UVic: $1.5M gift to support Indigenous mental health research

Press Release

December 14, 2021

The University of Victoria is establishing a new research chair in Indigenous mental health named after the late Chief Mungo Martin, the world-renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artist who contributed so much to the creative arts which play an integral role in shifting cultural perceptions of mental health. The research chair is funded by a $1.5-million gift from UVic political science alumnus Bruce McKean.

We are grateful for the donation that established the research chair in Mungo Martin’s name. And to use his name in what is an important and needed area of research all over Canada.

—Chief David Mungo Knox, great-grandson of the late Chief Mungo Martin

The university is thankful for this generous contribution to the clinical psychology program at UVic which will help strengthen research, teaching and community engagement in Indigenous health and well-being. UVic is grateful to Chief Martin’s family for the honour of allowing the university to use the name of their honoured relative, who worked with Indigenous nations all along the west coast to help communities reclaim traditions of carving and other art forms.

This new position, with its focus on mental health and by supporting research grounded in traditional knowledge, reflects the university’s commitment to providing community support and to being accountable to the commitments we have made to taking action on truth, respect and reconciliation.

—UVic President Kevin Hall

McKean originally suggested the name of the research chair to reflect an important memory from his childhood when he would visit Thunderbird Park with his mother.

I can still recall the scent of cedar shavings from my childhood. I would stand and stare, watching Mungo Martin work on his carvings.

—UVic alumnus Bruce McKean, whose $1.5-million gift is funding the new research chair

McKean also wanted to pay respect and give further recognition to the Mungo Martin name: “He was a leader in the rediscovery of First Nations art, culture and ceremonies.”

A few years ago, McKean deepened his connection to Indigenous ways of knowing during a conference. The experience of listening to Indigenous voices and taking part in a smudging ceremony led him to see the truth about colonialism in Canada.

“Truth and reconciliation is about Canadians reconciling ourselves to the truth about our history with Indigenous Peoples,” he adds.

The role of the chair, in UVic’s Department of Psychology, will be to develop mental-wellness research and learning that is informed by engagement with Indigenous partners and communities. The university is actively recruiting for an Indigenous scholar with a background in Indigenous knowledge and methodologies, as well as health expertise, to fill this new academic position in 2022.

The donation to establish the Chief Mungo Martin Research Chair in Indigenous Mental Health recognizes the historical and continuing impacts of colonialism on Indigenous Peoples. McKean hopes the research chair will create knowledge and leadership consistent with Indigenous values—reinforcing and advancing those values for the benefit of all Canadians. The role of the chair supports UVic’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) in particular UN SDG Goal 3 which focuses on good health and well-being. Read more about SDGs and UVic

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A media kit containing two high-resolution photos of Chief David Mungo Knox holding a carving by his late great-grandfather Chief Mungo Martin is available on Dropbox.

Media contacts

Anne MacLaurin (Social Sciences Communications) at 250-217-4259 or sosccomm@uvic.ca

Tara Sharpe (University Communications + Marketing) at tksharpe@uvic.ca


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