Ontario Providing Mental Health and Wellness Funding to the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
TORONTO — Ontario is providing $812,500 to the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres to help raise awareness, reduce stigma and support Indigenous-led mental health and wellness initiatives for Indian Residential School (IRS) Survivors, families and communities across the province.
The funding will be used to provide access to cultural-based workshops, traditional healing activities and education initiatives that foster self-respect and identity and help improve mental health and emotional supports. Funding will also be used to raise awareness for individuals, families and communities of the history and impacts of the IRS system. This funding is in addition to dedicated funding being provided to First Nations leading burial investigations at former Residential Schools across the province.
“It is critical that culturally appropriate, trauma-informed mental health supports are available for Indian Residential School Survivors, their families and Indigenous communities,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “Our government continues to seek direction from Indigenous partners on their funding needs for Indian Residential School burial investigations, including funding for critical mental health supports.”
Ontario continues to engage with Indigenous leaders, Residential School Survivors, Indigenous Elders, communities and organizations to seek ongoing guidance on how to best support IRS-related work and to facilitate access to funding as seamlessly as possible.
“The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) is pleased with the announcement from the Ontario government to uphold its promises of supporting Residential school survivors. This pledge of $812,500 will help support the strenuous work of raising awareness, reducing stigma, and supporting the Mental health and well-being of those touched by the appalling shadow of Indian residential schools. We look forward to working further with the Ontario government and partners to advocate for further advancement of the support of Indigenous peoples by Indigenous peoples.”
Gertie Mai Muise
Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
· The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) represents the collective interests of 29 Friendship Centres in cities and towns across the province. Friendship Centres are places for community members and Indigenous people living in urban spaces to gather, connect with one another and receive culturally relevant services.
· Ontario is committed to an Indigenous-led process and is ready to move at the appropriate pace as determined by Indigenous partners. All phases of this painful work must be Indigenous-led, community supported and undertaken with respect for the pace, timelines, and objectives of Indigenous partners.
· Roughly 8,000 of Canada’s estimated 80,000 Indian Residential School Survivors lived in Ontario at the time of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement
· On October 29, 2021, the province announced an investment of more than $36 million in community-led mental health and addictions supports for Indigenous communities across the province, including supports for residential school Survivors and their families.
· On November 4, 2021, the Ontario government announced it was committing an additional $10 million in funding, beyond the original $10 million announcement in June 2021, to support the identification, investigation, protection and commemoration of Indian Residential School (IRS) burials across the province.
· A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students. You can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. There is also the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310, including an online chat function through their website.
· Ontario Federation of Independent Friendship Centres
· Ontario Investing in Mental Health and Addictions Supports for Indigenous Communities
· Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program
· Residential Schools Missing Children – Community Support Funding
· Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 71 to 76
· National Residential School Crisis Line
· Hope for Wellness Help Line
The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC)
416-956-7575, Ext. 417