Project Spotlight: National Association of Friendship Centres

Trauma-informed Mental Health Support Program

Increasing capacity to provide, expand, and evaluate access to existing trauma-informed mental health programs and cultural support services for urban Indigenous communities


125 Friendships Centres across Canada offering services and supports to urban Indigenous peoples including First Nation, Métis, and Inuit



  • Connect Indigenous people to culture, community, and resources they need to stay healthy
  • Remove systemic barriers to culturally relevant services, including mental health services
  • Improve access to culturally responsive health care, affordable transportation and accommodations, and patient navigation


Through the Trauma-informed Mental Health Support Program, NAFC is providing support to Friendship Centres across Canada. Programs, activities, and services are unique to each Friendship Centre and may include:

  • Cultural programming (e.g., medicine wheel teachings, traditional medicines, ribbon skirt/shirt, traditional foods, access to ceremony)
  • Community-based health and support services (e.g., food security, family programming, community gatherings, and provide wrap-around services to ensure clients feel safe and supported)
  • Community and outreach partnerships (e.g., provide workshops and support groups, and collaborate with partners to connect community members to available support services)
  • Mental health supports (e.g., bridging traditional and western teachings, self-care, mental health/suicide training)
  • Staff capacity and expertise (e.g., Hire mental health support staff, promote resource sharing and training, and provide regular training opportunities for Health and Cultural Support Worker).



  • Community

Implementation sites

  • National


  • COVID-19 exacerbated challenges faced by urban Indigenous people


Key protective factors

  • Cultural connectedness and identity
  • Supportive relationships in the community
  • Involvement in community and group activities
  • Access to health and support services

Key approaches

  • Culturally relevant/grounded
  • Trauma-informed