Media releases

  • New Brock-CAMH report calls for enhanced mental health, neurodiversity supports for Indigenous communities

    MEDIA RELEASE: September 27 2023 – R0088

    A newly released report co-led by Brock University and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) aims to create and strengthen supports and services for Indigenous Peoples with neurodevelopmental differences.

    Published this week, Forming the Circle: Report on the 2023 Gathering on Indigeneity, Neurodevelopmental Disabilities & Mental Health, calls for culturally relevant services, enhanced partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations and a national network for knowledge-sharing and advocacy, among other recommendations.

    The report follows a Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded event held earlier this year intended to elevate the voices of those with lived experience at the intersections of Indigeneity, neurodevelopmental disability and mental health.

    Hosted at CAMH, the event was facilitated by Associate Professor Kendra Thomson of Brock’s Department of Applied Disability Studies and the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre and Community Support Specialist Louis Busch of the Shkaabe Makwa Centre for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Wellness at CAMH. The event was attended by Indigenous Peoples with lived experience, Elders and Knowledge Keepers and representatives from Indigenous organizations from across Canada.

    The final report reflects the collective findings of Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous allies who participated in the gathering and in the iterative feedback process that informed the report’s development.

    “We need to listen to what people want and need in order to affect meaningful change,” says Thomson. “We heard from people who are labelled with neurodevelopmental disabilities and are Indigenous who don’t often have a voice and aren’t asked about their take on things. We need to listen to community.”

    Busch says many neurodiverse people say they experience “a sense of disconnection, a sense of struggling with their identities and belonging — and that’s obviously compounded by the disconnection that many Indigenous Peoples feel from their culture and the loss of culture brought by colonization.”

    “There is an urgent need to ensure that culturally relevant services and supports are available to Indigenous Peoples with neurodevelopmental differences, that Elders are involved in the various initiatives and programming and that all steps are community-led,” he says.

    The report is designed to be accessible to a wide audience of people with lived experience, family members, clinicians and policy-makers, and features strengths, challenges and recommendations for both immediate and long-term action.

    Leading with strengths is important, says Busch, as one of the key takeaways from the report is the perspective on neurodevelopmental differences in Indigenous communities.

    “We heard repeatedly that children are a gift, and also come with gifts, and that people with neurodevelopmental disabilities come with unique gifts that are often under-appreciated,” he says. “Our discussion showed that prioritizing strength-based approaches and autonomy is important.”

    The report’s short- and long-term recommendations address funding to support land-based learning and community-led programs, improved services through enhanced cultural safety and access and the development of formal calls to action to meet the needs of Indigenous Peoples with neurodevelopmental differences, among other priority areas.

    But the establishment of a National Network on Indigeneity and Neurodevelopmental Disability tops the lists of recommendations.

    “The gathering highlighted that there are many people doing similar work — trying to raise awareness and acceptance and to improve services and, ultimately, quality of life for Indigenous people with neurodevelopmental differences — but we aren’t well connected,” says Busch.

    Thomson says acknowledging and understanding differences is the first step to building the network.

    “Different cultures have different stories and teachings and ideas, and the report shows only a small sample, but we can draw attention to this important intersection of unheard voices and underserved populations,” she says. “We want to start a conversation among people who are working in silos across the country and start building infrastructure to connect people of like interest.”

    As the network grows, Thomson believes the primary goal must be to continue creating opportunities for people with lived experience to share their own expertise.

    Anyone interested in contacting the team is invited to connect via the project website.

    Brock University

    Brock University is a comprehensive institution with rich academic programs and world-class research activity. With about 600 full-time faculty members and researchers, Brock’s robust academic scope offers more than 90 undergraduate and 50 graduate programs. The University’s 19,000 students come from across Canada and around the world. Brock’s renowned student experience is enriched by an emphasis on experiential education, as illustrated by community partnerships, volunteerism and one of Ontario’s largest and most successful co-op programs. Learn more at

    Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

    The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital and one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. 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 or follow @CAMHnews on X (Twitter).

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209 

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock Badgers shut out Guelph Gryphons in electric Steel Blade showdown

    MEDIA RELEASE: September 22 2023 – R0087

    Downtown St. Catharines was a cauldron of excitement as Brock University hosted an electrifying spectacle at the Meridian Centre on Friday, Sept. 22.

    In the much anticipated 23rd Steel Blade Classic, the Brock men’s hockey team triumphed over the Guelph Gryphons with a 3-0 victory, igniting the spirits of 4,500 cheering fans and clinching their 14th title in the hallmark Homecoming event.

    Captain Jared Marino, a Brock Accounting graduate student from Niagara Falls, scored twice to the roar of the crowd.

    “Winning this game is important to have some mojo going into the season,” he said. “It’s nice to get the blade back home and in our possession, so we want to keep that winning tradition alive and pass it off for the next team.”

    Newcomer Ryan Stepien opened the scoring early in the first period on a pass from Jacob Roach. The marker would stand as the game winner. Rylan Thiessen also notched an assist on Marino’s tally.

    Brock goaltender Connor Ungar earned the shutout with 16 saves in between the pipes. The Badgers registered 19 shots on goal.

    “This game is a touchstone event for Brock and U SPORTS hockey — it’s one of the best kept secrets in the country,” said head coach TJ Manastersky. “This game is unique because it’s a high-pressure situation that you can’t replicate in any other game. It’s just as intense as a playoff game and we love to compete in front of our students, staff and alumni.”

    Since Steel Blade’s inception, the Badgers have raised the coveted trophy — a sword carried by sergeants of the Upper Canada Artillery Units and Royal Artillery during the War of 1812 — a total of 14 times.

    “I think the label of the Steel Blade Classic being an exhibition game gets thrown out the window as soon as you drop the puck,” said Guelph head coach Josh Dixon. “The points don’t matter in the standings, but there’s always bragging rights. These events are great for our league and university game across the country.”

    More than $3,000 from tickets was donated to the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) Food First Program, a resource for students aimed to address the growing issues of food and health insecurity among Canadian post-secondary students.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Maryanne St. Denis, Manager, Content and Communications, Brock University or 905-246-0256  

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    Categories: Media releases