Keynote: Mental health promotion, a timeless journey

This keynote explored how Indigenous perspectives and ancestral stories can support and advance mental health promotion. Dr. Shannon Waters shared her personal story of retracing her Coast Salish ancestors’ journey to bolster mental wellbeing, strengthen her connection to the land, and vision priorities for her work as Medical Health Officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, Vancouver Island Health Authority. Dr. Waters invited participants to see climate change as both a significant threat to wellbeing and an opportunity to widen our understanding of health systems as inextricably liked to the environment.

Key messages

    • Climate change is the most significant threat to our wellbeing in this century.
    • For Indigenous Peoples, placing oneself within a multigenerational ancestral story can be a helpful way to navigate times of crisis.
    • Indigenous frameworks of health recognize that caring for our human and non-human families is central to mental health promotion.


    • Dr. Shannon Waters, Medical Health Officer for the Cowichan Valley Region at Island Health, Vancouver Island Health Authority

In the words of the speakers

… family also includes the land, the animals, the plants, the water where we come from – and this is part of our identity. And then also being part of nations or communities. So that these people that surround us and the places from which we come are an important part of our health and wellness. It is in fact, the foundation of our health system. Dr. Shannon Waters

Resources related to this session

February 28, 2023