$1-million for Indigenous men’s mental health in Manitoba, Canada

A photo from Arviat in Canada’s Arctic territory of Nunavut where Movember has funded previous land-based programs. Parts of the recently announced men’s addiction programming in Churchill, Manitoba will be influenced by the projects in other parts of northern Canada. (Movember)
The Movember organization will contribute $1-million to an Indigenous mental health addictions program in northern Manitoba, saying such programs are much needed in Canada’s sub-Arctic.

“Oftentimes, people who require addictions and mental health support in the Churchill community and surrounding regions are sent to Winnipeg or Ottawa, far from the support of their own family and the broader community,” Sonia Prevost-Derbecker, Director of Global Indigenous Programs for Movember, said in a news release, speaking of cities in southern Canada.

“Sadly, many people arrive in these locations as strangers with limited local connections and emotional support. It is clearly time for a different model – one that is led for and by Indigenous people and operates in the North.”

The money will go to the new Churchill Wellness Centre, which is expected to open this fall, and will be distributed over three years. 

Focus on Indigenous culture

The programming will be geared to men, with an emphasis on land-based activities and traditional skills.

“The centre will strive to apply an  Indigenous lens to re-establish a connection to the land’s culture and to the historic identity of participants,” Movember said. “Social connectivity has shown to play a pivotal role in positive mental health outcomes in men and continues to be the basis of many Movember programs, Indigenous-focused and beyond.”

An aerial view of Churchill, Manitoba, is shown on Wednesday, July 4, 2018. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Movember says the programming will be facilitated through the Subarctic Friendship Circle and The Knowledge Keepers, a local community group made up of First Nations and Inuit. 

“These groups will work to ensure the Centre’s programs are inclusive and representative of the many Indigenous nations that call Churchill home,” the organization said. 

Addressing health disparities among Indigenous men

Churchill Mayor, Mike Spence said in a news release that allowing people to access treatment close to home is an important step. 

“The development of this centre offers our community the opportunity to provide mental health support to Indigenous people where they live in a way that is respectful of their heritage and their culture while, at the same time, allowing them to remain closer  to their natural support networks.”

Churchill mayor Mike Spence (pictured here in 2018) says offering addictions treatment to people near friends and family is important for the Churchill area. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Movember said the focus on men is a result of a community consultation that health disparities among Indigenous men in and around Churchill were troubling.

“It was identified that young men across the region seem to experience that disparity even more strongly than other members of the community,” Movember said.  “Young men in Manitoba’s North are more at risk of adverse impacts insufficient access to health services, healthy food, or mental health services or to experience poverty and unemployment.”

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Mental health in Arctic Canada – Can community programs make the difference?, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Psychologists in Finland sign climate petition, citing concerns for youth mental health, Yle News

United States: Alaska capital budget vetoes to hit homelessness, addiction treatment, Alaska Public Media

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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