$2.5 million for mental health projects

Support of $2.5 million to fund two projects led by the First Peoples Wellness Circle (FPWC) with a focus on mental health support for Indigenous people was announced this week.

The announcement was made on July 21 and was presented by President of the Treasury Board Mona Fortier, on behalf of the Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Carolyn Bennett. The team addressed how systemic racism stemming from colonial practices and policies like residential schooling has led to inadequate mental health care for Indigenous people on Turtle Island.

The FPWC is an Indigenous-led national not-for-profit dedicated to enhancing the lives of Canada’s Indigenous people by addressing healing, wellness, and mental wellness barriers. The organization’s purpose is to walk with and support Indigenous people and communities to share collective intelligence for healing, peace-making, and living a good life.

“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,” said Duclos in a press release. “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 Government of Canada said it is committed to addressing disparities across the country’s universal healthcare system and ensuring that Indigenous people have equitable access to compassionate, trauma-informed, and culturally-based mental health resources and care.

Under the Supporting the Mental Health of Those Most Affected by COVID-19 fund, 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.

“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,” said Bennett.

Under the Addressing Racism and Discrimination in Canada’s Health System program, FPWC willl also receive $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.

“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,” said FPWC. “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.”

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