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OISE grad Peter Menzies wins national award for the treatment of mental health and addiction in the Aboriginal community 


By Jennifer Sipos-Smith

May 9, 2011

OISE alum Peter Menzies has received an Award of Excellence from the Kaiser Foundation for his contributions to the treatment of mental health and addictions in the Aboriginal community. Peter is the clinic head of Aboriginal Services at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. The National Mental Health and Addictions Awards for Excellence were handed out by the Kaiser Foundation at a ceremony held last week in Regina. 
Peter’s doctoral thesis, Orphans Within Our Family: Intergenerational Trauma and Homeless Aboriginal Men, was based on research he conducted on intergenerational trauma among Aboriginal men and has a unique understanding of the challenges that Aboriginal Canadians face.  The thesis, published in 2005, was supervised by Jack Quarter in the Adult Education program. 

Here are some of the highlights featured about Peter Menzies in conjunction with the award, and a research profile about his work:

Peter is member of Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, and has spent the past ten years building culturally congruent mental health and addictions programs in partnership with both urban, rural and First Nations communities through his work at CAMH. He is the organization’s first Aboriginal Clinic Head and is responsible for creating CAMH’s Aboriginal Services Program, providing support to communities across Ontario and nationally. During the past decade, this service, housed in the Addictions Program at CAMH, has grown from being a good intention into a formal strategic priority at CAMH. Peter’s personal leadership and his gift to form productive collaborations with colleagues across the organization, the sector and amongst diverse communities are at the heart of this transformation.

Experienced in social services, adult education and psychological counselling, Peter’s doctoral thesis was based on research he conducted on intergenerational trauma among Aboriginal men and has a unique understanding of the challenges that Aboriginal Canadians face. Growing up in an institution run by the Sisters of St. Joseph’s for ten years and later transferred to the Children’s Aid Society at age thirteen, as a youth Peter was not only unaware that he was a member of a First Nations community, but also held many misconceptions about his people. “I had no idea why people were calling me racial names until one day a social worker told me that I was an Indian. It was then the pieces started to fall in place for me,” he said.

The Kaiser Mental Health and Addictions Awareness Foundation is a national organization which carries out programs and initiatives across Canada in the fields of mental health and addictions. The vision of the Foundation is to connect community, corporate, and government sectors in a unified understanding of mental health and substance abuse as complex public health issues which must be effectively addressed through a comprehensive approach involving a full continuum of care.