Patty Wellborn

Email: patty-wellborn@news.ok.ubc.ca


 

A photo of Associate Professor Christine Schreyer and fourth-year anthropology student Kayla Jakuboski.

UBCO’s Christine Schreyer works with fourth-year anthropology student Kayla Jakuboski on the Wikipedia page dedicated to Slavey Jargon.

For the past 20 years, people have turned to the online resource Wikipedia for the answer to almost anything. However, because Wikipedia is a site that can be modified by anybody, it has earned a bad reputation for being the wrong place to get the right information.

Dr. Christine Schreyer is an Associate Professor and linguistic anthropologist in UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. In her fourth-year course on language emergence, she teaches her students how Wikipedia works, why people think it’s an unreliable source and how to improve and edit Wikipedia articles.

Since 2017, her students have added 772 references to the 108 Wikipedia articles they have edited and also created nine new Wikipedia articles about minoritized—endangered and contact—languages. As an instructor, Dr. Schreyer discusses why Wikipedia deserves a second look, and why people should be comfortable adding and editing content.

Can you explain why many schools and universities tell students to stay away from Wikipedia?

Wikipedia articles are often not considered a reliable source since they can be edited by anyone and, at times, information is presented without citations. This lack of citation makes it hard for students to determine where the information comes from, if there are any biases and how to cite it in their academic papers. However, if students learn what makes a good Wikipedia article, they can use it as a starting point for further academic research.

Why do you teach people to use and edit Wikipedia? How does it help your students?

Many people use Wikipedia every day as their go-to source for quick information, but very few actually know how to read Wikipedia’s editing history or the conversations about the edits on the article on the “talk” page. By following Wiki Education tutorials and editing their articles themselves, students develop these skills along with critical thinking skills so they can judge if an article is a quality one or not. 

You’ve said your students have made impressive improvements to Wikipedia. How so?

In my courses, students write papers about minoritized languages, also known as pidgins and creoles. In many cases, very little academic research is available to the public about these languages. However, as the students have access to this information through UBC’s library, they can add these references to the Wikipedia articles, improving them immensely so that they become more reliable sources for other users.

Can you provide an example?

The article my students and I collaboratively worked on while learning the process of editing was the article formerly known as “Broken Slavey”—featuring a language spoken mainly by Indigenous Peoples in the 19th century. In class, we learned that descriptors such as “broken” are inappropriate and often come from colonial ideologies about language. We updated the article’s title to “Slavey Jargon,” which is what it is known as in the most recent academic literature. The article had a warning template on it before we began, which said, “This article includes a list of general references, but it remains largely unverified because it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations.”

This is exactly what we did. We removed plagiarism that had come from one of our own class readings, and we updated the article with more information and citations. Our work can be viewed at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavey_Jargon

How would you recommend other instructors include Wikipedia in their courses?

I would absolutely suggest that instructors use the resources and expertise from Wiki Education. The tutorials provide instructors, as well as students, the resources they need to learn about editing Wikipedia. It is immensely satisfying for students to see how they are helping improve Wikipedia together through the stats that are tracked on the class dashboard. Students can see the impact they are having in real time, in the real world.

I encourage people to take a look at the work we edited on this Wikipedia page.

The post UBCO students learn the pros and cons of Wikipedia appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.

Isolation Quarantine Covid-19 stock photo

UBCO experts discuss how society has coped during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was March 17, 2020, just on the heels of the World Health Organization declaring the as-yet-un-named virus a pandemic, that BC declared a state of emergency.

Schools were closed, offices shuttered, stores locked and people were sent home to face isolation, uncertainty and a looming sense of fear and bewilderment. And now Zoom calls, masks, vaccines and mandates have become part of everyday life across the country.

How has society coped? What has been learned? Has anything changed?

Long before Dr. Bonnie Henry suggested people be kind to each other, Dr. John-Tyler Binfet, an Associate Professor with the Okanagan School of Education, was making the study of kindness part of his daily routine. Dr. Binfet is joined by six other UBC Okanagan experts, who can field questions ranging from vaccine equity, online shopping trends, the importance of exercise and the impact of so much screen time on children.

Dr. Binfet, Director of the Centre For Mindful Engagement and Director of Building Academic Retention Through K-9s

Availability: Noon, Wednesday and all of Thursday, PST
johntyler.binfet@ubc.ca

Dr. Binfet’s areas of research include the conceptualizations of kindness in children and adolescents, measuring kindness in schools, canine-assisted interventions and assessment of therapy dogs. His new book written during the pandemic, Cultivating Kindness, will be available this summer.

