Government of Canada supports mental health programs for Black Canadian youth

News release

Exploring restorative justice and the use of sports to address racism and mental health

August 12, 2021 | Montréal, QC | Public Health Agency of Canada

Many Canadians struggle with mental health issues, but certain groups of Canadians face unique challenges when it comes to mental health because of racism, discrimination, socio-economic status or social exclusion. As Canadians continue to support public health measures, an unintended consequence has been that 40% of Canadians have reported a decline in their mental health. The Government of Canada remains committed to promoting positive mental health for everyone, particularly during these challenging times because of COVID-19.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced an investment of up to $800,000 in mental health funding for two organizations to promote mental health and wellbeing in our communities, and to address health equity by tackling systemic challenges and barriers faced by Black Canadian youth.

Inspired by Indigenous alternative justice programs, the first project – Justice hoodistique – will develop a program that will offer an alternative and restorative justice program for Black youth aged 12-25 in Montréal accused of a criminal action. The project will also focus on families and close acquaintances of both the accused and victims. The project, while focused on local restorative justice, will be tested for expansion throughout Quebec and Nova Scotia and lessons learned will be shared to model in other jurisdictions across Canada.

Aspire for Higher’s Youth Wellness Program, is a 12-week after school health promotion program in Brampton, Ontario. Over the next two years, a group of youth between the ages of 15 to 34 will be trained as facilitators and mentors. These facilitators will have on-court basketball sessions and in-class learning sessions where they will learn an evidence-based, culturally appropriate curriculum that includes information on mental health using an anti-Black racism lens. The facilitators will then implement the program three times a week to three groups of Black males aged 12 to 14.


“All Canadians deserve equal opportunities to thrive, no matter their origin, culture, religion, socio-economic status, language or skin colour. The projects announced today are equipping Black Canadian youth, at the community level, with the tools they need to face and understand systemic racism and discrimination, maintain and improve their mental health, and develop skills to be leaders in their communities.” 

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Quick facts

  • Funding announced today has been distributed through the Public Health Agency of Canada's Promoting Health Equity: Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund.

  • Today's funding of up to $400,000 for each project, supports community-based programs in mental health promotion, with the goal of increasing health equity and addressing underlying determinants of health. They also support the development and implementation of culturally-focused mental health programs for Black Canadians.

  • Black Canadians represent almost 10% of the incarcerated population, whereas they represent less than 3% of the Canadian population. In Montréal, Black Canadians are stopped 4 to 5 times more often by police than white Canadians.

  • Hoodistique is derived from 'hood,' or neighbourhood and from 'holistic' which puts Black youth at the centre of the process.

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Thierry Bélair
Office of Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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