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$2.1 Million Allocated to Support Indigenous-Led Mental Health and Addictions Programming

The Manitoba government will provide $2.1 million through the Indigenous Reconciliation Initiatives Fund to support Indigenous-led mental health and wellness programming.

The Fund was created to challenge Indigenous and non-Indigenous Manitobas to engage in new innovative approaches to reconciliation and contribute to the outcomes of improving relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Manitobans and improving the lives of Indigenous peoples in economic development, job creation and educational initiatives. The Fund also supports activities and projects that aline with the Path to Reconciliation Act, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and align with government priorities as expressed in the provincial Speech from the Throneministerial mandate letters, the 100-Day Action Plan, and other provincial strategies and priorities. 

In the announcement made by Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke, the $2.1 million will supplement existing emergency response efforts and assist communities in providing Indigenous-led supports.

“I would like to commend Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization for their collaborative work in addressing the needs of communities across the province to promote the well-being of those in communities who need it most, especially in the north.”

Through one-time capacity grants, the Manitoba government has partnered on the following projects:

  • Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO): $1.069 million to support its all-Indigenous mobile crisis response team to provide mental health crisis response for First Nations across Manitoba. The response team includes Indigenous community members who blend experiential, academic and traditional knowledge to provide culturally sensitive crisis support for those who need it most.
  • Southern Chiefs’ Organization: $1.069 million for its mobile crisis response team to increase capacity to deliver emergency responses across southern First Nations. The team will comprise 11 members with diverse knowledge and skills who are trauma-informed and culturally sensitive to provide a holistic response for southern Manitoba First Nations experiencing crisis incidents.

“We acknowledge the contribution from the Manitoba government and their support of the important work our mobile crisis response team does for our communities,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.

The MKO Mobile Crisis Response Team supports 63 Manitoba First Nations with their mental health and has experienced a surge in mental-health crises across the province. According to Greg Fontaine, manager of the MKO Mobile Crisis Response Team the past two years, they have experienced an increase of up to 50 per cent in the number of services they provide. The team provides holistic, culturally sensitive, and safe crisis response trauma intervention through critical incident stress debriefing, sharing circles, one-on-one counselling, mental health therapy, and other mental health and wellness services. 

“Supporting southern First Nation citizens, families, and communities during times of crisis is of utmost importance to me and my fellow leaders,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, Southern Chiefs’ Organization. “All First Nation citizens have a right to proper health and health services. By increasing our reach with our mobile crisis response team, we can provide heightened trauma-informed and culturally appropriate mental health and wellness services, thus increasing the opportunities for healing and, ultimately, more positive outcomes and success stories for our Anishinaabe and Dakota peoples.”

These initiatives align with the Manitoba government’s five-year plan to improve wellness, mental health, substance use and addiction services and programs.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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