Government of Canada Announces $2.5 million for Projects to Improve Mental Health Supports for Indigenous Peoples

News release

July 21, 2023 | North Bay, Ontario | Health Canada

Indigenous Peoples face multiple barriers in accessing adequate mental health care, primarily due to systemic racism stemming from colonial practices and policies like residential schooling. The Government of Canada is committed to addressing disparities across our universal healthcare system and ensuring that all Indigenous Peoples have equitable access to compassionate, trauma-informed, and culturally-based mental health resources and care, wherever they live.

Today, the Honourable Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced $2.5 million for two projects led by the First Peoples Wellness Circle (FPWC) that focus on mental health supports for Indigenous Peoples.

Under the Supporting the Mental Health of Those Most Affected by COVID-19fund, FPWC is receiving $1.5 million for its, "Gathering Our Knowledge Bundles Development and Implementation Guide" project. FPWC will create and promote a guide to help First Nations' Mental Wellness Workforce support those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The guide will provide a framework and process to support the creation and promotion of "Knowledge Bundles" consisting of mental wellness resources and tools.

Under the Addressing Racism and Discrimination in Canada's Health Systemprogram, FPWC is also receiving $1 million to support its project "First Nations Knowledge and Evidence: Taking Action on Systemic Racism through Cultural Safety."FPWC will increase the number of mental health professionals in New Brunswick to provide culturally safe and inclusive mental health services and evaluation tools for First Nations populations.

The Government of Canada will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous leadership, all levels of government, partners, stakeholders, and organizations in communities across the country to improve health outcomes, increase access to adequate mental health and substance use supports, and foster healthcare systems free from systemic racism and discrimination where Indigenous Peoples feel respected, safe, and heard.


"Our government is committed to ensuring that Indigenous Peoples in Canada—no matter where they live—can access culturally safe health services without experiencing racism or discrimination. Safety in mental health services is an essential part of making them accessible to those seeking support and treatment. Together, we can combat systemic racism in our health systems in a way that is informed by the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples and based on respect, cooperation and the recognition of rights of Indigenous peoples."

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

"Indigenous Peoples in Canada are at a higher risk of experiencing mental illness, and face unacceptable intersecting barriers in accessing mental health services and supports. Our government is taking action to close those gaps and support indigenous health leadership in prevention and healing. I thank the First Peoples Wellness Circle for their important work to provide culturally grounded mental health support in their communities."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

"First Nations continue to face racism and inequalities when accessing healthcare services. Today's funding is much-needed progress which will provide culturally-appropriate mental health services for First Nations people. The Government of Canada will continue to collaborate with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to eliminate anti-Indigenous racism and build safe and inclusive healthcare services."

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

"Systemic racism in health care, coupled with the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought, has contributed to health disparities, including mental health challenges, among Indigenous Peoples and marginalized populations. By working with organizations like the First Peoples Wellness Circle, we are taking a step forward in addressing anti-Indigenous racism in our health care system and the promotion of mental wellness resources to those who need it most."

The Honourable Mona Fortier
President of the Treasury Board

"Investing in these two projects will help support the work that The First Peoples Wellness Circle does. Congratulations to Dr. Brenda Restoule and her team on all their hard work in developing the knowledge bundles project. "

The Honourable Anthony Rota
Member of Parliament for Nipissing-Timiskaming

"The $1 million investment towards Addressing Racism and Discrimination in Canada's Health System program reinforces our commitment to confronting systemic bias in health care delivery, and the $1.5 million investment under the Supporting the Mental Health of Those Most Affected by COVID-19 initiative will also enhance and expand our mental wellness supports and resources. Together, we'll continue to push for equitable health conditions for Canada's First Peoples. This significant funding uplifts our purpose to foster knowledge sharing and promote wellness within First Peoples communities. We're confident that this support will help to enhance our impact further and continue our work more passionately than ever."

First Peoples Wellness Circle

Quick Facts

  • The Supporting the Mental Health of Those Most Affected by COVID-19 investment of $100 million was announced in Budget 2021 to support projects that promote mental health and prevent mental illness in populations whose mental health was most affected by COVID-19, including Indigenous Peoples.
  • For FPWC's Cultural Safety Project, FPWC will work with Mental Wellness Teams in New Brunswick as follows: Mawlugutineg in central and northeast New Brunswick; Wolastoqewi near Fredericton; and Oeliangitasoltigo near Miramichi.
  • Health Canada's Addressing Racism and Discrimination in Canada's Health System Program was announced as part of the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People. The Program is focused on improving equitable access to health services for racialized and marginalized populations, and also supports broader federal efforts including Canada's Anti-Racism Strategy and the Federal Strategy to End Gender-Based Violence. This is the first project announced as part of this Program, following a call for proposals in April 2022 for $13 million in available funding.
  • Through the 2022 Call for Proposals, Health Canada gave priority to projects received from Indigenous health partners, with a focus on projects that combat anti-Indigenous racism and discrimination.
  • The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate help to all Indigenous peoples across Canada 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat.
  • The Wellness Together Canada portal provides free access to educational content, self-guided therapy, moderated peer-to-peer support, and one-to-one counselling with qualified health professionals. If you or a loved one is struggling, you can access the Wellness Together Canada portal, or call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 741741 (adults) or 686868 (youth).


Guillaume Bertrand
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Maja Staka
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Zeus Eden
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services

Public enquiries


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Health Canada

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Indigenous Services Canada

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