AFN National Chief Bellegarde welcomes funding to support First Nations mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Aug 25, 2020News

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is pleased that the federal government is stepping up to provide $82.5 million dollars to support Indigenous mental health programs, with $55 million specifically earmarked for First Nations.

“It is good to see the federal government and Minister Miller recognize this issue and provide additional resources to help First Nations peoples and families get through the pandemic,” National Chief Bellegarde said of the government’s announcement. “As we approach the opening of schools, First Nations families must also have the resources necessary to protect their loved ones. Parents must be able to access all available options; this includes First Nations attending on-reserve schools and those who are attending off-reserve schools.”

Today, the Canadian Government announced $82.5 million towards urgent Indigenous mental wellness supports that are culturally safe and community-based. The funding will aid adaption of existing mental health and wellness supports to adjust to the current realities of COVID-19, including the transition of some programs to virtual platforms, while also allowing for improved access to additional services. This financial support will also help Indigenous partners in developing new ways to address substance use and improve access to treatment.

Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek holds the Mental Health portfolio at the AFN.

“This announcement is an important first step in responding to the mental health and wellness issues and impacts that COVID-19 has magnified in First Nations communities. First Nations have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining matters that affect us. Our youth are often reminding us all of this important approach — ‘nothing for us, without us.’ We know mental wellness and issues impacting First Nations need culturally safe and relevant responses to their concerns. First Nations organizations will continue to lead the work in responding to these issues, and we welcome this new and deeply needed approach,” stated Regional Chief Kluane Adamek.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]