Ontario Connecting Indigenous Communities to More Mental Health Supports

Nishnawbe Aski Nation receiving $2.6 million to support Indigenous-led healing, health and wellness

Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions making an announcement in Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay — The Ontario government is investing over $2.6 million to connect Indigenous communities to more mental health and addictions supports, closer to home.

“Our government recognizes the importance of Indigenous-led, culturally appropriate services,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “We are continuing to take action to ensure Indigenous communities across northern Ontario have access to safe and effective mental health and addictions services closer to home.”

The over $2.6 million in funding to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), which represents 49 First Nations and approximately 45,000 Indigenous people, includes:

  • $1 million for Keewaytinook Okimakanak, which leads the NAN Hope program that provides community-driven, culturally appropriate services, and supports surge capacity to address urgent mental health and addictions needs across Nishnawbe Aski Nation Territory.
  • $623,500 for NAN mental health supports in First Nations schools located in Thunder Bay and Sioux Lookout, in response to the Seven Youth Inquest.
  • $500,000 for NAN IHWS Crisis Teams through the Indigenous Healing and Wellness Strategy (IHWS), which provides an effective, coordinated approach to crisis response in communities.
  • $500,000 for NAN to purchase vehicles and further develop their mobile crisis response teams, allowing them to connect more remote Indigenous communities to mental heath and addictions services.

“The funding we are recognizing today will ensure children and families in Nishnawbe Aski Nation and surrounding areas have more access to the mental health and emergency supports and programming they need, closer to home,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “Through continued collaborations with First Nations communities and organizations, our government is committed to improving overall mental health and well-being for Indigenous children and their families across Ontario.”

Today’s investment supports Ontario’s Indigenous Healing and Wellness Strategy (IHWS) and is one more step the government is taking to deliver on its 30-year joint commitment between Indigenous partners and the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs to support the healing, health and wellness of Indigenous communities.

“Our government is pleased to support initiatives developed by and for Indigenous partners that ensure that comprehensive and culturally responsive supports are in place to address the unique needs of each community,” said Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “Through this investment, Nishnawbe Aski Nation can be better equipped to improve the health, healing and well-being of Indigenous people living with mental illness or addiction.”

Through Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, the Ontario government is making it easier and faster for people of all ages to connect to the care they need, where and when they need it. In 2020, the province introduced the Roadmap to Wellness, a plan to build a modern, world-class mental health and addictions system, which as invested more than $40 million in Indigenous-specific mental health and addictions support.

Quick Facts

  • Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) was established in 1973 and originally known as Grand Council Treaty No. 9 until 1983. NAN territory encompasses James Bay Treaty No. 9 and the Ontario portion of Treaty No. 5, a landmass covering two-thirds of Ontario, spanning 544,000 square kilometres.
  • The Indigenous Healing and Wellness Strategy (IHWS) (formerly the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy), co-developed in 1994, is a partnership between Indigenous partners and Ontario.
    • IHWS is a multi-ministry commitment between MCCSS, MOH and IAO that integrates funding from the three ministries to support the efficient and coordinated delivery of Indigenous-designed and delivered healing and wellness services.
    • Its culturally responsive programs and services combine Indigenous and mainstream approaches to help improve Indigenous healing, health and wellness and reduce family violence and violence against women and children.
  • The ministry funds 21 Indigenous Primary Health Care Organizations across the province, with sites that deliver a wide range of services in First Nations and urban/rural Indigenous communities.
  • In addition to Roadmap to Wellness investments, the recently announced one-time Addictions Recovery Fund investments of $90 million over three years starting in 2021-22. The funding includes:
    • $4.2 million allocated to the Sioux Lookout Friendship Accord Group for addictions services.
    • More than $3.8 million allocated for St. Joseph’s Care Group and Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, both located in Thunder Bay, for up to 34 new addictions treatment beds.

SOURCE Province of Ontario

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