For Immediate Release – May 4, 2011 – (Toronto) – Dr. Peter Menzies, Clinic Head of Aboriginal Services at CAMH, received an Award of Excellence from the Kaiser Foundation for his contributions to the treatment of mental health and addictions in the Aboriginal community. The National Mental Health and Addictions Awards for Excellence were handed out by the Kaiser Foundation at a ceremony held last week in Regina.
“The recipients always amaze me,” said Kaiser Foundation Founder and Chairman Edgar Kaiser Jr. “One of the main reasons we established this Awards Program was to acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary work being done in this field by individuals, community groups and the media. These people often get little or no recognition for their efforts and we hope that shining a light on their work will help raise awareness of mental health and addictions locally and nationally.”
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.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit www.camh.net.