$10m to support Indigenous communities to address substance-related harms


Ottawa – To help support Indigenous communities respond to the overdose crisis and address harms related to substance use, the Government of Canada has announced nearly $10 million in funding for 16 innovative community-led projects across Canada.

With this funding, these projects will help improve health outcomes for Indigenous people who are at risk of experiencing substance-related harms and overdose by scaling up prevention, harm reduction and treatment efforts across the country.

Funding is provided through the Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP), which supports evidence-informed and innovative initiatives across a range of interventions-health promotion, prevention, harm reduction and treatment-involving a broad range of legal and illegal substances.

Alberta ($268,115)

Asokan- Bridging Indigenous Programming
Alberta Health Services – Youth Addictions and Forensic Mental Health – Edmonton, AB
$268,115 over 18 months to support and offer Indigenous-based programs to Indigenous youth (12-18 years old) and their families dealing with polysubstance use across northern Alberta. Seventy-five staff will be trained on matters affecting Indigenous families and on Indigenous culture and history.

British Columbia ($2,182,330)

Recruiting Indigenous Health Care Professionals to British Columbia’s interdisciplinary Addictions Medicine Fellowship Program
St. Paul’s Foundation of Vancouver – Vancouver, British Columbia
$1,044,882 over 18 months to support seven interdisciplinary learners identified by BC’s First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and the Indigenous Physician’s Association of Canada (IPAC) to participate in and complete the BC Centre on Substance Use’s (BCCSU) Interdisciplinary Addiction Medicine Fellowship program. Once their training is complete, clinicians will provide care to more than 1000 people and provide recommendations on policy changes to promote culturally safe services and learning environments. The BCCSU’s Fellowship program provides clinical training, mentorship, as well as leadership training to thousands of overdose response workers across parts of BC. This program works to reduce racism and discriminatory behavior in healthcare services within Indigenous communities located throughout areas facing critical shortages.

Incorporating Cultural Safety Within Required and Recommended Substance Use Learning Platforms for Health Care Professionals
St. Paul’s Foundation Vancouver – Vancouver, BC
$433,416 over 18 months to develop a revised curriculum for the substance use workforce that delivers harm reduction and treatment services to Indigenous people at higher risk of opioid overdose and to those facing barriers to care due to racism in the healthcare system. The new online learning platforms will be created in consultation with the BC FNHA’s Indigenous-led Integrated Addictions Care Partnership, to address racism in healthcare. The curriculum will be embedded within the BCCSU Nursing program, Addictions Care and Treatment Online program, and Provincial Opioid Agonist Treatment Support programs.

Indigenous Harm Reduction Support Services for a Post-Pandemic BC
Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society – Vancouver, BC
$329,316 over 18 months to provide wraparound services (transportation, mental health counseling, and crisis intervention) to young Indigenous women. The project will also give opportunities for safe discussions related to substance use; connect people who are street-involved or experiencing homelessness with needed addiction and support services. This project will help connect Nisga’a community members with Indigenous cultural and family supports to harm reduction strategies. The project will also enable people living in the area to have better access to system navigation services such as pain management, addictions treatment, counselling and elder support.

Peer Outreach through a Métis Lens
Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) – Surrey, BC
$374,716 over 18 months to develop an outreach team that will distribute condoms and harm reduction supplies such as clean needles and pipes and connect with underserved Métis people living in Surrey and Downtown Eastside Vancouver. This outreach initiative will emphasize the delivery of culturally appropriate services.

Manitoba ($919,738)

Harm Reduction Opportunities & Empowerment (HOPE) Wings of Power Inc. – Pine Falls, Manitoba
$137,537 over 18 months to provide harm reduction and mobile outreach services for people living with lower incomes or at increased risks of substance use harms. The project aims to provide better access to health services and counselling. The project will also include the distribution of drug testing kits, peer support groups and education for family members.

F.I.R.E. with F.I.R.E (Fully Informed Risk Education with a Foundation of Individual Recovery Experiences) – Ishkotay Aputchitoon Tchi Meekaatamun Ishkotay
Southeast Resource Development Council Corp. – Winnipeg, MB
$782,201 over 18 months to dispatch outreach teams of trained peer workers to seven Manitoba First Nation communities to provide substance use awareness resources, overdose training, first aid certification and take-home naloxone kits.

Newfoundland-Labrador ($274,149)

Harm Reduction Hub
Nunatsiavut Government – Goose Bay, N.L
$274,149 over 18 months to create a safe gathering space, guided by the Inuit culture, for Inuit people in Labrador at increased risks of substance use harms.. Participants will have access to food, clothing, harm reduction supplies, health care professionals, counselors or peer support workers. Inuit people with lived experience of substance use, trauma and addiction will lead the project.