Related to the pandemic, Dr. Binfet can discuss:

  • University student wellbeing
  • Being kind
  • Why kindness matters

Kevin Chong, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies

Availability: Wednesday and Thursday, 9 to 11 am PST
kevin.chong@ubc.ca

Chong teaches creative writing, fiction, creative nonfiction, literary journalism, dramatic writing and different writing styles including short story, memoir, personal essay, and lyric essay. He is the author of six books, including The Plague, and wrote a book during the pandemic when the public reading of his play was cancelled due to COVID-19. Dr. Chong also established an online antiracist book club during the pandemic.

Related to the pandemic, Chong can discuss:

  • Writer’s block
  • Online book clubs
  • Antiracist associations

Mahmudur Fatmi, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering

Availability: Wednesday, most hours and Thursday, 8:30 am to noon PST
mahmudur.fatmi@ubc.ca

Dr. Fatmi is a transportation modelling expert. He can talk about how people’s travel and online activities such as work-from-home and online shopping activities have changed during the pandemic, and the implications of these changes.

Related to the pandemic, Dr. Fatmi can discuss:

  • Working from home
  • Changes to transit during the pandemic
  • Online shopping trends

Ross Hickey, Associate Professor, Faculty of Management and Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Availability: Wednesday, 2 to 2:30 pm PST and Thursday, 2:30to 3:30 pm PST
ross.hickey@ubc.ca

Dr. Hickey is an economist who specializes in public finance, fiscal policy, government expenditure and taxation. Related to the pandemic, Dr. Hickey can speak about:

  • Inflation

Susan Holtzman, Associate Professor, Psychology, Irving K Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Availability: Thursday, 9 am to noon PST
susan.holtzman@ubc.ca

Dr. Holtzman conducts research in health psychology with a special interest in stress and coping, close relationships, depression and social relationships in the digital age. Related to the pandemic, Holtzman can discuss:

  • perceived increase in screen time for young children
  • digital relationships
  • breaking or keeping digital habits after two years of screen time

Jonathan Little, Associate Professor, School of Health and Exercise Sciences

Availability: Wednesday and Thursday, 9 to 11 am PST
jonathan.little@ubc.ca

Dr. Little’s main research interest is on how to optimize exercise and nutritional strategies to prevent and treat health issues including Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and chronic inflammatory conditions. He is also involved in interdisciplinary research within the Airborne Disease Transmission Research Cluster around mitigating risk of aerosol transmission in health-care settings.

Related to the pandemic, Dr. Little can discuss:

  • Physical activity/exercise during COVID-19
  • Impact of exercise and lifestyle on immune function
  • Aerosols and COVID-19 transmission

Katrina Plamondon, Assistant Professor School of Nursing

Availability: Wednesday, various times in the afternoon PST, Thursday, 7 to 8 am, 11:30 am to noon, 2 to 3 pm PST
katrina.plamondon@ubc.ca

Dr. Plamondon’s research focuses on questions of how to advance equity action and vaccine equity. Related to the pandemic, Dr. Plamondon can discuss:

  • Populism and social movements (e.g., convoy) and what this has to do with equity and rights
  • Vaccine equity, particularly the relationship between global vaccine equity and how we can navigate the pandemic
  • Equity considerations as we transition out of pandemic restrictions (e.g., lifting mask restrictions)
  • Equity impacts and health systems considerations

The post UBCO experts discuss what’s changed after two years of COVID-19 appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.

Ketamine in a syringe

Researchers from UBC Okanagan and the University of Exeter have identified ketamine as a potentially powerful tool in the fight against mental illness.

First manufactured more than 50 years ago, ketamine is a fast-acting dissociative anesthetic often used in veterinary and emergency medicine. Ketamine also has a history of being an illicit party drug.

Now, ketamine is getting a closer look.

Researchers from UBC Okanagan and the University of Exeter have identified ketamine as a potentially powerful tool in the fight against mental illness.

In a recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the research team found ketamine to have significant anti-depressant and anti-suicidal effects. They also found evidence that suggests its benefits don’t stop there.

