CFHI, Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and First Peoples Wellness Circle partner to advance First Nations mental health and wellness

July 15, 2020 – The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and First Peoples Wellness Circle today announced they have signed a new commitment to a partnership agreement focused on advancing First Nations mental health and wellness. In the spirit of collaboration, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) honours and respects the key roles of Thunderbird Partnership Foundation (Thunderbird) and the First Peoples Wellness Circle (First Peoples) as leaders and expert organizations in First Nations mental health and wellness and addressing substance use issues. Extending to March 31, 2021, the commitment to this partnership identifies opportunities to collaborate and work reciprocally in three key areas:

  • Information sharing and capacity development initiatives that include in-person and virtual learning opportunities to develop and deliver information, knowledge, training and development services that benefit the members of all organizations.
  • Mental health system initiatives and the development of lessons learned and wise practices, with a specific focus on life promotion and wellness, to support the continued implementation of the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum (FNMWC) framework in the best interests of the wellbeing of First Nations living in Canada.
  • Organizational collaboration that seeks to support infrastructure, growth and sustainability to create equity for national First Nations organizations which strengthens relationships, partnerships and capacity across all three organizations.

“The partnership we have with Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and First Peoples Wellness Circle is fundamental to our approach and commitment to support the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples and to encourage a vision of reconciliation,” said Jennifer Zelmer, CFHI President and CEO. “We are committed to be guided by the perspectives of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and together we are learning how to enhance relationships that foster cultural humility and safety in health systems.”

“Thunderbird is encouraged through the increased recognition of First Nations culture-based knowledge and practices as the foundation for wellness. The partnership with the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, and First Peoples Wellness Circle comes through determination and meaningful collaboration to ensure action towards building relationships that will support the mental wellness of First Nations people in Canada's healthcare system. Meaningful change requires hard work and the allies created through the effort are critical to ensuring First Nations people's right to health and wellness are respected.” – Carol Hopkins, Executive Director, Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

“FPWC is thrilled to continue its work with CFHI and acknowledges the importance of this next step of our relationship with the signing of the Partnership Agreement. We look forward to investing in best practices to promote mentally well First Nations that are based on the foundation of cultural knowledge and practices in our mutual work with CFHI and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation.” – Dr. Brenda M Restoule, CEO, First Peoples Wellness Circle

CFHI, Thunderbird, and First Peoples share a vision of Canada where the gaps in mental health and wellness outcomes between First Nations and non-Indigenous Canadians are closed, recognizing that First Nations knowledge and culture-based models of wellness are rooted in First Nations community culture.

About CFHI

The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement supports partners to accelerate the identification, spread, and scale of proven healthcare innovations. We work shoulder-to-shoulder with you to improve health and care for everyone in Canada. CFHI is committed to be guided by the perspectives of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, to foster shared learning and enhanced relationships that enable cultural safety and humility in health systems. Together, we can shape better healthcare for everyone in Canada: better patient experience, population health, work life of healthcare providers and value-for-money – now and in the future. CFHI is a not-for-profit organization funded by Health Canada.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada. CFHI acknowledges its office in Ottawa is situated on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people.

About Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

The Thunderbird Partnership Foundation is a non-profit organization and respected as a leader in First Nations in addressing substance use issues and mental health. We are committed to working with First Nations to further the capacity of communities to address substance use and mental health issues through promotion of a holistic approach to healing and wellness that values culture, respect, collaboration, community, and compassion. One of our top priorities is developing a continuum of care that would be available to all First Nations people in Canada.

Honouring Our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nations People in Canada Honouring Our Strengths (HOS) is the foundation for this continuum, outlining community development; services for the prevention, early identification, intervention, and treatment of substance use; and the important roles of mental health and well-being in all aspects of care.

We are also committed to supporting the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum (FNMWC) framework which builds upon the HOS renewal framework, and is rooted in culture-based knowledge, emphasizing First Nations strengths and capacities. As such, our work is guided by the First Nations definition of mental wellness and articulated through four outcomes outlined in the FNMWC: Hope, Belonging, Meaning, and Purpose.

The Thunderbird Partnership Foundation is a member of the Wharerātā Group which is an international network of Indigenous leaders working in mental health and addictions. We share a vision of the near future in which Indigenous Peoples sustain their optimal health and wellbeing and contribute to that vision through strategic use of our Indigenous leadership influence on mental health and addictions systems.

Thunderbird Partnership Foundation was formed in 2015, when the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation (NNAPF) and the Native Mental Health Association of Canada (NMHAC) also formalized their partnership. The union reflects the coming together of substance use issues and mental wellness in a vision for a continuum of care grounded in cultural knowledge. Today, Thunderbird Partnership Foundation operates as a division of NNAPF Inc.

About First Peoples Wellness Circle

The FPWC has its roots in the good work and legacy of the Native Mental Health Association of Canada (NMHAC) that was led by pioneers in the area of Indigenous Mental Health including the founding father Dr. Clare Brant, Joan Glode, Dr. Marlene Brant-Castellano, Dr. William (Bill) Mussell and Robert Allen. Through their pioneering work they highlighted successes of Indigenous communities to address mental health challenges using indigenous knowledge and evidence. In 2015 FPWC created a partnership with the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and together, these organizations represent some of the most current and promising thinking on mental wellness within the First Peoples of Canada.

FPWC is a national not-for-profit corporation that is governed and managed by Indigenous leaders and exists to improve the lives of Canada’s First Peoples by addressing healing, wellness, and other mental health challenges shaped by cultural knowledge and evidence. Our mission is to “advocate for collaborative transformative change to create pathways to wellness and whole health for First Peoples shaped by diverse Indigenous cultural lenses”. FPWC has a mandate from the First Nation Mental Wellness Continuum Framework and work with Mental Wellness Teams providing comprehensive supports to this workforce. The Board co-chair states “we are building on what we have learned from our forefathers and foremothers, while still evolving and learning from other traditions and practices around the world. Our work is based on the Indigenous value system of caring and sharing. We are committed to integrating the best of all worlds— using the optimal tools we can get to support the healing and wellness or our people.”