A journey in resilience: Helping refugees as they cope with trauma

A journey in resilience
Photo, from left: Daniel Derivois, Psychologist and Professor at the University of Bourgogne Franche-Comté (France); Child Psychiatrist Dr. Cécile Rousseau, Scientific Director of the Sherpa Research Centre; Garine Papazian-Zohrabian, Psychologist and Professor at the University of Montreal.

The paths that refugees follow can often be arduous, so our CIUSSS is exploring paths within health care that will help ease them along their way to recovery.

“The recent increase in refugees in Quebec has led to a growing need for health care that is culturally sensitive and specific to the context of forced migration,” says Dr. Cécile Rousseau, Scientific Director of the Sherpa Research Centre. Dr. Rousseau was a guest speaker at a two-day symposium hosted in October by the Center of Expertise on the Well-being and Physical Health of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in collaboration with the Sherpa Research Centre. The panel of guests delved into the role of health care in helping refugees to settle into a more harmonious existence in our province.

Discussions centered around:
• resilience pathways
• creative expression activities for refugee children and adolescents
• the trauma of gendre-based violence
• best practices and promising interventions for refugees
• vicarious trauma experienced by healthcare workers

The symposium bridged the gap between practice and research by promoting the sharing of best practices, knowledge transfer and ties between professionals.

“The asylum seekers are the most fragile people one can think of,” says Associate CEO Francine Dupuis, who delivered opening remarks at the symposium. “They have lost everything—family, friends, belongings, country. They have experienced war, violence, extreme poverty, and disease. It is our obligation to acknowledge their plight, and to accompany them on their path to recovery to the best of our ability, and without judgement. We are all human beings, we’ve simply been more fortunate.”