AFN Says Substantial Investments for Mental Wellness in First Nations are Essential in Closing the Health Gap Between First Nations and Canada

Published: Oct 10, 2019News

(Ottawa, ON) – On World Mental Health Day, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) urges all federal leaders commit to substantial investments for mental wellness for First Nations as a top priority and to work diligently with First Nations and ensure First Nations enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

“We must work together to improve the health and wellbeing of all First Nations and ensure we close the gap by developing health services that are driven by First Nations, that respect our rights and incorporate traditional health and healing practices” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.  “I believe our culture, languages and traditions have an integral role in achieving overall health and wellness.  One of the priorities we are seeking during this federal election is a commitment from all parties to substantive, long term and flexible funding that supports a holistic approach to First Nations health and wellbeing. We are the youngest, fastest growing population. Healthy First Nations will make a stronger country for all of us.”

On September 9, 2019, the AFN unveiled its agenda for the next government, Honouring Promises: 2019 Federal Elections Priorities for First Nations and Canada which sets out a comprehensive agenda for reconciliation and closing the gap. The AFN continues to work directly with First Nations to advocate for appropriate supports and investments for First Nations-led approaches, with the intent of creating initiatives, policies, funding mechanisms, programs and services that are culturally relevant and provide proven results to all First Nations across Canada.

“It is incredibly important for me to highlight World Mental Health Day, because mental wellness continues to be a priority that is overlooked, and requires all our attention, support and energy,” said AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek, who holds the Mental Wellness portfolio for AFN.  “The theme this year focuses on suicide prevention, which connects with so many of us and our communities. We are losing our community members, and especially our young people at an alarming rate. Everyone has a role to play in supporting mental wellness and our young people need to know their lives matter. We continue to advocate for increased investments in mental health services and suicide prevention programs, and we also need to address the fundamental determinants of health such as access to clean water, education and proper housing. We must learn from our past and present realities and ensure mental wellness remains a top focus to ensure stronger and healthier futures for our children.”

World Mental Health Day is presented by the World Federation of Mental Health and recognized annually on October 10.

Read Honouring Promises: 2019 Federal Elections Priorities for First Nations and Canada here:

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

For more information, please contact:

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 244
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]