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Coordinated with guidance from the national Indigenous organizations, youth, and our two co-chairs, Thunderbird Partnership Foundation (TPF) and International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) the Forum celebrated successes in Indigenous community mental wellness and resilience and provided an opportunity for indigenous people to continue the conversation.

Indigenous peoples and communities face higher rates of suicide in Canada and across the world. In Canada the suicide rate for Indigenous is five to seven times higher than for other Canadians. Research has shown that there are unique risk factors for Indigenous, including experiences of colonization and the combined effects of historic traumai , marginalization from wider societyii, and broader socio-economic conditions such as employment and housing. Indigenous endured losses during colonization including loss of culture, language and place in wider society. Recovery and healing will include a revitalization of culture and languageiii, and progress on reconciliation in Canada may also be a protective factor as it increases Indigenous inclusion and pride.

Throughout the history of colonization in Canada, First Nations, Inuit and Métis have demonstrated remarkable resilience. Any discussion about Indigenous suicide prevention must be balanced with the evidence of strength and resilience in Indigenous peoples and communities. In recognition of this reality, CFHI hosted the International Forum on Life Promotion to Address Indigenous Suicide in partnership with TPF, and the IIMHL.

The Forum brought together national and international Indigenous leaders in mental wellness, allies and stakeholders to:

  • Validate what is known about Indigenous suicide prevention.
  • Celebrate successes in Indigenous community mental wellness and resilience.
  • Deepen understanding on Indigenous ways of holistic life promotion - belonging, hope, meaning and purpose.
  • Raise public awareness of the resilience in Indigenous culture and knowledge, and the role for everybody in Canada to contribute to Indigenous safety. Indigenous youth belong in Canada – #WeBelong2016

We gave participants the opportunity to discuss their vision for reconciliation.
Hear their perspectives »

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Youth lead plenary discussions

The International Forum was an invitation-only event with participants from Canada, USA, New Zealand Australia, Greenland, and Chile.

Planning of the Forum was supported by an advisory committee with members from the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis National Council, and CFHI’s Northern and Remote Collaborative representing provincial and territorial health and mental health systems.

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Bombay, Amy. The intergenerational effects of Indian Residential Schools: Implications for the concept of historical trauma. In Transcultural Psychiatry June 2014 v.51(3) p.320-338.
ii Advisory Group on Suicide Prevention (Canada), Assembly of First Nations., & Canada. (2003). Acting on what we know: Preventing youth suicide in First Nations: the report of the Advisory Group on Suicide Prevention. Ottawa: Health Canada.
iii Morris, Marika & Claire Crooks. Structural and cultural factors in suicide prevention: the contrast between mainstream and Inuit approaches to understanding and preventing suicide. In Journal of Social Work Practice: Psychtherapeutic Approaches in Health, Welfare and the Community v.29(3) 2015.