First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada are increasingly re-engaging with their traditional cultures, redefining themselves and reasserting their distinct identities. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) is working to understand the needs of these communities.
Some communities are self-governing and exercise control over their health programs, ensuring that their members generally enjoy good health and well-being. However, many communities face major challenges, such as high unemployment, poor housing, low levels of education and inadequate healthcare services. These factors all contribute to the increased likelihood of substance abuse.
Addressing the needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis is a CCSA priority
As a result of a history of colonization, isolation, poverty and language barriers, abuse of substances — especially
solvents — is more common in northern and remote communities. These communities are also more vulnerable to suicide, violence and poor performance in schools.
First Nations communities participating in a national survey between 2008 and 2010 reported that alcohol and drug abuse were the number one challenge for community well-ness faced by on-reserve communities (82.6% of respondents), followed by housing (70.7%) and employment (65.9%) (Health Canada, 2011).
Tackling these complex issues requires different governments and organizations to work together to implement cross-sector solutions that draw upon the strengths and input from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
Meeting the challenges of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people
National Framework for Action identifies “Reaching out to Canada’s North” as one of its main priorities. This priority has been formally endorsed by the Government of the Northwest Territories.
Together with our partners, including the
National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation (NNAPF) and Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB), CCSA is helping to develop meaningful, holistic and culturally appropriate solutions in the areas of access, prevention, health promotion, treatment and aftercare. Examples include:
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