Winnipeg was one of the few places in Canada with sun from May 25-27 during the CAOT National Conference. Whether the Host Committee and the Manitoba Society of Occupational Therapists (MSOT) had control over the weather is doubtful, but all the other details were in place to create brighter horizons through occupation. Close to 650 delegates and exhibitors enjoyed a Conference program carefully constructed by the Scientific Conference Committee to cover many active and emerging areas of occupational therapy practice.
The opening ceremonies held interesting surprises, including the appearance of Winnipeg’s own golden boy. The golden boy recently completed his rehabilitation and sits on top of the Manitoba Legislative Building, representing eternal youth. Occupational therapist Stephen Johns, assuming the role of the golden boy, stopped in to obtain some occupational therapy advice to stay healthy, despite his severe work demands. Twenty-four hours a day his right arm is in extreme flexion and his solitary work is leading to anti-social behaviour. At 13.5 feet tall, he also finds that no environment provides a good fit.
Despite the dilemma posed by the golden boy, warm welcomes were extended by City Councillor Mike Pagtakhan, CAOT President Mary Manoljovich and MSOT President Julie Lamothe. Our distinguished guests included Helena Culshaw, Chair of the British College of Occupational Therapists, Barbara Kornblau President of the American Occupational Therapy Association, Jennette Toews from Health Canada, and Anne Lawson-Porter, Coordinator of Education of the British College of Occupational Therapists.
Unfortunately at the last minute, our keynote speaker Dr. Jenny Strong was unable to travel to Conference but Muriel Westmorland delivered her address with as much Aussie style as an ex-Brit, Hamilton, Ontario dweller can. Dr. Strong’s message was clear: “For occupational therapists to remain vibrant players in the health care sector, best practice must be the rule not the exception.”
According to Strong, best practice is not just about being a nice person, a good communicator and technically competent but also about being knowledgeable, evidence-based and client-centred. Occupational therapists must use three important bodies of knowledge: clinical experience, key literature and research findings. Best practice involves not just gazing out at the stars but also looking inside to our own practice.
Dr. Strong is a strong proponent of evidence-based occupational therapy practice in Australia. She is a professor of occupational therapy at the University of Queensland where www.otseeker.com was recently launched. OTseeker is a web-based database currently comprised of abstracts and quality ratings of randomised control trials, and abstracts of systematic reviews relevant to occupational therapy.
During the coffee break between the keynote address and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) delegates had the opportunity to network with CAOT authors. Three new CAOT publications were displayed: Clinical Reasoning…What is it and why should I care?; Discovering Occupation: A Workbook and Spirit and Occupation (ready this Fall). For highlights regarding the AGM, click here.
Many awards were presented at this year’s awards ceremony. Click here for a full list of recipients. Both Kate Coffman and Micheline Marazzani received life memberships. Micheline took time to describe how CAOT had taken care of her occupational health since 1963. She joined the Association because she wanted to participate in change, to discover how other occupational therapists practised across the country and to gain a wider perspective on the profession for herself and later for her students. Although Micheline’s initial encounter into a then-predominantly anglophone organization was not the most positive, she congratulated the Association on opening up to French-speaking occupational therapists in Canada.
Some of Canada’s most interesting history took place in Manitoba. The Forks was the meeting place between fur traders and First Nations peoples. The Métis culture grew from these events. Delegates had a glimpse of their customs and practices when a mother and son, dressed in the Métis garments of the 1830s, helped to formally open the Trade Show. Delegates were ushered toward the exhibit hall, with Métis drum music and a prayer: “May you paddle on a quiet stream, with the wind on your back and an eagle to show you the way.”
The day ended with the Official Manitoba Social sponsored by students from the University of Manitoba. The future of our profession lies with these organizers and we are in good hands! For those who attended, the evening was no small warm-up for the following night’s entertainment.
Held in Winnipeg’s historic exchange district, the Collage Party and Cultural Exchange proved to be everything the planners promised it would be. The collages were definitely diverse and for those who still had energy left, dancing completed the night. Over $5,800 was raised at the silent auction to support COTF.
The Collage Party was a foreshadowing of Dr. Judith Friedland’s Muriel Driver Memorial Lecture the next morning. Dr. Friedland’s choice to conduct historical research grew from her quest to discover why crafts were used so extensively during the early development of occupational therapy in Canada. Taking us through three political and social movements of the times: the Arts and Crafts, the Settlement House and the Mental Hygiene, she identified how the movements influenced the direction of the profession and the choice of crafts as occupations. Dr. Friedland’s lecture will be published in the October issue of the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy (CJOT).
Professional issue forums were held on the topics of Disability Management and Workplace Health. Participants included Conference delegates as well as consumers and stakeholders interested in these emerging practice areas. Position statements will be written from these exciting forums.
The COTF Scholarly Luncheon sold out before Conference began. This luncheon celebrated the foundation’s first 20 years and Dr. Juliette (Archie) Cooper, Director of the School of Medical Rehabilitation at the University of Manitoba was the guest speaker. She noted the recent large growth in occupational therapy research in Canada, despite the small proportion of our profession with advanced degrees. As Chair of the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Dr. Cooper was able to provide insight and strategies for further growth in our profession, including the need to identify the value of occupational therapy research in terms of the contributions made to the health of Canadians.
Two days, 150 sessions and 40 posters later, we had reached the time for closing ceremonies. CAOT President Mary Manojlovich gave her presidential address, encouraging us to share our occupational therapy vision with clients, friends, colleagues and potential partners, and begin to work toward the realization of this vision. “It will energize you and those around you, expand occupational therapy and perhaps change your work life in ways you have never expected,” concluded Mary.
A closing ceremony traditionally includes the CAOT apron exchange. This year’s convenors passed the apron, complete with survival gear for Conference planning in the coming year, onto Heather Cutcliffe and Marjorie Hackett, the 2004 Conference Convenors. Heather and Marjorie welcomed everyone to Prince Edward Island to bridge health and occupation from June 24-26. The call for papers deadline is September 1.
CAOT wishes to thank the following occupational therapists who took time away from attending sessions to be interviewed by the media. Occupational therapy appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press and Le Journal de Montréal as well as the Water Cooler on CJOB radio, an hour-long, call-in show. Re: seniors and driving – Lynn Shaw, Susan Sofer, Isabelle Gélinas and Nicol Korner-Bitensky. Re: technology – Lili Lui, Cory Haslbeck and Elizabeth Steggles. Re: Development Coordination
Disorder and help for parents — Cheryl Missiuna & Debra Stewart.
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