Dr. Clare Brant
The Native Mental Health Association was established in 1983 by Dr. Clare Brant, the first psychiatrist of Native origin in Canada. He was a member of the Wolf Clan and the Mohawk Nation. Dr. Brant gained national recognition for his insights into Native mental health processes and his exceptional skills as teacher, lecturer, and author.
While Dr. Brant liked to describe himself in modest terms, as a medicine man, country doctor and farmer, he took considerable satisfaction in his role establishing the Native Mental Health Association of Canada, He was the founder and first Chairman and active board member from 1990 - 1993. Dr. Brant died at Belleville General Hospital March 12, 1995.
The Association grew out of his work with the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) Section on Native Mental Health, established to promote professional awareness of Native mental health and cooperation with the health personnel in Native communities. It was so successful that a non-profit association was formed and became the Native Mental Health Association of Canada that continues to this time. Dr. Brant was regarded by those who knew him as a man who embodied the highest ideals of Native Society. In the words of the Great Iroquois Law of Peace: “having the good of the people always foremost in his mind".
William J. Mussell, Chairman
Since 1980, most of Bill’s professional work has focused on First Nations and Aboriginal challenges, aspirations and issues especially in justice, education, human services, and mental health. Work with non-government organizations began while he was a university student in the late 1950s, and it has continued to the present time. He is a popular speaker, educator, and adviser on First Nations matters who has worked in program and community planning and as a career educator of teachers, social workers, community health educators, counselors, local government leaders, and psychiatric residents. Research and engagement in work addressing mental health matters, especially suicide, are priorities for him. He is a member of the Skwah First Nations and is of Sto:lo heritage. He is Manager/Principal Educator of the Sal’i’shan Institute, a private post-secondary education institute based in Chilliwack, B.C., chair of the NMHA of Canada, and on the management committee of CAMIMH.
Dr. Brenda Restoule, Vice-Chair
Brenda is a clinical psychologist, registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario, and is a member of Dokis First Nation, a semi-isolated community in NE Ontario. Brenda’s spirit name is Waab-Zhe-Kwens (Little Swan) and she is of the Eagle Clan. Cultural identity and health status of Ojibway people were major components of her Master’s and Doctoral level dissertations. She has worked with children and families at the Regional Children's Psychiatric Center in Sudbury, providing psychological assessments, interventions and evaluations. She was also clinical consultant to Cedar Lodge, a sexual abuse healing lodge, for about 3 years. She has also provided psychological consultation to a variety of First Nations communities, and continues to do similar work from her home-base in Sudbury.
Joan, a Mi’kmaq woman from Nova Scotia, has worked both on- and off-reserve in programs involving social services since 1973 when she earned an MSW. She has workedd as a Human Rights Officer with the N.S. Human Rights Commission, Executive Director of the Friendship Centre in Halifax and as a middle manager with Indian Affairs. She helped to develop Mi’kmaq Family and Children’s Services, a mandated child welfare agency that also operates two Family Treatment Centres that provide shelter and safety to women and children, and outreach counselling to men. Joan has been Executive Director of Mi’kmaq Family and Children’s Services for about two decades and makes her assistance available to a number of national and provincial boards and committees, including the Native Mental Health Association of Canada.
Bob has a background in Psychiatric Nursing, Hospital and Health Care Administration, and Sr. Management Development. His volunteer work includes AIDS and HIV programs, Healing Circles, Traditional Healing and Elders Programs. Up to 2003, Bob was employed by the Prince Albert Grand Council and was Director of the Wahpeton Spiritual Healing Lodge that remains, today, as a model for other healing lodges in Canada. He has been the Executive Director of the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Saskatchewan since January 2003, and has served on the NMHA of Canada board for several terms.
Normand D’Aragon works as a registered psychologist in Québec since 1983.He has been involved in different First Nations communities since 1990 as an individual, couple and family psychotherapist and also as a professional trainer for community workers. He is clinical director of a centre for early preventive interventions with first time parents in Montreal. He has a special interest for the development of intervention models aiming at breaking the cycle of intergenerational transmission of trauma with families and communities struggling with suicide, abuse and addictions. Normand is co-founder and director of the First Nations and Inuit Suicide Prevention Association of Québec.
Les is a registered psychologist in private practice working out of Edmonton, Alberta. He has worked with Aboriginal and other culturally unique clientele for close to 20 years. His work has been influenced by teachings of Cree elders, especially regarding appreciation of and respect for Native spirituality. He work has been performed in urban settings, on reserves, in prisons including maximum penitentiaries and native healing centers. Les has a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology and is working on his doctorate.
Dr. Ed Connors
Dr. Connors is a Psychologist registered in the Province of Ontario. He is of Mohawk ancestry from Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. He has worked with First Nations communities across Canada since 1982 in both urban and rural centres. His work over this time has included Clinical Director for an Infant Mental Health Centre in the city of Regina and Director for the Sacred Circle, a Suicide Prevention Program developed to serve First Nations communities in Northwestern Ontario. While developing the latter service, Dr. Connors worked with Elders and apprenticed in traditional First Nations approaches to healing. Today his practice incorporates traditional knowledge about healing while also employing his training as a Psychologist. He and his wife Donna, manage Onkwatenro'shon:'A, a health planning firm which provides health consultation and psychological services to First Nations communities throughout the Georgian Bay Muskoka region. Dr. Connors was a board member and vice-president of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention between 1990 - 1998. He is currently on the advisory council for the Ontario Suicide Prevention Network.
Some of his current work includes consultation and community training to assist First Nations in the development of Restorative Justice programs. He has also provided psychotherapy and traditional healing experiences to native inmates at Fenbrook Medium Institution, Correctional Services Canada.
Marlene Brant Castellano
Marlene Brant Castellano, a member of the Mohawk Nation, Bay of Quinte Band has pursued a number of careers: as a social worker in child and family services, a full-time wife and mother of 4, Professor and Chair of Native Studies at Trent University, and Co-Director of Research for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. She currently serves on the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics which is charged with advising the presidents of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) on updating the Tri-Council Policy Statement on Research Ethics (TCPS).
She holds a B.A. degree from Queen`s University, an M.S.W. degree from the University of Toronto and has done graduate study in the field of adult education at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Her teaching, research and publications centre around social and cultural issues, participatory research methods, and the application of traditional knowledge in contemporary settings.
Professor Castellano was awarded the title Professor Emeritus on her retirement from Trent University in 1996. She has received honorary LLDs from Queen’s, St.Thomas and, Carleton universities. She was inducted into the Order of Ontario in 1995 and in 1996 received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for her contribution to education. In February 2005 the Governor-General announced Professor Castellano’s appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Professor Castellano maintains a permanent residence on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on the Bay of Quinte with her husband Vincent. She continues with consulting work on social development and Aboriginal policy while balancing commitments as a grandmother.