Brampton, ON, September 30, 2021 – In recognition of Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Sept. 30, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Peel Dufferin is reaffirming its support of Indigenous communities and its commitment to reconciliation.
“For too long, First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples have lived the impacts of systemic racism and colonialism which affects their mental health and well-being,” said David Smith, CEO, CMHA Peel Dufferin. “The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation provides an opportunity for us all to pause, reflect, and learn from Canada’s troubled history.”
Canada’s Indigenous peoples have long known that many children died at government and church-run residential schools they were forced to attend. As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) has stated, residential schools, a product of Canada’s colonial policies, endangered the health and well-being of the children who attended them; the physical, psychological and spiritual violence, neglect and harm from the forced separation of families has caused pain that has been passed from generation to generation. Intergenerational trauma is felt within communities in the disproportionately high rates of suicide, which impact Indigenous peoples at a rate three times higher than non-Indigenous Canadians.
Residential schooling denied many Indigenous children and their families the experiences of positive parenting, worthy community leaders, and a positive sense of identity and self-worth, which have structured and contributed to the systemic discrimination faced by Indigenous communities today.
Furthermore, communities continue to contend with the grief and trauma of the loss of thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, pain which is compounded by government failures to take meaningful action to address this systemic violence and bring closure, justice and accountability for mourning families. Indigenous children continue to be overrepresented in Canada’s child welfare system despite the known mental health impacts of separating children from their families. And lack of access to clean water, health and mental health care, employment, education and safe housing are part of the daily psychological stresses and human rights violations experienced by many Indigenous communities in Canada.
At the national level, CMHA acknowledges that as the largest and one of the oldest providers of community mental health services in Canada, it must take responsibility and the steps needed to address the harmful ways our mental health system has upheld racist and colonial practices. CMHA has pledged to help dismantle the racist and colonial practices that are embedded in the mental health system, and in our own history, in the following ways:
- CMHA will engage decision-makers to fully implement the Calls to Action of the TRC, and particularly those calls for Indigenous mental health, healing and well-being.
- It will endeavour to decolonize its existing work and set new standards to support the Calls the Action of the TRC across the CMHA federation.
- CMHA will establish an internal community of practice to support the integration of truth and reconciliation into operations, programming and services across the federation.
- It will support the delivery of Indigenous-led mental health services and strengthen its partnerships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations and leaders to create and deliver Indigenous-led mental health programs and services rooted in the principles of cultural safety and self-determination.
- CMHA will increase access to Indigenous cultural awareness training for staff members.
About CMHA Peel Dufferin
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Peel Dufferin Branch offers services to youth and adults experiencing an addictions or mental health crisis, seniors with dementia, those navigating the court systems, people who are homeless or facing imminent homelessness and family and caregivers. www.cmhapeeldufferin.ca
CMHA Peel Dufferin champions good mental health for everyone and supports the full participation of those with mental illness and addictions in the life of the community.
For more information or to reach a spokesperson, please contact:Siobhan Kukolic Communications Officer (416) 521-5387