Led by Psychology Professor Dr. Zach Walsh and doctoral student Joey Rootman—both based in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences—the research team arrived at this conclusion after analyzing more than 150 worldwide studies on the effects of sub-anesthetic ketamine doses for the treatment of mental illness. The study was co-led by Professor Celia Morgan and doctoral student Merve Mollaahmetoglu from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

“We found strong evidence that indicates ketamine provides rapid and robust anti-depressant and anti-suicidal effects, but the effects were relatively short-lived,” explains Rootman. “However, repeated dosing appeared to have the potential to increase the duration of positive effects.”

Beyond these results, the study provides evidence that suggests ketamine may be helpful in the treatment of other disorders, including eating disorders, problematic substance use, post-traumatic stress and anxiety—though the evidence in these areas is scarce.

“What our research provides is an up-to-date overview and synthesis of where the knowledge on ketamine is at right now,” explains Rootman. “Our results signal that ketamine may indeed have a broader spectrum of potential applications in psychiatric treatment—and that tells us that more investigation is needed.”

This study serves as a foundation for fellow researchers looking to design ketamine-related projects and offers valuable data for clinicians considering using ketamine with their patients.

The results also help to satisfy the public’s appetite for information on innovative and emerging psychiatric treatments, says Dr. Walsh, explaining the review provides a relatively compact document with evidence regarding which ketamine treatments may be helpful for diverse diagnoses.

“As many as one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness this year, and the reality is that existing treatments don’t work for everyone,” he says. “As a result, many Canadians are curious about new approaches to help with these serious conditions.”

Overall, while Dr. Walsh acknowledges research into other treatment areas is just beginning, he finds the preliminary evidence encouraging.

“We need a lot more information on how these interventions could work—for example, administering the drug is only a part of treatment. We need to figure out what amount and type of psychotherapy would best compliment the drug intervention to really maximize potential benefits,” he explains. “With that being said, it is a truly exciting time for ketamine research. If it can deliver the relief that early evidence suggests it can, this could be among the most significant developments in mental health treatment in decades.”

The post UBCO researchers explore therapeutic uses of ketamine appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.

A person stepping on a scale to measure their body weight.

A new UBCO study found that an approach that does not require self-monitoring produced significant weight loss and other physical and psychological improvements.

Every New Year, people from around the world vow to improve their lives by setting resolutions.

Though well-intentioned, recent media reports suggest about 65 per cent of resolution-makers abandon their new habits within six weeks.

Though failure can be the most common outcome, one UBC Okanagan researcher says for those struggling with obesity, working to improve one’s health is a goal that shouldn’t be left behind.

Dr. Lesley Lutes is a Professor of Psychology in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Director of UBCO’s Centre for Obesity and Well-Being Research Excellence. She says no matter whether a person thinks they have failed, or what date the calendar says, today is the ideal time to make a change.

Dr. Lutes has dedicated much of her career to researching weight management strategies. In 2018, she and her colleagues from America’s University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, were awarded $1.7 million to study a comprehensive weight management program compared to do-it-yourself (DIY) dieting strategies. The research partially focused on using a new minimal monitoring system which is a part of the commercial Weight Watchers Freestyle program.

With the study now concluded, and preliminary results under review, Dr. Lutes discusses the study and shares advice on how to make a lasting change.

Do you have a sense of how significant the obesity problem is globally?

Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity has doubled in 73 countries and increased in many others. This is concerning because we know that an elevated body mass index is associated with numerous illnesses including cardiovascular disease and diabetes—and there are important linkages between obesity and cancer—which may ultimately translate into years of life lost.

Why did you decide to pursue this research?

We’ve long understood that self-monitoring is a key component to any weight-loss program, but it can also be very challenging to accomplish. We all have busy schedules. While food monitoring is a significant predictor of weight loss, traditional self-monitoring strategies are incredibly burdensome, requiring detailed food journals and measuring individual portions. Even when an effort is made to mitigate these burdens,engagement still inevitably decreases over time—almost going away altogether. And the consequence isweight regain over time.

We built this study on previous research published in 2020 where we found an approach that does not require self-monitoring of all foods and beverages produced significant weight loss and other physical and psychological improvements. That monitoring system is now a part of the Weight Watchers’ Freestyle program.

As more people are trying to improve their health and wellbeing, we wanted to compare this program to other weight management strategies and programs used by people, side by side, to help us understand which was more effective in real-world settings.

What is the Weight Watchers Freestyle program and what do your study results show in terms of its effectiveness?

