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October, 26, 2023
Today, Indigenous leaders concluded the 2023 National Summit on Indigenous Mental Wellness which heard directly from community leaders and service providers about new approaches to tackling longstanding challenges in mental health and wellness. Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Ya’ara Saks attended the Summit, provided remarks and took part in discussions.
The 2023 National Summit on Indigenous Mental Wellness is the second annual summit bringing together First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, tribal councils, organizations, and front-line service providers, to share best practices and build new collaborations to improve mental wellness services for Indigenous people.
The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of distinctions-based, Indigenous-led approaches that are based in culture and community and that address the impacts of colonization and inequities in the social determinants of health. Since 2018, we have adopted our programs to be more flexible by recognizing and providing funds for traditional Indigenous approaches. This includes funding for traditional healers, on-the-land treatment, and comprehensive wrap-around initiatives to support Indigenous-led approaches to mental wellness that go beyond traditional Western medicine.
Over the course of two days, attendees participated in a variety of sessions and workshops to discuss innovative approaches that provide holistic, patient-centred, trauma-informed and culturally safe mental health and substance use services and supports for Indigenous Peoples. The Summit highlighted distinctions-based approaches to mental wellness to better reflect and meet the unique needs and experiences of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and communities. The Summit focused on two priorities: support for communities in crisis and Indigenous youth and children, with key themes including gender-based initiatives, supports for the mental wellness workforce, land-based approaches, and youth mental wellness.
Highlights of the Summit included youth-led projects, community-based initiatives, a wide range of projects, initiatives and supports from across Canada. These included initiatives for 2SLGBTQIA+ Indigenous youth on-the-land programming, youth storytelling, and virtual supports.
“For centuries, Indigenous Peoples have known that wellness and health depended on holistic connections and relationships with each other, and with culture. Western systems of care have often not worked to bring relief and healing for Indigenous Peoples, leading to great suffering, loss and difficult cycles of hope followed by despair. In fact, some non-Indigenous Peoples have felt that same frustration in the search for the healing for their loved ones or themselves. Bringing Indigenous Peoples together to share the approaches to healing is powerful and necessary to see stronger people and communities.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
“Intergenerational trauma, the effects of colonization, the residential school system, the Sixties Scoop, poverty and many other factors contribute to Indigenous peoples having experienced higher rates of mental health and substance use issues. During this summit, we had the opportunity to hear from Indigenous organizations who have been doing incredible work, with their culturally safe approaches to mental well-being, including land-based approaches to treatment and healing. We are committed to working in partnership with them, Indigenous leaders, communities and others, to promote compassionate approaches to mental wellness that put people first.”
The Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services
Office of the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
Indigenous Services Canada