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February 8, 2023
Pushor Mitchell LLP West Coast Brain Injury Conference
The Pushor Mitchell LLP West Coast Brain Injury Conference (WCBIC) 2023 will bring together inspiring change-makers and leading minds in the field of brain injury, public health, and politics for a full day of collaboration, dialogue, and learning.
In line with this year’s conference theme, “A Synthesis of Systems: Working Together to Fill the Gaps”, our focus is on the brain and behaviour in the context of current social issues, community connection, and systems change. Speakers topics will include intersectionality and disability justice, harm reduction, misdiagnosis of brain injury, and the perspectives of those with lived experience of brain injury.
As an attendee, sponsor, or exhibitor, you will be joining us on our mission to harness the power of community and collaboration to uplift individuals living with brain injury who fall through the gaps in our systems.
We hope that you will join us for this very important and innovative community event. Together, we believe we can make our community more just, kind, and equitable for all.
Responding to the Overdose Crisis in British Columbia: Opportunities and Challenges
Dr. Mary Clare Kennedy
British Columbia is contending with an escalating epidemic of overdose deaths driven by a toxic drug supply. Although a public health emergency was declared in 2016 in response to this crisis, overdose deaths have continued to increase, and the morbidity associated with non-fatal overdose pose a range of new challenges. This presentation will review the latest epidemiology specific to the overdose crisis, and will highlight the role of emerging substances, including illicitly-manufactured synthetic drugs. A range of interventional and policy approaches will be discussed, including those spanning the prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and enforcement pillars. Also discussed will be the role of ongoing healthcare provider education and clinical guideline development as key components to the response to the overdose emergency.
Identifying and filling gaps in treatment for people in the chronic stages of brain injury
Dr. Robin Green
This presentation will discuss clinical diagnosis of brain injury as a gateway to services, including barriers to obtaining a clinical diagnosis and the importance of self-advocacy. The dangers and implications of missed diagnoses for people with brain injury and comorbid mental health and substance use issues will be explored. This presentation will also highlight recent work on telerehabilitation research and models.
From Surviving to Thriving: Building Better Habits for Brain Health
In my talk, I will discuss how sustaining a severe traumatic brain injury as a young adult changed my life, including my mental health, and how I came to focus on brain health. I will talk about the importance of brain health for prevention of illness and injury. As well, I will discuss the value of breathwork and mindfulness-focused interventions in my brain injury recovery.
How brain injury and other disabilities can affect spousal support and other Family Law related issues
This presentation will review what people with disability are entitled to from a legal perspective, including disability and spousal support, as well as how disability of a minor can impact child support.
Topic: Disability Justice and Ethical Responsibility
How can we make neurorehabilitation more effective?
Dr. Lara Boyd
The most difficult questions in rehabilitation are “What is this patient’s potential for recovery?” and “What is the best rehabilitation strategy for this person?” Without answers to these questions, clinicians struggle to make decisions regarding the focus of therapy, researchers design studies that mix participants who have a high likelihood of responding with those who do not, and patients suffer from suboptimal outcomes. Biomarkers are measures that can be used to categorize patient subtypes and identify who will respond to certain therapies. This talk will explain how biomarkers can be used personalize rehabilitation. Ongoing research that pairs magnetic resonance imaging with noninvasive brain stimulation will be presented as an illustration of evidence based, person centered care.
Part of the Solution: Addressing Harm Reduction and Anoxic Brain Injury as a Community
Panel Speakers: Ali Butler, Mary Clare Kennedy, Michael Kube, Mike Gawliuk, Shannon Pedlar
Local community leaders will share their perspective on harm reduction and anoxic brain injury and how this relates to systemic issues affecting our community including homelessness, crime, mental health, and community supports for individuals with complex needs. The interactive panel will discuss how we can work together as community partners to build a foundation of support and be part of the solution. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions to the panel of speakers.
