Inventory of Community Stories

Yukon

Nina Ithe Tr’inke-in

Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“Since the most critical time of development of a child is from birth to age 6, the AHS is integral for establishing a base for on-going mental wellness. AHS is an early learning program for youth ages 3-4 that incorporates cultural and traditional teachings through experiential, land-based learning. AHS revitalizes their language, connects children with teachings of their elders and focuses on building a sense of pride and respect for the land to build capacity and foster pride for First Nations children in their early development.”

Northwest Territories

Gwich’in Outdoor Classroom

Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“Gwich’in Outdoor Classroom project was a culture-based, crime prevention program designed for Indigenous children aged 6 to 12 living in remote northern communities facing multiple risk factors associated with crime. The outdoor classroom targeted issues surrounding lack of attachment to school and to community role models, addictions, mental health issues, involvement in youth gangs and lack of parental support through a range of outdoor teachings and traditional learnings.”

Nova Scotia

Aboriginal Mental Health Awareness Project

Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“Be, Think, Feel: Aboriginal Mental Health Awareness Project (AMHAP) is an afterschool project that focuses on creating an increased awareness of mental health and addictions within the Indigneous population of Halifax Regional Municipality. They do this by promoting awareness, providing workshops on a variety of topics, creating opportunities for youth to learn about Indigenous culture, and decrease barriers to positive mental health promotion within the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre.”

Nova Scotia

Eskasoni Community Mental Wellness Model

Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“The Community Mental Wellness Model consists of five integrated teams that function within a Ladder of Care framework:

• Community Crisis Line – 24/7 toll free/online/in-person in Mi’kmaq language
• Case management, care facilitation and mental wellness team
• Clinical and therapeutic support team
• Residential school survivor team
• Youth resource centre

The model provides a holistic approach to community wellness through many programs focusing on the following principles: promotion, prevention, education and community development; early identification and intervention; crisis/distress and response/pro-active planning; treatment services (Western and Indigenous), support and aftercare; and cultural practices and teachings.”

Quebec

Chisasibi Land-based Healing Program

Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“The program harnesses experiential learning and provides methods and teachings rooted in iiyiyiu pimaatisiiwin (Cree way of life) in an outdoor bush camp. Its mission is to strengthen the ability of participants to lead a healthy, fulfilling and resilient life based on a model that recognizes the healing power of nature and the ‘return to the land’ as a way of connecting individuals to Cree culture and language; promote intergenerational knowledge transfer; and offer a safe space in which individuals can share personal experiences and detoxify when necessary. As knowledge holders, Elders are the core component of this program and are involved with workshop delivery and guidance.”

Quebec (Not Specific)

Wapikoni Mobile

Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“Wapikoni mobile is a travelling filmmaking studio that offers video / music workshops to First Nation youth in their communities. It has proven to be a creative and successful suicide and substance abuse prevention initiative. Through one month intensive workshops, Wapikoniprovides the tools for youth to exercise their important voices by, teaching them the basics of filmmaking and encouraging them express their stories and creativity. Participants develop social skills, pride and strong intergenerational ties. Video, music and the self-expression fostered through the workshops become tools of prevention, empowerment, and social transformation.”

Ontario

SafeTALK

Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“SafeTALK training empowers youth to be ambassadors of life promotion and mentors for their peers facing suicide and mental health issues. SafeTALK is a half-day alertness training that prepares youth to recognize mental illness and suicide amongst their peers and equips them to take action by connecting them with life-saving resources and the ability to conduct a full-scale intervention. Each training is delivered by a LivingWorks trainer and an Elder from the community to offer cultural and community support.”

Ontario

Preventing premature death: Promoting a way of life.

Source: Connors, E.; Rice, J.; & Leenaars, A. Ojibway First Nation (Anishinaabe) Healing Practices

This chapter elaborates Anishinaabe grief rituals in detail with the stories surrounding the premature deaths of two community members. In the community where these cultural practices have been revitalized, ‘clusters’ of suicides no longer occur. It makes a very strong case that through active decolonization of worldviews and practices – and the promotion of particular ways of life – life itself is promoted. By focusing on revitalizing cultural teachings and practices, the positive, life promoting impacts extend beyond a narrow focus on suicide prevention.

Ontario

Photovoice Training

Source: Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“Photovoice Training offers a multifaceted program for youth to learn how to capture stories and share their visions through photography. Youth become ambassadors of issues surrounding mental wellness and life promotion at the forefront of their communities. During the 2-day training, youth participate in technical workshops around photo/video skills and sessions on how to tell a story. Additionally, they participate in important conversations on issues of life promotion for First Nations.”

Ontario

Youth suicide prevention programs studied by Thunder Bay professor

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/youth-suicide-prevention-programs-studied-by-thunder-bay-professor-1.3163238 (from Jennifer White)

This is a brief CBC News article that features the work of Dr. Christopher Mushquash and his colleagues. In addition to school-based programs, their work points to recommendations for community-based programs, particularly those that can support and respond to young people who have multiple suicide attempts. They acknowledge that the scientific criteria used to select articles for their review may limit their ability to evaluate other existing community-based initiatives, but recommend attention to culture when working towards suicide prevention.

Ontario

Study finds Aboriginal community with strong ethno-cultural identity and connection to the land has lower suicide rates

Source: http://fourthventricle.com/study-finds-aboriginal-community-with-strong-ethno-cultural-identity-and-connection-to-the-land-has-lower-suicide-rates/

Among several communities in northern Ontario that have been impacted by colonization and faced numerous traumas, one community does not have high rates of suicide. Research shows that this is likely linked to the strong cultural identity and connection to the land.

Manitoba

CEPS Youth Leadership Development Project

Source: Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“CEPS is based upon the vision of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Youth Secretariat to serve as a preventative mechanism to many issues facing youth and build strong leadership, capacity and purpose among all young people. It is youth led and youth developed and touches on four areas: Cultural, Economic, Political and Social. There are 44 different interactive workshops, skill building activities and lessons facilitated by youth to meet to specific needs of the community.”

Saskatchewan

Embrace Life Program

Source: Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“The Embrace Life Program facilitated by the Prince Albert Grand Council is designed to find and address strategies that work within the community to prevent suicide. Focuses of this program include promotion of youth identity and empowerment, youth engagement and leadership, community involvement and traditional teachings, integrated, holistic and comprehensive programming, crisis response and grief recovery, and education and awareness. With emphasis on youth engagement, activities were targeted to two age groups of youth: 14-18 years of age and 19-30 years of age.”

Saskatchewan

FSIN Youth Council Initiatives

Source: Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“The FSIN Youth council will launch a series of initiatives and projects to empower 10 youth representatives from the Saskatchewan region to form a youth council that is trained in mental health and wellness training, suicide prevention, addictions counselling, and is responsible for engaging their communities in mental wellness initiatives and conversation. The council is to be formed in 2016 and has the hope of being a network for life promotion work in the province. The representatives will also work towards building action plans to implement within their own communities.”

Saskatchewan

Journey 2 Wellness (J2W)

Source: Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“The Journey to Wellness (J2W) project is a heavily activity-oriented and intensive life promotion program that involves a facilitator working with youth aged 12-18 years of age in First Nations communities. Participants receive a sequenced set of sessions that are framed positively toward healthy living styles while at the same time exploring risk factors and other suicide related issues.”

Saskatchewan

Aboriginal youth suicide rates addressed using art

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/saskatchewan/aboriginal-youth-suicide-rates-addressed-using-art-1.3308007 (from Jennifer White)

This is a brief CBC News article that features a Regina-based program called ‘Acting out, but in a good way’ see full website here. It engages First Nations youth in art and drama classes, and collects data to explore the relationship between this experience and mental wellness (including life promotion). So far, the findings point to positive results including strength in identity, sense of belonging, and self-confidence that come through finding and expressing one’s voice.

This is a brief Globe and Mail article that features a culture camp for Heiltsuk youth in Bella Bella, B.C. At the culture camp, young people are connected with Elders, spirituality, traditional cultural practices, the natural world, and more. The pillars of the program are youth, culture, and the environment, and it strives to integrate western and traditional science. After the introduction of this program, once-high youth suicide rates plummeted, and once-low high school graduation rates increased to 80%.

British Columbia

Wagon convoy in BC’s interior connects First Nations youth to their culture

Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/youth-wagon-ride/article25119694/ (from Janet Newbury)

This is a Globe and Mail article that features an annual convoy of horse-drawn wagons makes its way from the B.C. First Nation of Xeni Gwet’in to the Williams Lake Stampede. It is an intergenerational experience that teaches youth independence, about culture, and about connection with horses. It also “builds bridges – between young and old people, old and new ways and people and horses. It also connects neighbours and communities.”  Through these bridges, people and communities experience many positive changes – in relation to addition, and more.

British Columbia

For First Nations facing suicide crisis, the solution is rooted in community

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/suicide-first-nations-snuneymuxw-1.3536821 (from Jennifer White)

This is a CBC News article that focuses mainly on the developments of the Snuneymuxw First Nation (on Vancouver Island). Though there had been clusters of suicides in this community in the past, it has been completely suicide-free for five years at the time of writing. This is connected with the commitment of the community to opportunities for young people to connect with each other and their community through recreation, sports, and particularly cultural practices such as the Tribal Canoe Journey. The article connects the experiences in this community with the research of Christopher Lalonde and others that emphasizes “a community-based approach rooted in indigenous culture and values.”

British Columbia

Traditional First Nations culture may help reduce teen suicides

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/traditional-first-nations-culture-may-help-reduce-teen-suicides-1.3543628 (from Jennifer White)

This is a CBC News article featuring a pilot project underway in Fraser Valley’s Seabird Island community. The project is called the Seabird Youth Resiliency Project, and it aims “to build personal strength in youth by connecting them to the land and traditional culture that has been lost during decades of colonialism — to build an identity that gives young people a feeling of meaning and place in the community.” Although a large sample size and 20 years of evaluation will be necessary to determine its impacts, right now they are focusing on numbers, participation, and the quality of experience people are having in order to measure success.

British Columbia

KUU-US Crisis Line Society

Source: Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“KUU-US offers a 24-hour Crisis Line intervention phone service with trained phone operators to assist those in crisis. It provides immediate support through listening, and focuses on developing an action plan with the individual in need. Additionally, KUU-US has expanded its capacity to include several additional programs to reduce the risk and incidence of suicide in the British Columbia (BC) region. KUU-US means “people” in Tseshaht language and was created as a result of increasing suicide attempts in Ahousaht from youth various Nuu-chah-nulth members.”

British Columbia

First Nation Action and Support Team

Source: Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“The Gitxsan Health Society focuses on suicide prevention within the context of individual, family, and community health. Through community-based programming, such as the First Nation Action & Support Team (FAST), the Gitxsan Health Society aims to improve mental health and wellness among First Nation youth, families, and communities. Within their work, the Gitxsan Health Society utilizes a framework that involves primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention while also integrating knowledge development, including acknowledgment and development of practices that reflect what is known to work in terms of First Nation youth suicide prevention.”

British Columbia

Aboriginal Suicide Critical Incident Response Team

Source: Promising and best practices: First Nations life promotion (Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council)

“Aboriginal Suicide Critical Incident Response Team (ASCIRT) are community-based response teams located throughout BC committed to empower communities to mobilize in the face of crisis, suicide and its causes. Each team consists of one paid coordinator position and at least one volunteer from each member community to be a part of a larger suicide prevention and response team. The team members are trained in mental health, the delivery of primary suicide prevention messages, and crisis response strategies for suicide attempts and other crises within the community.”

Manitoba

Youth from Opaskwayak Cree Nation shine light on suicide epidemic in new documentary

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/indigenous/opaskwayak-cree-nation-youth-shine-light-on-suicide-epidemic-in-doc-1.3719249 (from Jennifer White)

“A new documentary created by youth from Opaskwayak Cree Nation is shining a light on the suicide epidemic in their home community. The documentary was created in collaboration with Nu-Media, a production company from Winnipeg that tours First Nations to introduce Indigenous youth to film production.”

British Columbia

Bella Bella, B.C.: The town that solved suicide

Source: https://www.macleans.ca/news/bella-bella-the-town-that-solved-suicide/ (from Jennifer White)

This article outlines a transition that has youth at its focus, and facilitating their connection with culture and land. But it is not an individualized intervention: it is multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary, and multi-generational. The article doesn’t look at a single ‘intervention’ but community change over time that came as a result of holistic thinking by a few driven change-makers, bringing businesses, non-profits, and governments on board.

Manitoba

Making music video with teens in Indigenous communities helps plant ‘seed of confidence’

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-garden-hill-music-1.4000524

This article is about “a workshop run by N’We Jinan, a non-profit organization that helps youth across North America make music videos with a mobile recording studio. David Hodges, a Montreal-based music educator, helps run the program. So far he said, N’We Jinan has travelled to more than 30 Indigenous communities in Canada, helping hundreds of youths to work on songs and their music talents.”

Ontario

A youth-driven movement remakes Attiwapiskat

Source: https://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/a-youth-driven-movement-remakes-attawapiskat/ (from Stephanie Wellman)

This article showcases two major youth-led initiatives that have emerged in Attiwapiskat in response to the large number of suicides and the despair that has followed. Through these initiatives youth themselves have changed the narrative about youth to one that is much more hopeful and resilient. Importantly, the narrative helps to reframe the very real problems that exist (housing, resources, etc) from ‘an Indian problem’ to ‘a settler problem.’ [NOTE: Features Chris Musquash]

British Columbia

Indigenous birth keepers advocate for families to stay together

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/indigenous-birth-keepers-advocate-for-families-to-stay-together-1.5059313 (from Jennifer White)

The program is for urban Indigenous pregnant people to provide them safe and culturally appropriate supports during and after pregnancy and birth.

“N’we Jinan is a non-profit organization that develops, implements, and executes artistic and educational programs in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities and schools. This growing roster of programs, including a mobile recording studio, professional artist teaching residencies, and a year-end cross-country festival celebrates and showcases Indigenous voices.”

Region: Global

Stronger Indigenous culture would cut suicide rates, health congress told

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/05/stronger-indigenous-culture-would-cut-suicide-rates-health-congress-told (from Jennifer White)

While global trends indicate that Indigenous populations worldwide suffer higher rates of suicide than non-indigenous people, these statistic contribute to a narrative of despair that doesn’t help the situation. This article features speakers at the WHO gathering in Australia, who point to the role of Indigenous culture in suicide prevention (and criticize government interventions that are exclusive of Indigenous wisdom. [NOTE: Features Carol Hopkins]

Region: Not specific

Gerry’s Journey to Wellness – Teachings in the Air

Source: https://www.teachingsintheair.ca/home (from Janet Newbury)

“Teachings In The Air is a new podcast focusing on Indigenous health and wellness that aims to inspire, motivate, and empower men to be sound in mind, body and spirit – because that’s what health means. Indigenous men’s health is an important component of Indigenous community health.”