Wednesday, June 12, 2024

New psychedelic research centre to open at VIU combining scientific and Indigenous perspectives


A one-of-a-kind research centre is set to open at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island University (VIU).

The new endeavour will be known as the Naut sa mawt Center for Psychedelic Research, and its aim is to combine the knowledge of Indigenous, western and other non-Indigenous perspectives in order to co-develop programming. 

The centre’s name, Naut sa mawt, is a Coast Salish phrase meaning, “working together, as one mind and spirit.”

“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 Dr. Shannon Dames, VIU Psychedelic-assisted Therapy Program Chair.

“Unlike conventional western therapy, psychedelics involve a lowering of the typical defenses 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.”

The Naut sa mawt Centre is an example of reconciliation in action, according to Dames. 

“We do this by developing authentic relationships, committed to working through the historical challenges that we have inherited and in doing so, carving a new way forward, together.”

The research done at the Naut sa mawt Centre is currently helping firefighters with PTSD, as well as people who have received terminal diagnoses and treatment of fibromyalgia. An Alzheimers disease treatment is also in development.

Dames is spearheading this initiative alongside professors and graduate students from UBC, Royal Roads University and representatives from the First Nation Health Authority (FNHA).

The centre is unique in that it is virtual. This way, people from all across Canada can participate in the research Dames and her crew will be doing. 

The Naut sa mawt Centre already has several ongoing treatment programs with more studies and programming waiting on funding to launch.

Curtis Blandy

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