Youth Empowerment and Healing and Wellness Investment for First Nations Communities

News release

December 19, 2019 — Saskatoon, Treaty Six Territory, Saskatchewan — Indigenous Services Canada

The Government of Canada recognizes the scope and seriousness of the health and mental health challenges facing First Nations people in Canada.

Today, Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller joined Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), to announce funding to support a community driven Youth Empowerment and Healing Wellness Investment.

In order to maintain positive momentum among Saskatchewan First Nations leaders to support their community members in preventing further harms and deaths among their children and youth, the Department is committing $2.5 million over the next two years. This investment supports the delivery of mental wellness services and prevention programming that is holistic, First Nations-specific, strength based and community-driven.

The FSIN welcomes this funding announcement that will support the healing journey many of these communities face. The funds will go directly into the communities and be used to protect the lives of our greatest resource; our children. First Nations leaders and Elders know the best practices for their children and have seen the success of returning the youth to their traditional and cultural ways, through language and land-based learning. 

This made-by-Saskatchewan First Nations strategy touches on all of these important pieces of First Nations identity. This funding will help First Nations people develop plans that will best suit the needs of their communities and examine both short-term and long-term solutions focused on the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of First Nations people.

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) continues to address the high rates of self-harm that are happening in some First Nations communities, by supporting a variety of initiatives specific to life promotion and crisis prevention including the Hope for Wellness Helpline, continuing to support the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, and the Youth Hope Fund.
The Hope for Wellness Helpline provides immediate, culturally competent, telephone crisis intervention support for First Nations, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in English and French and upon request in Cree, Ojibway, and Inukitut. The national toll-free service has expanded its services to include an online chat counselling service ( to provide a new option for clients, particularly youth who may prefer to access counselling services through the internet, as opposed to over the phone.


“Our government is committed to supporting Indigenous leadership and communities in implementing solutions that promote life and enhance mental, physical and spiritual health. While there is still much work to do, this investment will have a measurable, positive impact on First Nations children in Saskatchewan.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

“The FSIN Chiefs-in-Assembly called for funding to provide immediate relief to flow directly to First Nations communities to address this crisis. First Nations leadership and technicians know how to best address the needs of their own communities. First Nations know the strengths they can build upon such as language and culture, land-based activities, peer initiatives and community supports. They know the training and certification required, as well as how many community workers they need. This funding will assist with these pressures, while also supporting the development of a large scale, by First Nations, for First Nations implementation plan that can guide appropriate investments in the future.”

Chief Bobby Cameron
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations

Quick facts

  • Saskatchewan specific: ISC provided over $32 million in 2019/20 specifically for mental health services and supports to First Nations children and youth in Saskatchewan. Services and supports include mental health counselling, equine therapy, land based healing, psychological assessment, mentoring and Elder support.

  • In Saskatchewan, 12 Mental Wellness Teams serve 72 of Saskatchewan’s 74 First Nations communities.

  • In Saskatchewan, ISC provides $1,140,000 to support 11 community driven projects which are diverse and focus on increasing protective factors such as resilience and reducing risk factors through prevention, outreach, education, and crisis response. Eight (8) smaller training projects are provided to the Saskatchewan Independent First Nations communities to support training and cost for travel to regional events.

  • In 2018-19, Saskatchewan Region invested over $53 million to address mental wellness challenges including youth suicide. 2018-19 investments mark a concerted regional effort to increase funding by more than $34 million over the past 10 years or an increase of 280%.

  • National: Since 2016, new significant investments were made in mental wellness including new mental wellness teams, a Youth Hope Fund, greater flexibility to utilize Non-Insured Health Benefits (including traditional healers), mental health and cultural supports to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls victims and families, and substance misuse prevention and treatment.

  • In 2019/20, ISC’s Mental Wellness Program is investing approximately $425 million to support a variety of initiatives specific to life promotion and suicide prevention and that include the Hope for Wellness Helpline, the implementation of the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy, the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, and the Youth Hope Fund.

  • The National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy (NAYSPS) supports First Nations and Inuit communities in addressing high rates suicide among Indigenous youth through a strengths-based, community-driven approach. A wide variety of projects and initiatives have been funded through the NAYSPS since 2005.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Kevin Deagle
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Larissa Burnouf
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations
Office: 306-665-1215
Cell: 306-291-6864

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