executive board member of the American Family Therapy Academy, and a family therapist who works with mental health services for individuals and families at risk. He has held over $10,000,000 in research funding over the past decade in support of an international series of studies spanning six continents. That research has changed the way resilience is understood, shifting the focus from individual traits to the interactions between people and their families, schools, workplaces, and communities.

“We’re thrilled to have Dr. Ungar, a highly respected and internationally acclaimed researcher and writer on the topic of resilience,” says Dr. Kateryna Keefer, Inviting Resilience Conference Chair, adding: “His presentation will bring together research, policy and lived experience in a way that is meaningful and relevant for all participants.”

Dr. Ungar is the author of 15 books that have been translated into 5 languages, numerous manuals for parents, educators, and employers, as well as more than 150 scientific papers and book chapters. Dr. Ungar has adapted findings from his research and lessons learned from his clinical practice into best-selling works for professionals and researchers, including The Social Ecology of Resilience, an edited volume for researchers; Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs, a training manual for mental health professionals, and books for parents such as Too Safe for Their Own Good: How Risk and Responsibility Help Teens Thrive and I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need from their Parents. His blog Nurturing Resilience appears on Psychology Today’s website.

Dr. Ungar’s presentation is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22, 2019. His presentation, themed Nurturing Community Resilience: Strategies to Build Social Cohesion and Community Engagement, will be a fast-paced and story-filled talk, featuring examples from his work with communities that are being challenged by racial conflict, economic marginalization, violence and natural and man-made disasters, to explore a number of factors that contribute to collective resilience.

Dr. Ungar will show that resilience is much more than an individual’s capacity to overcome adversity. It is instead a reflection of how well individuals, their families, communities and policymakers work together to create opportunities for the most vulnerable to navigate their way to the resources they need for wellbeing while making those resources available in ways that people experience as meaningful. His work suggests the need for a multi-systemic, culturally sensitive interpretation of what resilience means across different cultures and contexts.

“Dr. Ungar will discuss what we can do to make it more likely a community will do well when it experiences a major social or environmental disruption. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on ways that their communities are already nurturing resilience and how these experiences can be repeated. He will conclude his presentation with ideas for how individuals, families, communities and governments can make resilience-promoting resources more available and accessible to everyone,” adds Dr. Keefer.

Other Inviting Resilience conference keynote speakers include Dr. Keefer and Dr. Sandrina de Finney.

Conference chair Dr. Keefer is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychology at Trent University and the research lead for Building Internal Resilience Through Horses. As an emerging scholar, Dr. Keefer has co-authored over 30 journal articles and book chapters on the topics of emotional intelligence, resilience, mental health, and psychological assessment; delivered numerous invited talks and conference presentations on these topics; and co-edited the Springer book of Emotional Intelligence in Education.

Dr. Keefer is the opening plenary keynote scheduled at 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Her presentation themed Resourceful Communities, Resilient Youth will focus on trauma-informed promotion of wellness and resilience, featuring findings from the innovative community-based equine-assisted learning program Building Internal Resilience Through Horses.

Dr. Sandrina de Finney is the Associate Professor and Graduate Advisor, School of Child and Youth Care, at the University of Victoria. Dr. de Finney is an associate professor whose primary focus of scholarship is Indigenous and minoritized populations, particularly youth in care and girls/young women. Drawing on over two decades of experience as a community activist, researcher, trainer and youth worker, Dr. Sandrina’s academic work documents the impact of (neo)colonial practices and policies and how racialized communities negotiate and disrupt their effects. Her scholarship is rooted in participatory, action-oriented, and arts-based methods and draws on Indigenous, queer, anti-racist, anti/postcolonial and transnational feminist theories and perspectives.

The theme of Dr. de Finney’s keynote scheduled for Wednesday, May 22 at 8:45 a.m. is: Indigenous Resurgence as Resilience: Promising Pathways for Resilience and Healing in Indigenous Contexts. In this presentation, Dr. de Finney will explore the issues of trauma, resilience, healing and reconciliation can be reconsidered through Indigenous lens. This conceptual shift takes Indigenous resilience out of its individualized psycho-social definition and locates it instead in relationship with ancestors, lands, kinship, and self-determination.
Both Inviting Resilience Conference and Building Internal Resilience Through Horses are supported by a $464,983 contribution fund received by Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre in 2017. The funding is part of the The Public Health Agency of Canada Innovation Strategy supporting the Health of Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse through Community Programs.  This innovative project is being led by Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre in partnership with The Mane Intent Inc. and researchers from Trent University’s Emotion and Health Research Laboratory. Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre was one of over 150 agencies from across Canada to apply for the funding and one of 17 organizations to successful receive the funding.