About Kim Matheson

Carleton Neuroscience Prof. Kim Matheson, the recently appointed Chair in Culture and Gender Mental Health at the university and The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, is striving to promote mental wellness in culturally marginalized groups, with a focus on youth in northwestern Ontario’s Indigenous communities.

“We don’t help anyone by going into a community and assuming we know what’s best,” says Matheson, who has a long history of partnering with community-based organizations to research and address the social determinants of mental health. “My work is a chance to build new bridges, to listen and learn how we can contribute to the community’s aspirations for their youth, and to harness community strengths and collective action to bring about change for disadvantaged groups.”

Matheson joined Carleton’s Department of Psychology in 1990 and has served in numerous capacities at the university since then, including Vice-President (Research and International) and, currently, director of the Canadian Health Adaptations, Innovations, and Mobilization (CHAIM) Centre.

Her largest ongoing project is the Indigenous Youth Futures Partnership, a collaboration with First Nations organizations in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation region. Funded with $2.5 million over seven years from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the project is bringing together western and Indigenous approaches to develop multiple pathways for First Nations youth to flourish.

“Indigenous people have shown tenacity and resilience in the face of adversity, but they continue to face overwhelming challenges,” says Matheson. “It is the responsibility of every Canadian to work toward reconciliation, so it’s my hope that the work we’re doing in partnership with First Nations communities and organizations contributes to the healing and reconciliation process.”

Research from the partnership aims to understand the priorities of communities and how to map these onto multiple interventions that take a holistic approach to community wellness and build a foundation for youth to flourish. “We’re a very large interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral group,” says Matheson, “and together, we hope to develop a set of tools and inform policies that enable youth to thrive within their communities. We want to get a broad sense of what services and supports already exist, and what the challenges are, and then we can work together to coordinate a response.”

  • Chair in Culture and Gender Mental Health, The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research and Carleton University
  • Project Director, Indigenous Youth Futures Partnership
  • Director, Canadian Health Adaptations, Innovations, and Mobilization (CHAIM) Centre, Carleton University