OTTAWA – INDIGENOUS News – “I have been proud to witness how the life-saving activities supported by Choose Life are helping our First Nations communities build resiliency and pride in our children, youth and families. I am incredibly proud of the work that is being accomplished in our communities through this program, and I thank everyone involved for encouraging our youth to Choose Life,” said Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse. “The feedback from our communities on the success of this program has been tremendous. Choose Life works, and I am pleased that we have signed this agreement to ensure that this life-saving work will continue.”
Members of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Executive Council, Elders, youth and leaders today celebrated a milestone as NAN and the Government of Canada have taken the next steps towards sustainable, long-term funding to support Choose Life activities to continue the healing path forward for First Nations communities and citizens across NAN territory.
A Terms of Reference (TOR) was signed during the opening of the inaugural Choose YOUth Celebration (Sept. 28-30) committing NAN and our federal Treaty partner to negotiate long-term funding through a Choose Life Table. Signatories to the TOR include:
- Grand Chief Derek Fox, Nishnawbe Aski Nation
- Hon. Patty Hadju, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada
- Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse, Nishnawbe Aski Nation
- Associate Deputy Minister Valerie Gideon, Indigenous Services Canada
Launched in 2017, Choose Life is a NAN-specific initiative funded by the federal government through Jordan’s Principle that bridges gaps in services by providing mental health and community-based supports that promote healing and wellness. Since inception, nearly $70 million has been approved for organizations and communities supporting more than 21,000 children and youth.
As of May 2022, 33 Choose Life applications for the 2022-2023 fiscal year have been submitted by 17 First Nations and 13 Tribal Councils and education organizations. Choose Life activities will continue to be funded at current levels until long-term funding is agreed to by NAN and Canada in the Final Settlement Agreement.
A 2021 video documents the success of Choose Life and highlights the work being done across NAN communities with first-hand experiences through Choose Life programs from NAN Leaders, youth and Choose Life Coordinators.