Enhancing Organizational Awareness
BC Corrections provides correctional services and programs to individuals 18 years and older. We are 2,647 probation officers, correctional officers and staff working together to reduce reoffending and protect communities in BC. Across the province we operate 10 correctional centres holding approximately 1700 individuals and 56 Community Corrections offices supervising around 20,000 clients. It is estimated that 60-80% of individuals in a correctional setting could have a history of brain injury. Over the last 5 years we have been working on increasing the awareness of staff and clients about the impacts of brain injury with the goal of being more responsive to the needs of these individuals in our care. This presentation will explore the ways we are bringing this knowledge and awareness to our organization, including a project with Brain Injury Canada to create a first of its kind education resource for staff in provincial correctional settings.
Brain Injury in the Justice System: Kelowna’s Integrated Court
Kelowna’s Integrated Court is a court for individuals whose offending is due, at least in part, to an underlying issue such as mental health, substance use, or brain injury. The court operates from the view that the most effective way to avoid or prevent offending is to assist these individuals in managing and overcoming these underlying circumstances. As a founding member of Kelowna’s Integrated Court, Judge Lisa Wyatt will explain how the court was established, the importance of community engagement, and the process by which cases are seen in the court. This interactive discussion will include a question-and-answer period.
Dr. Robin Green is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and senior scientist in cognitive neurosciences at the University Health Network – KITE, and the Saunderson Chair in Acquired Brain Injury. Her program of research addresses brain and behavioural mechanisms of recovery from traumatic brain injury, and the development of interventions based on these findings. Her lab has helped to better understand impediments to recovery, challenging prevailing assumptions of moderate-severe traumatic brain injury as a static disorder, and reconceptualizing it as progressive, with early recovery of brain and behaviour followed often by declines in the months and years post-injury in many. Encouragingly, the lab has identified novel, modifiable (post-injury) treatment targets, and has been using these findings to develop interventions for mitigation of decline and improvement of clinical outcomes. Dr. Green and colleagues established the TeleRehab Centre for Acquired Brain Injury to treat and study the enduring effects of mild to severe brain injury of any etiology. Patients across Ontario receive remotely delivered, group-based assessments and behavioural interventions (pro bono); the clinical findings are used to continuously enhance treatment. The Centre was created to address a considerable gap in treatment for patients in the chronic stages of injury, and provides access to evidence-based treatments for patients regardless of geographic location, mobility restrictions or socio-economic status. A future goal is to treat patients in other provinces. Dr. Green is a co-founder and co-lead of ECHO Concussion, she is the Neuropsychology lead for the Canadian Concussion Centre at UHN, and a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. She completed her PhD at Cambridge University, and her clinical neuropsychology training at the University Health Network in Toronto.
Dr. Thomas Kerr, PhD, is Director of Research with the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) and is a Professor in and the Head of the Division of Social Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Kerr holds a doctoral degree in counselling and health psychology, and brings over 15 years of clinical experience working with a range of populations, including people who use substances, individuals living with mental illnesses, and people living with HIV. His primary research interests involve substance use, harm reduction, HIV/AIDS, and health policy and service evaluation. His long history of involvement in healthcare issues in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside includes ground-breaking work on peer-driven interventions, needle exchanges, and supervised consumption sites. Dr. Kerr has also worked in a number of settings internationally, including in Thailand, Argentina, Australia, France, the US, Russia, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Dr. Kerr’s work impacts policy and practice both close to home and internationally. At home in Vancouver, his leadership in research on needle exchanges and supervised consumption sites has helped inform the redesign of harm reduction programs locally and internationally. Abroad, his community-based research in Thailand has been cited extensively in reports by the World Bank and the Global Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Dr. Kerr has provided invited expert testimony to House of Commons and Senate committees, the United Nations, and he was an expert witness for the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry. Dr. Kerr has published more than 700 scientific papers in international peer-reviewed journals and has received numerous local and national awards for his contributions to public health, human rights, and the fight against HIV/AIDS. He has received the Providence Health Care, Department of Medicine, and UBC Martin M. Hoffman Award for Excellence in Research. He has also been the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Governor General of Canada, the National Knowledge Translation Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for his efforts to promote scientific discussion on the topic of illicit drug policy, and was the recipient of CIHR’s inaugural Population and Public Health Research Milestones Initiative Award for his outstanding contribution to developing Canada’s research base for harm reduction and health equity approaches to HIV prevention and control. Dr. Kerr has also been the recipient of the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship, which recognizes scholars whose personal courage and quality of published research constitute a source of inspiration in drug policy scholarship.
