Government of Canada announces mental health supports for Indigenous communities


July 4, 2023

Supporting the mental health and well-being of people in Canada is a priority for the Government of Canada, especially those who face disproportionate challenges and inequities due to systemic racism, discrimination, and social exclusion.

To help address the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of Indigenous individuals and communities, the Government of Canada announced close to $13 million in funding to nine organizations across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, for their community-based projects to support Indigenous mental health through a variety of approaches, including strengthening cultural connections, supporting culturally informed mental health resources, and providing peer support. These projects will provide support tailored to Indigenous youth, urban Indigenous communities, Indigenous healthcare and frontline workers, and Indigenous women.

This announcement is part of an investment of $100 million provided in Budget 2021 to support projects that promote mental health and prevent mental illness in populations disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and a further investment of $50 million to address posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma in frontline and essential workers. By making strategic investments that address the specific challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples, we can ensure that people get the support they need, when and where they need it.

Project Overviews

Projects focused on supporting Indigenous youth

  • Mistawasis Nêhiyawak in Leask, SK, is receiving $505,000 to promote mental health and wellness among Indigenous youth through the cultural, traditional and spiritual practices of the Mistawasis Nehiyawak people. The project will provide immediate mental health well-being interventions for 50 to80 youth through culturally-based mental health promotion activities designed to support and build resiliency in youth.
  • The Alexandra Community Health Centre (“The Alex”) in Calgary, AB, is receiving $461,866 to improve connections to traditional Indigenous knowledge and culture among urban Indigenous youth aged 18 to 24. The project aims to hire Indigenous elders to connect and pass on traditional knowledge and skills through various events.
  • Western University in London, ON, is receiving $362,114 to work in close partnership with Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation to create and implement a culturally-adapted and community-relevant version of the Healthy Relationships Program. By strengthening cultural connection, this version of the program will provide support strategies that address and mitigate the impacts of health inequities experienced by the youth in that community.
  • Shkoday Abinojiiwak Obimiwedoon in Thunder Bay, ON, is receiving $354,000 to increase the capacity of the Youth Outreach Workers to identify signs of mental health issues among Indigenous youth program participants due to impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic. The project will take place in a semi-rural childcare centre and in nine schools in Thunder Bay.
  • Northwestern Health Unit in Kenora, ON, is receiving $305,000 to help Indigenous and at-risk youth build the skills and knowledge needed to cope with the stressors related to the transition into secondary school. Approximately 700 Indigenous and at-risk students will take part in the Community Youth Wellness PreVenture program.

Project to support urban Indigenous communities

  • National Association of Friendship Centres in Ottawa, ON, is receiving $6,000,000 to enhance, scale up and evaluate existing culturally-grounded mental health support programs reaching urban Indigenous communities across Canada. This funding will support a variety of supports including Elder programs addressing isolation and connectivity, youth and mentorship support and on the land programming.

Projects to support Indigenous healthcare and frontline workers

  • Indigenous Primary Health Care Council in Ontario is receiving $4,382,090 to develop culturally-based mental health education, training, tools and resources for Indigenous health care workers in Ontario, particularly those who worked on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its various activities, this project is expected to reach up to 450,084 mental health practitioners and clinical care teams within Indigenous and mainstream health settings across Ontario.
  • Thunderbird Partnership Foundation in Bothwell, ON, is receiving $402,358 to develop an online repository of culturally-based mental wellness and addictions resources, best practices and other guidance materials, that support First Nations communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the First Nations addictions treatment program workforce.

Project focused on supporting Indigenous Women

  • Bridges for Women Society in Victoria, BC, is receiving $209,000 to break the cycle of trauma by supporting Indigenous women to develop self-knowledge and skills related to their personal growth. The program will serve a total of 27 Indigenous women who have been impacted by trauma, and will include a peer support and education group, as well as mentorship and one-on-one support.

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