Freestyle is a weight management program aimed at giving folks a little more flexibility in their monitoring. While it still uses Weight Watchers’ signature points system, it offers an expanded selection of zero points foods like vegetables, fruits and eggs—which means these foods can be consumed in addition to one’s daily point allotment without needing to be measured.

We found that among our sample of adults living with weight or obesity challenges, partial dietary monitoring, like the Freestyle program, resulted in greater weight loss compared to other DIY strategies. Greater weight loss for people in all three countries was recorded at both the three- and 12-month check-ins, which shows us there is more longevity in the program.

Why do you think partial dietary monitoring was more successful, and how can these results help people who are looking to embark on a healthier lifestyle?

Losing weight is hard, both physically and emotionally. I think any program that takes that into account and tries to support participants by providing them some flexibility is really helpful. It provides some sense of freedom in what can otherwise feel like a very strict one-size-fits-all approach where you either “succeed” or “fail.”

I’d also like to remind people that support matters. Change is hard, because life is hard. Be patient with yourself, take it one day at a time, and invest in people and things that are supporting you in improving your health and wellbeing.

A procession of UBCO faculty members

UBCO’s Jeannette Armstrong has many roles on campus, from marshalling students at convocation, to being a Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy.

Putting an Okanagan lens on the trauma of colonization on local Indigenous populations has led to national recognition for UBC Okanagan’s Dr. Jeannette Armstrong.

Dr. Armstrong admits she never planned on pursuing a life in academia. After graduating from university with her bachelor’s degree, she worked for local Indigenous organizations before coming to the realization that she could make the most change from inside the academy.

She returned to university, earning both her master’s and doctorate, and began teaching Indigenous Studies in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. After many years serving as an associate professor, while also writing, researching and being active in her community, Dr. Armstrong was recently elected to the Royal Society of Canada.

The Royal Society of Canada is a scholarly body founded in 1882 by John Campbell, the ninth Duke of Argyll. Its purpose is to promote Canadian research and recognize those who have made remarkable contributions in their respective fields.

What does this acknowledgement from the Royal Society of Canada mean to you?

To be honest, I’ve never been someone looking for recognition. I care deeply about my work and my focus has always been on how my research can help support the Syilx Okanagan Community. With that being said, I am honoured that my peers from across the country see the value in the work I do, and chose to elect me. I’m really looking forward to engaging with fellow scholars in the society. For those who don’t know a lot about the organization—it’s very active in addressing the most critical issues facing Canadians today, and I am incredibly excited to be a part of it.

The society only elects those who have made remarkable contributions in their fields. Can you discuss your area of research and how it came to be?

My research began organically—after university, I began working in my community alongside members who were not academics, but had so much knowledge in regards to what parts of our history were erased and what happened during those early years of colonization. I really wanted to try and identify what the legacy of this trauma was from an Okanagan perspective, and figure out what our people lost.

I was persistent—I just wouldn’t leave it alone. There was this huge gap between what non-Indigenous people knew about us, and what we knew about ourselves. I wanted to ensure our students were learning the true history, so that’s what really motivated me to return to university.

Aside from my own research, another motivation was that I wanted to attract Syilx and BC interior Salish graduate students to join me and research their own histories, cultures and languages. Developing these relationships is really what I’ve enjoyed most—working in collaboration to advance knowledge in our schooling and health systems, and bringing awareness to the legal history related to administration and management of our resources.

In addition to being a researcher and an associate professor of Indigenous Studies—you’re also the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy. How does this role fit in with your research?

It’s very intertwined. To give a bit of background, the chiefs of our seven reserves in the Okanagan Nation Alliance and UBCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Indigenous Knowledge Protocol Agreement in 2020—this, to me, was really the first of its kind in Canada. The agreement meant that anything classified as Okanagan or related to our history, knowledge or culture would be appropriate and truthful.

My role as the CRC acts as a bridge to ensure the MOU is being respected and implemented correctly in all disciplines, specifically when conducting research that is needed by our nation. It’s a commitment to reciprocity—we do our research and give it back so the community can benefit from it—this process for me is sacrosanct. If I do nothing else in my life, it’s this idea of giving back knowledge through research that I am most proud of.

The disturbing events of 2021, including the discovery of 215 buried children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, came as a shock to many Canadians. Why is it important we know the truth about Canada’s earlier years—and how is public education connected to reconciliation?