Laura is Gitxsan from Gitanmaax, which is near Old Hazelton, in northern BC. Following a matriarchal clan system, Laura is a member of the Wolf clan. Her maternal grandfather was hereditary chief of the Frog Clan. Her maternal grandmother was the hereditary chief of the Wolf Clan. Cultural traditions and protocols and traditional governance all strongly guide her practice as a social worker.
Laura completed her Bachelor of Social Work Degree here in Kelowna in 1999. Immediately she took on the position of Executive Director of Independent Living Vernon (ILV), a disability resource centre for people with a variety of disabilities. In 2010, Laura completed her Master’s of Arts (Interdisciplinary Studies) here at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Her thesis was titled “A Longer Journey” An Exploration of Indidividuals’ with Disabilities Experiences of Employment Programs in Vernon, BC. The research highlighted the importance of connection and control within the realm of employment for people with disabilities.
While still working part time at ILV, Laura works at Splatsin Health Services, near Enderby BC. As the Health Lead, Laura oversees a team of social workers and clinicians to provide a range of culturally safe and trauma informed services for First Nations people.
Corbin Coulter is a traumatic brain injury survivor, BrainTrust client, and brain health advocate. When Corbin was 24 years old, he sustained a traumatic brain injury from a fall while drinking with friends. Following his injury, he experienced physical and sensory difficulties, as well as difficulties with his mental health. Corbin credits his progress in recovery to his focus on brain health through meditation, nutrition, exercise, and other healthy habits. He is always learning more by reading books and listening to podcasts. Corbin meditates every morning and has attended several silent meditation retreats.
Dr. Lara Boyd is a Neuroscientist and Physical Therapist at the University of British Columbia. She is a professor and has held a Canada Research Chair, a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Career Scientist award and been a Peter Wall Early Career Scholar. Dr. Boyd directs the Brain Behaviour Lab at the University of British Columbia. Her TEDx talk “After this your brain will not be the same” has over 25 million views. Dr. Boyd is an expert in mapping how behaviours, environments and experiences affect brain health and learning using techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging and non-invasive brain stimulation. To date this work has largely examined the impact of exercise and learning on neurobiology.
Mike completed his Bachelor Degree in Psychology and then went on to earn his Masters in Leadership at Royal Roads. Mike started on the front line, working with youth experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. After that, he moved into program leadership and into senior leadership roles in the non-profit sector.
Mike is interested in collective impact and how this approach holds significant potential to address the particularly difficult issues we are wrestling with (e.g. homelessness, poverty, systems change in mental health and substance use care, etc.).
Dr. Mary Clare Kennedy is a Canada Research Chair in Substance Use Policy and Practice Research and an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at UBC Okanagan. She is also a Research Scientist with the BC Centre on Substance Use. Dr. Kennedy’s research draws on quantitative and qualitative methods to examine social-structural dimensions of health among people who use drugs, and to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of novel harm reduction interventions, including safe supply programs and innovations in supervised consumption service delivery. She is currently co-leading the scientific evaluation of the Safer Alternatives for Emergency Response (SAFER) initiative, a Health Canada-funded, low-barrier safe supply pilot program in Vancouver that seeks to: (1) reduce overdose risk through the prescription of pharmaceutical alternatives to the unregulated drug supply; and (2) serve as a low-barrier point of access to the continuum of care for people who use drugs. Dr. Kennedy is also currently co-leading a CIHR-funded study investigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on supervised consumption service delivery, access and outcomes in Vancouver and Surrey.
