Mental Health Consultant, Brenda Reynolds Consulting and Counselling
Brenda Reynolds is Saulteaux and grew up on Fishing Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan. In high school, Brenda 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 Indian Residential School providing counselling services and educating students about abuse. Near the end of the school year, June 1988, 17 girls disclosed that they were being sexually abused by a staff member. These disclosures led to the first litigated case of sexual abuse involving an Indian Residential School staff member in Saskatchewan and Canada. The litigation led to the 2007 Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement – the largest class action settlement in Canada, thus far.
Brenda’s early career as a child welfare worker in Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal 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 healthcare professionals within Health Canada and other federal governments, First Nations, Tribal Councils, Alberta Health Services, non-government agencies, and Saskatchewan Health Region.
During her Master’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 her development of the Indian Residential School Resolution 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, Brenda was recognized for her commitment to children by the Alberta Foster Parent Association, when she received the Social Worker of the Year award. More recently, Brenda’s contribution to the advancement of health education – specifically on the history and health impacts of Indian Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals – was recognized when she was named as the recipient of the 2019 Alberta Medical Association Medal of Honor which recognizes a non-physician who has made an outstanding personal contribution to the people of Alberta. Brenda is one of three nominees for the 2022 Canadian Medical Association Owen Adams Award of Honour. This award is the highest honour given to a person outside the medical profession. It is an award recognizing contributions to the advancement of health education and awareness that bring change to the health care system.
Brenda continues to provide consulting services related to the impacts of Indian residential schools to various professional, national, and international organizations. Specifically training on understanding how historical and current mental health and systemic issues originate from the effects of the Canadian government’s aggressive assimilation policy of Indian residential schools. International consultation is on the development and implementation of an emotional support process in a truth and reconciliation commission.
In addition to her professional contributions, Brenda is an avid distance runner having completed 24 marathons including the Boston Marathon and a Certified Indigenous Yoga Teacher.