A new virtual parent and caregiver coaching program aims to provide free, culturally grounded wellness practices to Indigenous families.
Photo by Hannah Scott
New culturally informed mental-wellness supports will help Indigenous families
Published 10:22 PDT, Tue August 2, 2022
Indigenous families with children aged three to 12 who are experiencing big worries and fears will have access to free, culturally grounded wellness practices through a virtual parent and caregiver coaching program.
With the support of the province, the We Are Indigenous: Big Worries/Fears Parent/Caregiver Support Program was developed with the guidance of the Indigenous advisory group Caring in All Directions and Indigenous writers in collaboration with Canadian Mental Health Association - BC Division (CMHA BC).
"We want Indigenous families to have access to the mental-health support they need, so little problems don't become big ones," said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "The Big Worries/Fears program is guided by traditional knowledge from Indigenous communities and will help parents support their children by working together as a family."
The program builds on the Confident Parents: Thriving Kids anxiety program offered by CHMA BC where trained coaches build on skills and strategies that can be used with children and family at home and in community settings. The We Are Indigenous program is grounded in Indigenous perspectives to support First Nations, Métis, and Inuit families throughout B.C.
"Children, youth and their families need access to supports and services that are culturally safe and trauma informed," said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. "I am pleased this program, which was designed by Indigenous people for Indigenous people, will bring supports to children with big worries and their families across the province by integrating wellness and cultural practices."
Parents, caregivers, and their children can learn about Indigenous-centred wellness practices and strategies to increase their skills and strong spiritedness to push back against big worries and fears, known as anxiety in western views. The program delivery includes short online videos and scheduled telephone coaching sessions to provide families with tools to discuss what they are already doing, and to learn new practices and how to use these practices with their children.
"Some of the main impacts on parenting for my people are residential schools and the Sixties Scoop," said Jacki McPherson, representative of Caring in All Directions and vice-chair of the board for CMHA BC. "I think if more children and more parents understand that their parents and their grandparents were not given the opportunity to learn how to be parents in a productive way, they would be more understanding not only of their childhood, but also how to move forward and how to change things for their children and grandchildren. Parents do the best they can with the tools they have. This program will help Indigenous families recognize the root of some of their challenges in parenting and provide more tools to families, and that's going to make a big difference."
Developed by and for Indigenous people, the program acknowledges the strong spiritedness of Indigenous families, the importance of supporting First Nations in their wellness wisdoms, as well as the disruptive influences of colonization on Indigenous families.
"We Are Indigenous: Big Worries/Fears Parent/Caregiver Support Program builds on the success of supports that have been proven to help families, as well as strengths and wisdoms of Indigenous Peoples," said Jonny Morris, chief executive officer of CMHA BC. "It's an honour to collaborate with and learn from our Indigenous partners to help further develop and support the strong spiritedness of Indigenous families in B.C. together."
Improving wellness for children, youth, and young adults is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, B.C.'s roadmap for building the comprehensive system of mental-health and addictions care that British Columbians deserve.
For more information on We Are Indigenous: Big Worries/Fears Parent/Caregiver Support Program, visit BigWorriesStrongSpirit.ca