2023 National Summit on Indigenous Mental Wellness concludes in Ottawa

News release

Chief John Rampanen from Ahousaht First Nation and other distinguished panelists discuss a partnership focused on health and wellness.

October, 26, 2023 — Ottawa, Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

Today, Indigenous leaders concluded the 2023 National Summit on Indigenous Mental Wellness which heard directly from community leaders and service providers about new approaches to tackling longstanding challenges in mental health and wellness. Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Ya’ara Saks attended the Summit, provided remarks and took part in discussions.

The 2023 National Summit on Indigenous Mental Wellness is the second annual summit bringing together First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, tribal councils, organizations, and front-line service providers, to share best practices and build new collaborations to improve mental wellness services for Indigenous people.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of distinctions-based, Indigenous-led approaches that are based in culture and community and that address the impacts of colonization and inequities in the social determinants of health. Since 2018, we have adopted our programs to be more flexible by recognizing and providing funds for traditional Indigenous approaches. This includes funding for traditional healers, on-the-land treatment, and comprehensive wrap-around initiatives to support Indigenous-led approaches to mental wellness that go beyond traditional Western medicine.

Over the course of two days, attendees participated in a variety of sessions and workshops to discuss innovative approaches that provide holistic, patient-centred, trauma-informed and culturally safe mental health and substance use services and supports for Indigenous Peoples. The Summit highlighted distinctions-based approaches to mental wellness to better reflect and meet the unique needs and experiences of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and communities. The Summit focused on two priorities:  support for communities in crisis and Indigenous youth and children, with key themes including gender-based initiatives, supports for the mental wellness workforce, land-based approaches, and youth mental wellness.

Highlights of the Summit included youth-led projects, community-based initiatives, a wide range of projects, initiatives and supports from across Canada. These included initiatives for 2SLGBTQIA+ Indigenous youth on-the-land programming, youth storytelling, and virtual supports.

Additional multimedia

Minister Patty Hajdu shares opening remarks at the 2023 National Summit on Indigenous Mental Wellness.
We Matter’s Ambassador of Hope, Angelia Calhoun, performing a jingle dance in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.


“For centuries, Indigenous Peoples have known that wellness and health depended on holistic connections and relationships with each other, and with culture. Western systems of care have often not worked to bring relief and healing for Indigenous Peoples, leading to great suffering, loss and difficult cycles of hope followed by despair. In fact, some non-Indigenous Peoples have felt that same frustration in the search for the healing for their loved ones or themselves. Bringing Indigenous Peoples together to share the approaches to healing is powerful and necessary to see stronger people and communities.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

“Intergenerational trauma, the effects of colonization, the residential school system, the Sixties Scoop, poverty and many other factors contribute to Indigenous peoples having experienced higher rates of mental health and substance use issues. During this summit, we had the opportunity to hear from Indigenous organizations who have been doing incredible work, with their culturally safe approaches to mental well-being, including land-based approaches to treatment and healing. We are committed to working in partnership with them, Indigenous leaders, communities and others, to promote compassionate approaches to mental wellness that put people first.”

The Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health

Quick facts

  • Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) works closely with Indigenous partners and is guided by key documents that were developed by Indigenous partners, grounded in culture and Indigenous-specific determinants of health, including:

    • The First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework,
    • Honouring Our Strengths and;
    • The National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy. 
  • The Government of Canada has made significant recent investments to improve mental wellness in Indigenous communities. Since 2015, Indigenous Services Canada has doubled spending to support Indigenous mental wellness from approximately $325 million in 2015-16 to approximately $650 million in 2023-24. This funding includes:

    • $597.6 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, through Budget 2021 for a distinctions-based mental health and wellness strategy with First Nations, Inuit and Métis. This funding also provides essential cultural, emotional, and mental health support to former residential school and federal Day School students and their families, as well as those affected by the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people.
    • $227.6 million over two years, beginning in 2022-23, through Budget 2022 to maintain trauma-informed, Indigenous-led, culturally-appropriate services to improve mental wellness, and continue to implement distinctions-based mental health and wellness strategies.
  • Indigenous Services Canada funds mental wellness services that include culturally grounded life promotion and suicide prevention; substance use prevention and treatment, mental wellness teams; a toll-free telephone help line and online chat crisis intervention services; and supports for Survivors and families of residential schools, Day Schools, and those impacted by the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLBGTQI+ people.

  • National Summit on First Nation, Inuit and Métis Mental Wellness

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Zeus Eden
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services

Alex Fernandes
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

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