Mental Health Consultant, Brenda Reynolds Consulting and Counselling
Brenda Reynolds is a social worker of Saulteaux heritage, who grew up on Fishing Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan. In high school, she was one of 100 students from across Canada invited to attend the Forum for Young Canadians, a youth education program encouraging the understanding of the role and function of the national government while engaging with national leaders on Parliament Hill. After completing her Bachelor of Indian Social Work, she worked at Gordon’s Residential School providing counselling services and educating students about abuse. Here, in 1988, she learned of the sexual abuse of seventeen girls by a staff member. The disclosures led to the first litigated case of sexual abuse involving an Indian Residential School staff member in Saskatchewan and Canada and the largest class action settlement in Canadian history to date, as well as the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, an agreement between the Indigenous people who attended the schools, the Canadian government and churches who operated them. Since that time she has continued to work with survivors and their communities, addressing the intergenerational trauma resulting from these horrifying experiences.
Brenda’s early career as a child welfare worker in Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities lent itself to her progression as an educator on the history and impacts of Indian Residential Schools. Her experience further propelled her into the development, facilitation and training of trauma-informed health care professionals within Health Canada and other federal governments, First Nations, Tribal Councils, Alberta Health Services, non-government agencies, and Saskatchewan Health Region. During her Masters’s in Counselling Psychology, Brenda focused her research on the intergenerational trauma suffered by family members of former Indian residential school students. Her dissertation presented a man’s journey from substance abuse as a coping mechanism to becoming full of substance and empowerment during his process of addressing the impacts of Indian Residential Schools. She further expanded her counselling practice with children by studying and incorporating play therapy.
Well-known for developing the Health Support program, under the Indian Residential Settlement Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Brenda continues to share her experience through numerous speaking engagements and as an expert witness, namely with the Supreme Court of Canada case: Fontaine v. Canada, regarding the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s appeal on Independent Assessment Process’ record destruction. In 1992, the Alberta Foster Parent Association recognized Brenda for her commitment to children by awarding her the Social Worker of the Year award. More recently, the Alberta Medical Association recognized Brenda with a 2019 Medal of Honor for her contribution to the advancement of health education–specifically on the history and health impacts of Indian Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals.