Working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis

Strategic Direction #5 – Summary Version

First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures and holistic understandings of the world have much to contribute to the transformation of the mental health system in Canada.  The priorities identified in this Strategic Direction are important for everyone living in Canada, just as the rest of the priorities and recommendations for action set out in the Strategyalso apply to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.

This Strategic Direction includes distinct streams for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.  This approach respects the important differences in the culture and history of each group, and the distinct rights established through treaties, legislation, self-government agreements, and other means.  At the same time, some common priorities have been identified regarding the mental health needs of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in urban and rural areas, and with respect to several complex social issues that have an impact on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis mental health regardless of where people live.

Priorities for action have been developed through on-going dialogue with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis National Council, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and other stakeholder organizations, such as the National Association of Friendship Centres.

This Strategic Direction places a strong emphasis on efforts by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis families and communities to heal from the intergenerational impact of residential schools, child welfare policies, and other aspects of colonization that have undermined mental wellness. To support this healing process, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis — wherever they reside — need access to a full continuum of culturally safe mental health services, treatments and supports, delivered through a collaboration of mainstream and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis organizations.  On-going efforts by all levels of government to address systemic issues such as racism, governance, and poverty are also needed.

Although suicide is not a universal problem in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, it is a significant challenge in many such communities across the country. Just as for the population as a whole, mental health and suicide need to be addressed together.

 

Priorities 

  • FIRST NATIONS STREAM: Establish a coordinated continuum of mental wellness services (mental health and substance use services) for and by First Nations, which includes traditional, cultural, and mainstream approaches.
  • INUIT STREAM: Establish a coordinated continuum of mental wellness services (mental health and substance use services) for and by Inuit, which includes traditional, cultural, and clinical approaches.
  • MÉTIS STREAM: Build Métis capacity to improve mental health and to improve access to mental health and addictions services through meaningful, inclusive, and equitable engagement processes and research.
  • Strengthen the response to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis urban and rural mental health issues, and to complex social issues that affect mental health.

For a full version of this Strategic Direction, including the recommendations for action, download the Strategy