While I don’t speak for anyone who is a legacy of trauma, I think the public must understand the foundation of oppression our country was founded on. Not only colonization, but socially and legally, too. There’s a continuously strong position by Canada that Indigenous rights are something that can be manipulated to enhance their understanding of the wider society. Moving forward, we need to elect leaders who can resist this narrative and help educate the public on our legacy.

I look forward to contributing to a dialogue about how this can be accomplished with my new colleagues at the Royal Society of Canada. Reconciliation cannot be achieved without the public knowing and acknowledging the truth—no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

A graphic that says Life Raft Debate

What: Fourth annual Life Raft Debate
Who: UBC professors debate to win a seat in a time machine and change history
When: Wednesday, January 26, beginning at 7 pm
Venue: Online, virtual event

Once again, UBC Okanagan professors are being called upon to share their expertise and help save the world. But this year, it involves going back in time to right the wrongs of humanity.

The annual Life Raft Debate is a fun way to showcase the talents of professors by using an “end-of-the-world” premise, explains Lyndsey Chesham, Society of Scholars Program Assistant and a fourth-year microbiology student. The professors must do their best to sway the audience to earn the last seat on the life raft. However, this year it’s a seat in a time machine.

“For this year’s debate, humans have made an irrevocable mistake leading to our demise,” Chesham says. “Our only option is an experimental time machine capable of sending someone on a one-way trip to the first known human civilization.”

The catch? There is only one seat in the time machine. Not only must the time traveller win the debate, they must—without any modern technology—be able to influence society to not make the same mistakes. It’s up to them to prevent the downfall of the human race.

“Our traveller must assert the importance of their discipline in order to lead the ancient society, fix the mistakes of the past, and lead us to a brighter, more promising future,” adds Chesham. “But we must also question if it is even worth sending anyone back at all. It’s up to our audience to decide who we send, or if we even bother.”

Competing for the chance to time travel include chemistry’s Dr. Tamara Freeman, creative writing’s Michael V. Smith, engineering’s Dr. Vicki Komisar, psychology’s Dr. Liane Gabora and management’s Tamara Ebl. Associate Dean of Research Dr. Dean Greg Garrard will play the role of devil’s advocate, suggesting no one deserves to go back in time.

After all the words are spoken, the audience—using Zoom technology—will decide if someone does go back and restart society. And who it will be.

“The Society of Scholars brought this student-led event to UBCO to give students a chance to get to know their professors through the scope of a light-hearted and fun event,” adds Chesham. “Our debaters get very passionate and it is wonderful to see the professors speak about their life’s work so enthusiastically.”

New this year will be opening remarks from UBC President Santa Ono and closing remarks from UBCO’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Lesley Cormack.

The Life Raft Debate takes place Wednesday, January 26 at 7 pm. It is a free, virtual presentation and follows with a question and answer session. To register or find out more, visit: students.ok.ubc.ca/life-raft

Female Scientist Examining Cannabis

UBCO researchers are looking for insight about the impacts of cannabis use among Indigenous people since cannabis was legalized three years ago.

As Canada passes the three-year mark since cannabis became legal, an Indigenous-led research team at UBC Okanagan is looking at cannabis use among Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.

The team has partnered with Woodland Cree First Nation and Indigenous Bloom—an Indigenous cooperative of cannabis retail and cultivation—for insight into the impacts of cannabis use since legalization. The study will examine motives of use, especially when it comes to pain management or substitution of other substances, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Farrell, an adjunct professor in UBCO’s psychology department, says the predominantly Indigenous research team hopes to put a new lens on the motives for cannabis use and its potential harm-reduction benefits among Indigenous populations. She has spent the last several years working to advance cultural safety, the process of truth and reconciliation as well as supporting improved health and wellness outcomes for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples within academic health research and health-care settings.

Dr. Farrell works with co-principal investigator Dr. Zach Walsh, a psychology professor in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He describes this Indigenous-led research as among the first of its kind in Canada.

Dr. Farrell discusses why this study, Cannabis Use among Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island (CUTI), is unique and why this research matters.

CUTI is looking at the motivational use of cannabis among Indigenous Peoples. Can you explain why this is important?

To date, much of the research on cannabis use has centred on non-Indigenous populations in what is currently called “Canada,” and historically Indigenous Peoples have been excluded in cannabis research.

