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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

2015 Vern Harper Award

Honouring contributions to helping Aboriginal clients experiencing mental health and substance use issues

Charlene Tyance, a member of Gull Bay First Nation and a Family Preservation Worker at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, is this year’s recipient of the Chapin A’sin Elder Vern Harper Award for Excellence in the Provision of Culturally-Based Practice. The award, presented annually by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), recognizes a First Nations, Inuit or Métis individual in Ontario who demonstrates excellence in using culturally-based treatment approaches to help Aboriginal people experiencing a mental health and/or substance use issue.

CAMH staff with 2015 Award recipient
(L to R):  Rose Pittis, Regional Manager, Northwest Region and Aboriginal Initiatives (CAMH), Charlene Tyance, 2015 Award Recipient, Megan Tiernan, Aboriginal Engagement Lead, Northwest Region (CAMH),  Renee Linklater, Director Aboriginal Engagement and Outreach (CAMH), Alison Benedict, Provincial Aboriginal Training Coordinator (CAMH)

  “As an Aboriginal woman, my culture and language of my people are very important to me, said Charlene Tyance as she accepted the award.

“I am thankful for the teachings that were shared with me by the Elders of my community, Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (Gull Bay First Nation). I am also thankful for the support of my employer and colleagues at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and grateful for the opportunity to share cultural teachings with my clients and colleagues.”

Colleague Darcia Borg, Executive Director of Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, proudly describes Charlenes as someone “who carries her Aboriginal culture with great dignity and pride and so lovingly shares her spirit with those whose lives she touches.”

Charlene is described by her colleagues as very well rooted in her spiritual and cultural practices. Charlene uses these healing tools to support clients on their journey to well-being and colleagues in need. Recognized as a mentor and role model, Charlene’s willingness to share her gifts is valued by clients, colleagues, and the community.

Colleagues describe these remarkable gifts as foundational to her professional practice and personal journey. Darcia adds that “throughout her career, Charlene has wholly demonstrated what an Anishinabek helper does.”

Renee Linklater, Director of Aboriginal Engagement and Outreach for the Provincial System Support Program at CAMH says “presenting this award gives us the important opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions that our people make to the well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.”

Each year, the Vern Harper Award moves to another region of the province. Charlene Tyance is from Northwestern Ontario.

Megan Tiernan, CAMH’s Aboriginal Engagement Lead in the Northwest Region, says presenting Charlene with the award was an honour.  “Charlene is devoted to helping her clients heal and grow. It was inspiring to hear Charlene speak about her passion for using traditional practices and her cultural knowledge in the work she does and the impact that doing so has had on her clients over the years.”

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