Inuit organizations are slated to receive money from Ottawa to help deal with the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. (File image)

Feds earmark more money for Inuit mental health during pandemic

“Community-driven, culturally appropriate and timely mental health supports are critical” during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Jane George

More money will be channelled from Ottawa over the coming months to Inuit organizations to improve mental health services for Inuit.

“Community-driven, culturally appropriate and timely mental health supports are critical during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marc Miller, the minister of Indigenous Services, when he announced on Aug. 25 that $82.5 million had been earmarked for mental health services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

“In almost all of the discussions that I have had with First Nations, Inuit and Métis representatives since the beginning of the pandemic, the importance of recognizing and supporting mental wellness as a core need of the COVID-19 response has been communicated regularly.”

“Community-driven, culturally appropriate and timely mental health supports are critical to promote the well-being for anyone struggling to cope with the added stress and anxiety the COVID-19 pandemic has created.”

The money, whose distribution among Inuit organizations has not yet been announced, will go to expand access to services such as on-the-land activities, community-based health supports and mental wellness teams, a background document said.

The money will help pay for adapting mental health services, such as virtual counselling, developing new strategies to address substance use and improving access to treatment services.

During his announcement, Miller cited the huge increase in the use of the Hope for Wellness Help Line.

From January to April 2019, it received 3,602 calls and chats from individuals seeking crisis intervention services, but that jumped to more than 10,000 calls and chats during the same period in 2020, “representing a 178 per cent increase in demand,” Miller said.

Access to many mental wellness services for Indigenous communities has been disrupted or has shifted to virtual and telehealth approaches, while many remote communities struggle with limited connectivity, a news release on the announcement said.

While this has led to further challenges, it also has led to new and innovative approaches to wellness, it said.

The federal government has already announced a total of $610 million to help Indigenous communities—including Inuit communities—cope with the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, through its Indigenous Support Fund, first in March and again in August.

Recently, Ottawa announced that schools would receive money to increase COVID-19 prevention. Of that, Nunavut will receive $5.75 million to improve school safety.

If you’re struggling with mental health issues, you can call the following organizations:

  • Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310
  • Kamatsiaqtut Nunavut Helpline: 1-800-265-3333
  • Elders’ Support Line: 1-866-684-5056
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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by pissed off on

    Nice to throw money at the problem but who will deliver this much needed help?
    Who is qualified to do it?
    Who is already in place that either is not qualified to do it or that is qualified but is not doing the job for a number of reasons m?
    That is the real question that we must ask.
    We have been talking for decades about wellness and the need for support but has it only been just ltalk ?

    More conferences and written strategies will not do it.


    • Posted by No Moniker on

      These are important questions and we should expect to see how this money was used by the organizations who will receive it, yet I don’t think we ever will. As I see it the lack of accountability is made possible by a sort of naive romanticism, that by some magic of identity Inuit, who “know what’s best for Inuit” will somehow allocate these resources in the most effective way possible. It’s not unlike the myth that still circulates that every part of the whale is used when one is caught. At a time in the past that was surely true. It’s not so true now.
      On the one hand it’s true that no one knows the issues of Nunavut better than Inuit. Yet that in and of itself does not lead to conclusion that Inuit organizations are likely to use this money even remotely well. Outsiders especially, in this case the government of Canada, allow themselves to be blinded to proper questions of accountability by overriding concerns of proving allyship to what we call a “marginalized group.” True or not, this is code for thou shalt not question. This is the perverse universe that identity politics has found us in.
      Beneficiaries should form a watch dog group that holds these orgs accountable for the funds they receive that are directed at specific purposes like this. The least you can ask, and expect to know, is who really benefits from these funds in the end?
      No one else is going to do that work, unfortunately. Some might suggest this is the roll of local media, yet I rarely see them hold organizations or Government accountable, for the same reasons listed above.

  2. Posted by Inuit Orgs? Why? on

    What does NTI and the Inuit orgs have to do with mental health? Why wouldn’t this money go to the Department of Health, who delivers services in territory? It’s like giving money to build a hospital to the local hockey club to administer.

  3. Posted by Highfalutin, hoping not on

    • Honestly I’m grateful that we, of First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Aboriginals of Canada, are at least not forgotten or dismissed Canadien’s in the pandemic or epidemic. At least they’re a little bit better then the last time a pandemic or epidemic hit Canada.
    • I do understand why they would say embellished words while put more money in what we hope and need in mental health core needs.
    • The overwhelmed health care system if your lucky to have a doctor in your community and obsolete mental health care services if you have a qualified worker, if any worker at all.
    • Their wording was beautifully political to a T. If we all know what I mean. While some of the good pilot projects that were on the table got pushed back or taken off of the table because of COVID-19.
    • I must ask, The guidelines that I saw and understood with their criterium, really did defeat some of the purpose of Community-driven, culturally appropriate and timely mental health supports programs.
    • In honesty it is a milestone in Our Canadian history that we can have choices. Sadly still most of the Populous of First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Aboriginals of Canada, will never really know or fully understand what choices we have or what is out there.
    • We still need to keep this up, these never ending talks for our rights, freedoms, to our own Canadian Government. To one day have what typical Canadians that have access to Information, in some cases consent and understanding; the consequences or actions, of what is being done for us.
    • I can understand it is political mumbo-jumbo and extravagant debates that are elaborating for some the demographic populous. With all that going on still trying to catch up with the times on wording them in our own languages: if we did not lose them.

  4. Posted by Jake on

    Posted by Mandate Man
    Interesting that money is being funneled by the federal government to Inuit organizations for health services. My comments relate to two questions:
    One, what is the mandate of the Inuit organizations vs the Nunavut government?
    Two, what is the capacity of the Inuit organizations to deliver community-driven, culturally appropriate and timely health supports vs the Nunavut government?

    You can like it or not but it is a reality that when the Nunavut government was created it was mandated to handle health services for the citizens of Nunavut. Inuit are the majority of the population so it is rather confusing that another organization is needed to address health services.

    Fragmentation of funding weakens the service for all citizens. Should the capacity or capability not be there by the Nunavut government then surely funding should be provided to strengthen and build that capacity. It becomes unproductive to have various agencies cutting up the financial pie to provide health services from various fronts. There is a lot at stake here. Fragmentation of funding is a serious issue for all people of Nunavut. The adequacy of the Nunavut health system is being weakened.

    This is a strong policy concern for the Nunavut government which should address this issue with the federal government, defend their turf and strengthen their policy responsibilities.

  5. Posted by Dingleberry on

    Throwing money without proper cultural gap education is useless. We cycle through social workers faster than insects multiply in the summer. And it’s always the same, inane shit. “Why don’t you move?”, “What can we do to help*?” And “help” doesn’t apply if you know your own diagnosis and try to ask for help in that field. They want to tell you to go take a walk and move to the Big City like that’s a cure for systematic racism, generational abuse, and a complete lack of social safety nets. If we did enough yoga, ate enough green plants, we’d be okay! That’s what they tell each other so why NOT copy/paste the same useless shit to us? And then wash your hands of us because your 1.5 years in ye Great North is over, you guys zapped enough of our land and culture to fuel your endeavours with your white peers. Time for a complete reset, repeat for whoever is the next fresh face to ask the same questions and give the same fruitless advice until THEY grow and benefit from pretending they’ve helped us dirty, ungrateful Inuit /sarcasm

    But hey, more $$$$, how grand.

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