Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, First Peoples Wellness Circle and Healthcare Excellence Canada, to Partner to Advance First Nations Mental Health and Wellness

November 24, 2021

Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, First Peoples Wellness Circle and Healthcare Excellence Canada, to Partner to Advance First Nations Mental Health and Wellness

November 24, 2021 – Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, First Peoples Wellness Circle and Healthcare Excellence Canada, today announced a new Commitment to Partnership, focused on advancing First Nations mental health and wellness.  

Extending to March 31, 2022, the commitment to this partnership identifies opportunities to collaborate and work reciprocally in four key areas: 

  • Information sharing and capacity development initiatives in areas of mutual interest  
  • Mental health system initiatives including the development and sharing of lessons learned and wise practices, to support the continued implementation of the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework 
  • Organizational collaboration that seeks to support infrastructure, growth, and sustainability to create equity for National First Nations organizations  
  • Collaboration to explore how to support organizational learning to enhance cultural safety and humility and to take action on racism experienced by First Nations patients and their families in the healthcare system 

“Relationships are critical to First Nations Mental Wellness. Relationships with allies are significant for ensuring to safe healthcare, to equitable access and availability of mental wellness resources.  This is reconciliation in action.  Healthcare Excellence Canada and First Peoples Wellness Circle are such allies and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation is thankful for the synergy in our relationship that results in meaningful change.” said Carol Hopkins, Chief Executive Officer, Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. “Taking the time to create the partnership agreement is like a contemporary process of treaty making.  Taking time to listen, understand, and nurture mutual respect is key to ensuring we create a future of excellence in mental wellness for all, including First Nations.” 

“Advancing the recognition and understanding of cultural knowledge as a meaningful and necessary component to mentally well First Nation citizens and communities requires ongoing efforts at advocacy and highlighting practice-based evidence. Through our partnership with Healthcare Excellence Canada and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, we continue to demonstrate our collective intentions at decolonizing health systems to ensure First Nations people have culturally competent and safe services for wellbeing. FPWC recognizes collaborative partnerships with non-Indigenous organizations such as HEC builds allyship that ensure equitable rights to health and wellbeing for First Nations are achieved,” said Dr. Brenda Restoule, First Peoples Wellness Circle. 

“HEC is continuing to learn how to respectfully support reconciliation efforts, including developing and nurturing meaningful relationships which are grounded in reciprocity and trust. The partnership we have with Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and First Peoples Wellness Circle is fundamental to our approach towards reconciliation and our commitment to supporting the health and wellness of First Nations, Inuit and Métis,” said Jennifer Zelmer, HEC President and CEO. “As a non-Indigenous organization, we are committed to being guided by the perspectives of First Nations, Inuit and Métis and together building relationships that foster cultural humility and safety in health systems.” 

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) which brought forward early evidence of the successes of Indigenous communities to address mental health challenges using indigenous knowledge and evidence. Due to a shift in prioritizing how capacity is built in addressing Indigenous mental health issues, NMHAC concluded its original intention and announced the new entity of FPWC in 2015.  

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 leads work on healing centered care that is grounded in First Nation culture and values that encompasses collective strengths based healing, care, compassion and resiliency to address impacts of colonial traumas that harm First Nation people. The Board Chair, William (Bill) Mussell 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 of our people.” 

FPWC gets its mandate from the First Nation Mental Wellness Continuum Framework. The Framework is a comprehensive model that provides important principles and practical steps for providing comprehensive, culturally relevant, and culturally safe community-based services for First Nations communities. Ultimately, it is intended to create systemic changes that highlights the importance of culture as foundational to all work on mental wellness that is led and owned by First Nation communities. Through these principles FPWC works with the mental wellness workforce to provide comprehensive supports using cultural knowledge and practices to build mental wellness in First Nation communities. All of our work seeks to implement the key elements of the First Nation Mental Wellness Continuum Framework.

FPWC formed a partnership with Thunderbird Partnership Foundation in 2015 to collectively work on issues of substance use and mental health from a continuum of care for mental wellness that holds culture at its core. Together, FPWC and Thunderbird are viewed as the leading voices of First Nation mental wellness in Canada.

About Healthcare Excellence Canada 

Healthcare Excellence Canada (HEC) is an organization with a relentless focus on improving healthcare, with – and for – everyone in Canada. Launched in March 2021 from the amalgamation of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, HEC works with partners to turn proven innovations into widespread and lasting improvement in safety and all dimensions of healthcare excellence.  HEC is an independent, not-for-profit charity funded primarily by Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

Healthcare Excellence Canada honours the traditional territories upon which our staff and partners live, work and play. We recognize that the stewardship of the original inhabitants of these territories provides for the standard of living that we enjoy today.