A first of its kind in Canada research centre is being developed at Vancouver Island University (VIU), aiming to combine Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.
It will be called the Naut sa mawt Centre for Psychedelic Research and the university says it will combine multiple ways of knowing for development of psychedelic research and programming.
The phrase means “working together as one mind and spirit,” according to VIU elder Geraldine Manson.
It is being created by Dr. Shannon Dames and is co-led by Dr. Georgina Martin and Dr. Vivian Tsang along with the manager of research and knowledge exchange of the First Nation Health Authority Mathew Fleury.
While the centre is under construction, it is already supporting psilocybin studies, MDMA treatment studies and Ketamine-assisted therapy studies for fire fighters with PTSD.
According to Dr. Dames, the studies will aim to collaborate with Indigenous knowledge of psychedelics.
“We recognize that Indigenous healing systems and Indigenous research methodologies have dealt with the complexities of human health from a holistic perspective since time immemorial,” said Dames.
“Unlike conventional western therapy, psychedelics involve a lowering of the typical defences of the nervous system and ego, to access areas of oneself that require a holistic and integrative perspective. As a result, there are additional safety considerations.”
Martin adds the goal is to “promote reconciliation through shared intentions, authentic and equitable relationships guided by protocols that prevent repeating historical wrongs.”
Fleury adds the health authority is looking forward to partnering with the university in the future.
“By braiding together Indigenous and Western ways of knowing, our work will promote a wholistic understanding of the necessary elements of psychedelic medicine that will optimize health and wellness outcomes for our communities.”