Ensuring equity and inclusion in cannabis research is important. When it comes to understanding motives for cannabis use among Indigenous Peoples—including assessing both risk for problematic use and potential benefits of therapeutic use for symptoms of chronic pain, anxiety, sleep and substitution—there is much to learn that can support health and wellness in Indigenous communities and inform public health programming.

Previous research has looked at cannabis use as an alternative to the use of other substances. Is your study contemplating this?

Absolutely. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing increases in alcohol use and a record-high number of opioid-related overdoses and overdose deaths in the Canadian general population. We are battling multiple public health emergencies right now and it’s important we know about the impacts of COVID-19 and patterns of substance use in Indigenous populations, and whether as in previous research, cannabis is having a harm reduction benefit.

How is this study unique?

This work is in partnership with Woodland Cree First Nation and Indigenous Bloom, which is a co-operative of First Nations and Indigenous Peoples. It’s also Indigenous-led with a predominantly self-identified Indigenous research team. Because of this, we’re able to put a different lens on our approaches to this work and ensure we’re not only supporting self-determinism in the health and wellness of Indigenous Peoples, but also creating research and mentorship opportunities for self-identified Indigenous undergraduate and graduate students at UBC.

How can people get involved?

If you self-identify as Indigenous—that is, First Nations (status/non-status), Inuk or Métis—are 18 years or older, use cannabis, and are interested in learning more or participating in the CUTI project, please reach out to walsh.lab@ubc.ca

A photo of psilocybin mushrooms

A new UBCO study finds people are using small doses of psychedelics not for recreational purposes, but to combat anxiety and depression.

An international study led by UBC Okanagan researchers suggests repeated use of small doses of psychedelics such as psilocybin or LSD can be a valuable tool for those struggling with anxiety and depression.

The study, recently published in Nature: Scientific Reports, demonstrated fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and greater feelings of wellbeing among individuals who reported consuming psychedelics in small quantities, or microdosing, compared to those who did not.

Microdosing involves regular self-administration of psychedelic substances in amounts small enough to not impair normal cognitive functioning.

Considering this is the largest psychedelic microdosing study published to date, the results are encouraging, says UBCO doctoral student and lead author Joseph Rootman.

“In total, we followed more than 8,500 people from 75 countries using an anonymous self-reporting system—about half were following a microdosing regimen and half were not,” Rootman explains. “In comparing microdosers and non-microdosers, there was a clear association between microdosing and fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress—which is important given the high prevalence of these conditions and the substantial suffering they cause.”

The study is also the first to systematically examine the practice of stacking, or combining microdoses of psychedelics with other substances like niacin, lions mane mushrooms and cacao, which some believe work in conjunction to maximize benefit.

Rootman works with Dr. Zach Walsh, a psychology professor in UBCO’s Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dr. Walsh says it’s an exciting time for research in this area.

“These findings highlight adults who are microdosing to treat their mental health conditions and enhance their wellbeing—rather than simply to get high,” says Dr. Walsh. “We have an epidemic of mental health problems, with existing treatments that don’t work for everyone. We need to follow the lead of patients who are taking these initiatives to improve their wellbeing and reduce suffering.”

Study co-author Kalin Harvey is the chief technology officer of Quantified Citizen, a mobile health research platform. He says this study highlights the potential of citizen science.

“The use of citizen science allows us to examine the effects of behaviours that are difficult to study in the lab due to regulatory challenges and stigma associated with the now discredited ‘war on drugs.’”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians personally experience a mental health problem or illness each year. This is one of the many reasons Dr. Walsh says conducting innovative psychological research is imperative.

“These cross-sectional findings are promising and highlight the need for further investigation to better determine the impacts of factors like dosage and stacking,” explains Dr. Walsh.

“While the data is growing to support the use of psychedelics like psilocybin in large doses to treat depression and addiction—our data also helps to expand our understanding of how psychedelics may also help in smaller doses.”

A photo of the the Similkameen River

The Similkameen River is one of eight regions that are part of the Canadian portion of the Columbia River Basin. Photo credit Cindy Boehm.

What: One River, Ethics Matter (OREM) conference
Who: UBCO’s Jeannette Armstrong, ʔaʔsiwɬ Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, traditional knowledge keepers, environmental experts, academic and religious scholars
When: November 17 and 18, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm both days
Venue: Virtually via Zoom

As the world’s leaders convened at COP26 to discuss actions to address climate change, plans were finalized in the Okanagan for the annual One River, Ethics Matter (OREM) conference taking place later this month.

