WP Annual Conference Recap

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This year’s Annual Conference – our 25th – was back live and in person. Together, we explored topics that matter for Indigenous wellbeing, including mental/emotional, workplace, and financial health. The day was full of insightful conversations, expert workshops, and engaging keynote speakers. 

For those of you who attended, we hope you enjoyed the content and presenters. For those that were unable to attend this year, we hope you can make it next year! Here’s a recap of the day’s events. 

Our first speaker was Dr. Marybeth Fortune from Homewood Health. She gave a great overview of what it means to be a caregiver today, both in terms of the commitment and resources it takes, and its impact on us as caregivers. We looked at the social determinants of health, the dynamic process of aging, common challenges, and coping strategies. Remember the 4Rs – Respect, Realistic Expectations, Respite, and Recuperation. To add supports from Homewood Health to your Benefits plan, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Next, we spent some time with Dr. Karyn Gordon of DK Leadership. We learned that 50% of employees currently report feeling burnt-out, and other critical workplace health statistics. She provided insights, tools and techniques from her Success Intelligence program about how to improve our workplace wellbeing. Creating margins (time and space) and not overscheduling ourselves, minute refuels and other self-care breaks, and remembering to laugh with others were some of the practices she recommends. To learn more, WP Members can use our discount to additional Success Intelligence courses. 

Sharing her HR perspective on employee wellbeing, we learned from Nicole Cathcart, Director of Human Resources at Six Nations of the Grand River, about how to support and get the best from your team. She outlined the importance and benefits of employee wellbeing, the components of wellbeing and mental wellness, mental health in the workplace, support and prevention, and creating psychological safety. We were reminded that wellness incorporates all aspects of a person’s life – career, social, financial, physical, community – and that employees are more than the work they do. Are you ready to stop multitasking and prioritize intentional focused work instead? 

After a great lunch, good conversations, and some exciting prize giveaways, we jumped into the afternoon. 

Although discussing some serious topics, Dr. Anthony Hutchinson led us through them with wry wit and plenty of healthy laughs. In order to re-think health in a post-COVID world, we reviewed how we understood and defined health pre-pandemic, what happened to our views on health during COVID, and how we might re-think health now and what the implications of that could be. Looking in-depth at the social determinants of health, he shared his expertise on what works, what didn’t, and why. Ultimately, we recognized that stress is the underlying cause of all illness, and that Indigenous people are two times as likely to be admitted to hospitals than non-Indigenous people in Canada – which is directly related to the social determinants of health. And what’s missing? Dr. H. believes we need to find a place for the spiritual in determining our whole health.

Following this powerful discussion, the WP Team shared an update on our firm and initiatives, including joining People Corporation and the development of our National Indigenous Practice. We took a look at the current benefits marketplace, employment insurance updates, and responsible investment strategies, including the Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) model.  

Our final speakers, Shari Loewen and Liz Bolton from People First HR Services, a division of People Corporation, led an interactive session on respectful workplaces. We discovered that the majority of us have experienced disrespect in the workplace at some point in our careers, and how that negatively impacts our lives and workplace relationships. We then learned to recognize the characteristics of a respectful workplace, and why it’s important, as well as the steps we can take to be proactive in creating respectful work environments, and the risks of not dealing with issues as they arise. Ultimately, we learned that a respectful workplace supports the physical, psychological, and social wellbeing of all employees. 

Through these interconnected topics and the discussions they generated, participants came away from the day feeling informed, connected, and empowered to better support their teams. We’re proud to represent First Nations and Indigenous employers and are grateful we’ve been welcomed as guests in your communities. Thank you for allowing us to host you and making our 25th Annual Conference one of the best yet! 

If you have questions about our conference, would like to connect with a presenter or to receive a sample of any of the material covered, please contact us. We would be more than happy to help. 

And make sure to stay connected for information about or 26th Annual Conference. Our team is already working on next year’s event!