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Dr. Yury Sumarokov, head of the department of international cooperation at Northern State Medical University in Arkhangelsk, Russia, is visiting the U of M as part of a project that partners the College of Rehabilitation Sciences with several First Nations communities in Manitoba.

Speaker to discuss suicide among Russia’s Indigenous people

March 26, 2019 — 

On April 3, students, staff and faculty at both the Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses will have an opportunity to hear from a leading researcher on suicide and suicide prevention among arctic Russia’s Indigenous people.

Dr. Yury Sumarokov, head of the department of international cooperation at Northern State Medical University in Arkhangelsk, Russia, is visiting the University of Manitoba as part of a project that partners the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences with several First Nations communities to bring physical therapy, occupational therapy and respiratory therapy services to the communities based on their individual needs.

As part of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences’ Illuminate Speaker Series, Sumarokov will do two presentations at the U of M on April 3. He will speak at Robson Hall at the Fort Garry campus at 9:00 a.m. and at Apotex Centre on the Bannatyne campus at 1:30 p.m.

Sumarokov has been researching this topic for over a decade. He first became interested in it while working as a rural practitioner in northern Russia in the 1990s when the country saw a growth in suicide rates in Indigenous and other communities.

“The Indigenous people have always experienced it, even in the last 10 years as suicide rates are going down in Russia,” he said. “We have a decrease in suicides in Indigenous communities as well, but it is not going down equally.”

His visit includes meeting with the communities that are part of the College’s “Kiga mamo anokimin onji minoayawin” partnership, which translated from Ojibway means “We will work together for health and wellness.”

The partnership currently includes the communities of Bloodvein First Nation, Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Misipawistik Cree Nation, Lake Manitoba First Nation, Little Saskatchewan First Nation, Norway House Cree Nation and Pinaymootang First Nation.

On March 26, Sumarokov spoke to leaders from those communities at a College of Rehabilitation Sciences retreat in Winnipeg. His two-week visit also includes stops in many of those communities, as well as Thompson and The Pas. See video from the retreat below.

Dr. Reg Urbanowski, dean of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, said Sumarokov’s visit has been planned for a while, after meeting with the communities to discuss their needs.

“We brought Yury in to talk about suicide, suicide prevention and mental health in First Nation communities, because when we went out to the communities they saw this as being a very important topic,” he said. “A lot of communities will come together, and that’s what this is about. It’s not about being the end piece, it’s about starting the conversation.”

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