Ali Butler is a proud member of the Syilx Nation from the Lower Similkameen, and a Social Worker specialized in working with Indigenous communities. She brings many years of frontline and leadership experience working collaboratively with a variety of social-serving organizations in the areas of community outreach, health promotion, suicide prevention, and education. She has extensive knowledge in areas that impact vulnerable populations with expertise in the areas of mental health, crisis response, homelessness, intergenerational trauma and addictions, community navigation and advocacy both on reserve and within an urban setting. Ali is passionate about decolonizing systems, land-based healing, integrating Indigenous language concepts into practice, building community capacity, and responding to the needs of community in a holistic, inclusive and culturally safe way. She blends traditional teachings and contemporary practices and works to support people to come together in safe spaces without judgment or shame. Ali holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Indigenous Specialization, from the University of Victoria and a diploma from Okanagan College in Human Service Work.
Michael Kube is a home grown Kelowna resident and a 30 year veteran of Law Enforcement. In his current role with the Kelowna RCMP, Michael works closely with partner agencies to connect those experiencing mental health, addiction and housing challenges with services and shelter resources. Michael also has a passion for building relationships, awareness and trust between Police and Kelowna’s diverse BIPOC, 2SLGBTQAI+ and new Canadian communities. Michael is committed to a safe, prosperous and inclusive Kelowna for everyone.
Brent Coyne is a litigation lawyer with Pushor Mitchell in the area of Family Law. Brent assists clients whose family issues may not be suitable or otherwise conducive to mediation. He is primarily geared towards resolving disputes through litigation and has successfully argued cases at all levels of court in British Columbia. Brent is an active member of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC, the Canadian Bar Association, the Kelowna Bar Association. Brent also serves as a Director of the Kelowna Art Gallery. Brent was called to the bar in 2012.
Shannon Pedlar is the Harm Reduction Coordinator for John Howard Society Okanagan & Kootenay, overseeing the delivery and development of harm reduction services and programs provided by this agency across Supportive Housing, Shelter Services, and outreach. Shannon has extensive front-line experience and education working with people who use substances.
Shannon values innovation and flexibility as key components necessary to address the ongoing toxic drug poisoning crisis and addressing the many harms – including brain injury – that result from the ever-increasing toxins present in the drug supply.
Jason McIntyre has worked for BC Corrections since 2008 as a Probation Officer, Provincial Trainer and the last 4 years as an analyst.
Lisa Wyatt was appointed to the B.C. Provincial Court in December 2013, after having practiced family law in Kelowna for 22 years. She graduated from UBC Law School in 1990 and spent all of her practice years in Kelowna. During the course of her career as a lawyer, she represented clients in matters arising from separation and divorce, and acted as counsel for the Director in child protection cases for a number of years early on in her career. She was trained in collaborative practice as well, and focused to a large degree in out of court resolution wherever possible.
She served her profession in various capacities, including as President of the Kelowna Bar Association, Chair of the Family Law Subsection of the Okanagan Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, and as an elected member of the Provincial Council of the Canadian Bar Association (B.C. Branch) for six years. She was an active volunteer in the community as well, serving on the Boards of the Elizabeth Fry Society, the Children’s Festival Society of Kelowna, and the Kelowna Community Food Bank.
Judge Wyatt was assigned to head up the Integrated Court in Kelowna in 2021, a task she took up with great enthusiasm. In her life away from the court, she enjoys travelling, photography, skiing, camping and hiking with her family, which includes her husband, three adult sons and their partners, and several very spoiled dogs.
Rotary Centre for the Arts
421 Cawston Avenue
Kelowna, BC V1Y 6Z1
WCBIC 2022 is hosted in the city of Kelowna – the gateway to the stunning Okanagan Valley. Located in the Southern Interior of BC, the Okanagan region is known for its wineries and fruit orchards. The main city of Kelowna is situated on the beautiful shore of the Okanagan Lake.
Explore the beautiful city of Kelowna through its booming culinary scene. Book a food or winery tour, or check out Tourism Kelowna’s guide for recommendations to some of our favourite restaurants.
Kelowna is the city of all-seasons fun! Whether you explore in the valley’s natural playground or take your adventure indoors, there’s something for everyone!