Northwest Territories ($190,278)

Helping our People: A Harm Reduction and Strategic Healing Response to the impacts from COVID 19 in the NWT First Nations Communities
Tl’oondih Healing Society – Fort McPherson, NWT
$190,278 over 18 months to develop a culturally appropriate harm reduction approach to drug and alcohol use for men at risk of serious health issues and overdose in isolated communities in the Northwest Territories. A harm reduction guide will be developed and provided to families of individuals struggling with substance use.

Ontario ($3,149,328)

Reducing barriers to conservative spine care to minimize opioid exposure: A global spine care implementation project
World Spine Care – Canada – Toronto, ON
$580,369 over 18 months to work with local stakeholders to explore customization and uptake of the Global Spine Care Initiative Model of Care and treatment approach for the conservative management of spine problems in Pimicikamak (Cross Lake First Nation), northern Manitoba. The goal of this project is to help reduce opioid prescribing to treat low back pain and spinal issues. The project will study the impact of the use of opioids for spinal disorders in the community, work with local stakeholders to identify the barriers and engage with facilitators to implement a culturally modified Model of Care.

Enhancing Capacity to Deliver Culturally-Safe Harm Reduction Services to High-Risk Aboriginal Community Members in Toronto
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto – Toronto, ON
$474,272 over 18 months to implement a culturally-informed harm reduction model at the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto’s (NCFST) transitional housing sites and Youth Services Drop-In Centre in Downtown Toronto. The project will develop and deliver culturally appropriate harm reduction training to 45 NCFST staff members. This funding will also allow the hiring of people with lived experiences to build NCFST’s capacity to deliver wraparound harm reduction and mental health supports in a stigma-free and culturally supportive environment. This project will support Toronto’s Indigenous community members at increased risks of substance use harms, people who use substances, 2SLGBTQI+ youth, and people experiencing poverty and/or homelessness.

Assertive Community Treatment and Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (ACT for RAAM)
Grey Bruce Health Services – Owen Sound, ON
$1,334,762 over 18 months to provide substance use and mental health services in Indigenous Health Centres in two remote Ontario First Nation communities (Saugeen First Nation and Neyaashiinigmiing) experiencing high rates of substance use. The services will include providing direct access to primary care providers who can prescribe medication to support opioid and alcohol withdrawal management, offering mobile prescription deliveries and home visits, supporting peer outreach workers, and providing harm reduction services such as overdose prevention, naloxone kits and access to safer drug use supplies, such as clean needles or pipes.

True Self Outreach Peer Support Project
Nipissing First Nation Indian Band #220 – Garden Village, ON
$305,803 over 18 months to add an outreach peer support component to their existing “True Self Employment and Training” program. This program will provide individuals and their families with community outreach, peer support and access to services that promote safety, self-sufficiency and wellbeing to participants and their families. This program will support people experiencing mental illness, addiction, abuse, housing insecurity, homelessness, economic insecurity, people on probation or parole, as well as those living with a concurrent illness. It will facilitate safe community outreach by providing personal protective equipment and drug testing kits, workshops, employment and training supports, holistic healing and talking circles, referrals and peer support.

Ratihahí:saks “They Search for a Path”: Overdose Prevention and Harm Reduction Program
Six Nations of the Grand River – Ohsweken, ON
$454,122 over 18 months to deliver an overdose prevention and harm reduction program that will provide harm reduction education, supplies, and outreach services in a culturally safe and relevant manner to service providers, individuals who use substances, and community members of Six Nations of the Grant River. Ratihahi:saks is a community-based program that will be guided by and for community members with lived and living experience. The project will support service providers, and people who use substances, as well as people who want to learn about overdose prevention and response including family and friends of those who are using substances.

Saskatchewan ($2,676,420)

We-sit-u-win (Coming Together)
Saskatoon Tribal Council Health and Family Services Inc. – Saskatoon, SK
$2,557,060 over 18 months to create an Indigenous-focused urban healing program aimed at helping participants transition through a harm reduction continuum from outreach to detox, and then to treatment and recovery services. The program will hire an Indigenous-led care team, and will include land-based cultural knowledge, Elder support, healing circles, ceremonies and use of traditional medicine. This project supports Indigenous people living in the urban core area of Saskatoon who experience homelessness, are at risk of homelessness, and/or who are living with mental health issues and substance use harms. This project will also train outreach staff in crisis response, mental health first aid, compassionate communications, and addiction awareness, including harm reduction and home detox principles.

The Niiyanaan Pimatishihk Miyooayaan Pilot Project
Persons Living With AIDS Network of Saskatchewan Inc. – Saskatoon, SK
$119,360 over 18 months to launch a pilot project to support Indigenous people living with HIV or at risk of contracting HIV, who are also living with an addiction and struggling with their mental health. The project will help address an existing gap between the time an individual identifies the need for treatment and the time the individual receives support. Housing services and support will be available to ensure the transition from a care facility does not result in individuals having to experience homelessness.