July 11, 2017
Story by Shelley Rattray
In recognition of 48 years of excellence in addiction and mental health treatment, Alberta Health Services (AHS) psychiatrist Dr. Nady el-Guebaly has been awarded the Order of Canada.
The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, cited Dr. el-Guebaly “for his leadership on addictions research and treatment, particularly for his efforts to have addictions treated as a mental health issue.” He will be formally invested into the Order at a Rideau Hall ceremony to be announced at a later date.
Dr. el-Guebaly is a founding member and consulting psychiatrist at the Addiction Centre in Calgary and current a consultant with the Addiction and Mental Health Provincial Addiction Curricula & Experiential Skills (PACES) program.
“Nady is internationally recognized within the field of addiction medicine. He is the reason why there now exists a variety of professional societies, academic journals and treatment programs that advance the quality of addiction services globally,” says Tuxephoni Winsor, Manager, Professional Development & Concurrent Capability, Provincial Addiction & Mental Health, AHS.
“This in itself is an inspiration to us as Canadians. However, it is those of us who have had the opportunity of working alongside Nady clinically, who are truly privileged and have witnessed firsthand what we often term the “Nady Magic Moment” — his ability to deeply connect with his clients, making them feel seen, heard and valued — inspiring them to believe in themselves as equally as he believes in them.”
While his initial reaction to his investiture was one of shock, Dr. el-Guebaly says he now sees his honour as being more about his passion rather than his own work.
“I thought how could we use this recognition for the causes I care for,” says el-Guebaly, one of only 99 Canadians who were awarded The Order of Canada for Canada Day, and among a very few of the 6,700 recipients over the last 50 years who specialize in addiction treatment.
Dr. el-Guebaly has been practising in Alberta since 1987 and has witnessed significant improvements over the years.
Through the integration of addiction and mental health services in Alberta, Dr. el-Guebaly says “every door is the right door” — an approach now helps to provide comprehensive addiction and mental health care rather than sending an individual to successive addiction or mental health treatments.
“There is significant improvement with the integration of services,” he adds.
As well as being a member of the Provincial Addiction Curricula and Experiential Skills Training team for AHS, he’s also a member of Alberta’s Responsible Gambling Advisory Committee, the Royal College Addiction Medicine Specialty Committee and the Board of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine.
Dr. el-Guebaly served nine years (three terms) as Board Chair of the Alberta Gaming Research Institute and is now the Alberta Gambling Research Institute’s Research Director as well as Editor in Chief of the Canadian Journal of Addiction for the last five years. These interests have resulted in 196 peer-reviewed papers, 80 chapters, 575 presentations and 60 past and current grants totaling $7 million.
“We are fortunate to have Dr. Nady el-Guebaly residing here in Alberta, Canada,” says Winsor. “You could search the world over and you would be hard-pressed to find another individual as accomplished.
“Although there is an endless list of academic credentials, appointments and publications that follow behind his name — it is Nady’s lifelong dedication to reducing addiction-related harms facing humanity that makes him truly worthy of the Order of Canada.”
In naming Dr. el-Guebaly and other recipients on June 30, Gov. Gen. Johnston added: “I am delighted to recognize these new recipients of the Order of Canada on the eve of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
“This July 1 also marks 50 years since the creation of the Order of Canada and the first-ever list of appointments, which was released a few days later. The individuals on today’s list, just like those appointed half a century ago, are truly inspiring as they have helped to build the smarter, more caring nation that we, as Canadians, are all so proud to call ‘home’. Let us celebrate these remarkable individuals today and every day!”