The 2021 One River Ethics Matter conference is hosted by the Okanagan Nation Alliance and UBC Okanagan. This will be the eighth annual event and it will focus on the Indigenous-led work of the Syilx nation with kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓—restoring ntytyix (salmon)—to the Okanagan and Upper Columbia Rivers.

The main objective of the two-day conference is to discuss the review process now underway to modernize the 57-year old Columbia River Treaty. Participants include traditional ecological knowledge keepers, environmental experts, along with academic and religious scholars from both sides of the 49th parallel.

Dr. Jeannette Armstrong, a Syilx knowledge keeper and UBCO associate professor who was recently appointed a Royal Society of Canada Scholar, will be one of several speakers at the event. Other leaders and panel experts include Grand Chief ʔaʔsiwɬ Stewart Phillip, who is president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis, University of Idaho Professor Emerita Barbara Cosens, along with Indigenous youth experts, historians, biologists, policy officials and representatives from the Roman Catholic Church.

Pauline Terbasket, executive director of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, has been participating in the OREM conference since the first session in Spokane in 2014.

“These gatherings have been opportunities to feel the reality and impacts of colonization upon Indigenous Nations and the devastating impacts of the Columbia River Treaty. They also provide an opportunity to share stories that are familiar to all tribes along the Columbia River,” says Terbasket. “As the Indigenous people of the Columbia Basin, we are all salmon people, tied to the river for sustenance and to carry our responsibilities to care for all our lands, resources and peoples as we have since time immemorial.”

The OREM conference series is an ethics consultation process for improving the quality of ethical decision-making for the Columbia River.

Lesley Cormack, UBC Okanagan’s deputy vice-chancellor and vice-principal, will provide opening remarks at the event.

“The lasting and far-reaching effects of both colonization and climate change have taken a toll on the Columbia River basin, as with other natural environments around the world,” says Cormack. “Now, more than ever, it is essential that we come together to make thoughtful, ethical decisions that will support healthy and sustainable environments as well as truth and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”

About OREM

Salmon have been blocked from reaching Canada’s Upper Columbia River after the Grand Coulee Dam was built in Washington State some 80 years ago. In 1964, Canada and the United States implemented the Columbia River Treaty to develop the hydroelectric potential of the Columbia River Basin and to manage flood risk.

Grounded in respectful dialogue the conference is a part of the Ethics and Treaty Project, which aims to increase public understanding of the Columbia River Treaty and provide an interdisciplinary forum to discuss shared stewardship of the river in the face of climate change. Alternating between the United States and Canada, the conference is jointly hosted by an Indigenous sovereign nation and an academic institution.

The 2021 OREM conference is free and open to the public. More information can be found at: riverethics.org

People can register for the event at: ubc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_aKQEqnHxQ3y7L0TIMqb52A

A photo of Marion Buller

Marion Buller, retired judge and former chief commissioner of Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

What: Redefining Community—an evening with Marion Buller, as part of UBCO’s Distinguished Speaker Series
Who: Marion Buller, Indigenous Rights Advocate, retired judge and former Chief Commissioner of Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
When: Thursday, October 28 beginning at 7 pm
Venue: Zoom webinar

Four weeks ago, Canadians from coast to coast were given an opportunity to pause, reflect and honour the lost children and survivors of the Indian Residential School System, their families and communities.

Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history, and ongoing intergenerational impacts of the residential school system, is a vital component of the reconciliation process—a process UBC Okanagan committed to in 2019 with the signing of its declaration in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

On Thursday, October 28, UBCO’s Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences welcomes retired judge and former chief commissioner of Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Ms. Marion Buller as the next distinguished speaker.

Ms. Buller has been a leader in Indigenous rights advocacy throughout her career. A member of the Mistawasis First Nation, she was the first Indigenous woman to be appointed to the Provincial Court of British Columbia.

In this informative, thought-provoking talk, Ms. Buller will share her journey into law, what was uncovered during the MMIWG inquiry, and discuss the role of relationships, trust-building and community in moving truth and reconciliation forward.

The Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ Distinguished Speaker Series brings compelling speakers to the homes of Okanagan residents to share their unique perspectives on issues that affect the region,  country and world.

This virtual event is free and open to all, but online pre-registration is required.

To register, visit: speakers.ok.ubc.ca