Chatham-Kent, ON – HEALTH – The national voice advocating for First Nations culturally-based addictions and mental health services is welcoming the new federal budget as a positive sign of Canada’s commitment to improve Indigenous health outcomes. Carol Hopkins, executive director of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation is hopeful the additional $828-million for Indigenous health, with $204-million earmarked for mental health will mean an immediate influx of resources to assist with the on-going mental health crisis being felt in communities across Canada.
“It is encouraging to see the federal budget including Indigenous culture and knowledge in Canada’s strategy to address mental health issues,” says Hopkins. “It’s vital that Indigenous cultural practitioners,
Elders, and others who hold this knowledge are central to any plan to work with Indigenous people to address substance use and mental health issues.”
The Thunderbird Partnership Foundation has a long history of working with the federal government and Indigenous communities to find an approach to wellness that is rooted in culture. Making a difference in mental wellness will mean that Indigenous people have more hope in their lives, have a stronger sense of belonging, the meaning of life is informed by cultural knowledge and one’s purpose in life is informed by connection to land, lineage and our sacred Indigenous languages. Activities that facilitate and promote Hope, Belonging, Meaning and Purpose are land-based healing camps, cultural teachings and strength-based approaches that address intergenerational trauma from the core belief that Indigenous people have inherent strengths. Investments across the social determinants of health and wellness, such as, housing, education, maternal child health, language and culture, sports will also support mental wellness.
Last fall, Hopkins appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health regarding the Opioid Crisis in Canada, where she made several harm reduction recommendations. She says the $15-million earmarked in this week’s budget for harm reduction measures in the Canadian Drug and Substances Strategy, is welcome news, as the country continues to move away from a punitive approach to drug misuse.
Hopkins is also hopeful the expansion to First Nations and Inuit maternal and child health will mean increased capacity to support youth and women of child-bearing years with addictions to opioids. “We need more cultural services for these pregnant women and new moms to make sure they get the treatment supports they need to work towards wellness and maintain their right to mother.”
The Thunderbird Partnership Foundation works with First Nations to further the capacity of communities to address substance use and mental health issues. The non-profit organization promotes a holistic approach to healing and wellness that values culture, respect, community, and compassion.
Thunderbird’s scope of work is drawn from the Honouring Our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nations in Canada and the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework.