Guest Speaker Michael McCarthy: Reclaiming Ancestral Knowledge in Modern TimesRead Now
Highlighted clip (6:36)
Full video available to watch at the bottom of this page.
Michael McCarthy, a Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ and Hesquiaht First Nations member, is a clinical counsellor and regional coordinator at Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC). An accomplished public speaker, Michael thrives in the intersection of western psychotherapy and traditional cultural healing teachings -- "What my Granny taught me". As an NTC coordinator, Michael has frequently guided Daye Cooper Hagel and other mental health clinicians in weaving traditional and western mental health teachings -- "walking in two worlds". In this spirit and time of Truth and Reconciliation, what does each mode of healing have to offer the other?
"All pre-industrialized communities, regardless of where you’re from, had practices that kept you healthy. We just need to remember those practices. So for us, being Nuuchahnulth, being on the west coast, going in to the water, cold water, immersing ourselves, is a way of our healing practice. ... And for those that go and use cryotherapy or cold water therapy, the first time you dunk under, full immersion under the water, you come out and you [gasp], and you have this convulsion, this involuntary vocalization, and my teachers would say, that [gasping] is me letting go of the things I needed to let go of.
And this is the interesting part: our brain chemically and mentally can’t make the distinction between that [gasping] and a big grief cry, and so we naturally feel much better when we’re in the process of doing this … So, when we do that ritual of bathing where I’m from, it’s a way to truly maintain that good mental health."
Michael's full talk (1:18:36)
Donetta Faye (Daye) Cooper Hagel is a clinical counsellor, veteran wilderness guide, and director of the Mental Health Wilderness First Aid program on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. Read more about her and the MHWFA on the About Us page!