The Canada FASD Conference was held in Saskatoon in November – this first of its kind event connected those with living experience of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) with renowned researchers and practitioners in the field.
The sold-out conference brought together over 500 researchers, caregivers, individuals with FASD, policymakers and professionals. Its program covered a wealth of topics that intersect with FASD, including justice, diagnosis, and prevention.
An estimated 4% of Canadians have FASD – more than autism, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome combined. It is a lifelong disability that affects the brain and body of people exposed to alcohol prenatally.
The conference theme was ‘Connect, Inspire, Innovate: From Evidence to Action’ and the first keynote of the conference focused on this theme. This second panel brought together diverse perspectives on FASD prevention and highlighted promising trends in the field. The conference ended with a keynote by CanFASD Executive Director, Audrey McFarlane, summarising the history of FASD in Canada and what the future holds for this crucial area of research.
One of the unique features of the Canada FASD Conference was the way that it connected different voices together. Sessions were structured so that research presentations were alongside presentations from service providers and those with living experience. This grounded and contextualized all the work that is happening in the field of FASD.
There were over one hundred presentations for attendees to choose from, with topics ranging from education to corrections to Tik Tok to neurodiversity.
Registration for the conference sold-out incredibly quickly and there was a waiting list of over two hundred people eager to get their hands on a ticket. This proves the desire for research and innovation in the field of FASD.
It was hosted in partnership with the Canada FASD Research Network, the Canada Northwest FASD Partnership, the Governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Audrey McFarlane, B.CR, MBA, Executive Director, the Canada FASD Research Network said: “We are thrilled with the response to this conference, clearly people are wanting to reconnect and to learn more about what is happening in the field of FASD.
“This conference brought together the voices of researchers, service providers and clinicians, and those with lived experience to provide the attendees with a broader understanding of the issues and opportunities in many areas such as complex youth, diagnosis and assessment, prevention, justice system, school based supports, health care, and so much more.”
“As one of the founding partners of the Canada Northwest FASD Partnership and the CanFASD Research Network, the Government of Saskatchewan recognizes how vital it is to have a coordinated, integrated approach to FASD prevention and supports,” Saskatchewan Health Minister Everett Hindley said. “This conference is an excellent opportunity to bring together those with lived experiences, caregivers, researchers and professionals. I know the insight and knowledge shared at the conference will benefit residents across our province and our country.”
The conference will return in 2025, this time in Toronto. Anyone with any interest in the FASD field can get involved. Sign up to the interest list now to receive the latest updates.