Honouring Our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nation People in Canada

OTTAWA, Nov. 8, 2011 /CNW/ - The National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation (NNAPF) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), in partnership with Health Canada, today announced the release of a national framework addressing substance use issues among First Nation people in Canada during the AFN National Health Forum in Ottawa, ON.

Honouring Our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nations People in Canada outlines a continuum of care in support of strengthened community, regional and national responses to substance use challenges. The framework was developed through extensive consultation and collaborative work with partners, including Health Canada.

"The vision of this framework is one for today and into the future, to address substance abuse among First Nation People in Canada," said Muskoday First Nation Chief Austin Bear, President of the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation.  "The framework is intended to guide the design, coordination, and delivery of services at all levels, providing guidance on approaches to community development that prioritizes mental health and well-being and relies upon community and cultural strengths."

"I am pleased that our organizations have worked closely together to produce a framework that will assist First Nations communities to strengthen mental health and addictions services throughout Canada," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. "These are important issues that will benefit from the collaborative effort represented by this framework."

Honouring Our Strengths is the result of a four-year comprehensive, community-driven review of the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) and substance use-related services and supports for First Nations. It describes the range of services, supports and partners needed to provide a continuum of care to individuals, families, and communities. It identifies six elements of care to better ensure access to a range of effective and culturally relevant care options for those responding to substance use issues or in any stage of the healing journey.

"The 'Honouring Our Strengths' framework is just one example of an innovative and collaborative approach to addressing challenges based on community needs and cultural strengths at the community level," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.  "While First Nations across Canada continue to advocate to address inequities in health care and health service delivery to First Nations, we must continue to drive change at the community level and increase the rate and pace of change to close the health gap between our people and other Canadians."

The approach for Honouring Our Strengths focussed on shared ownership of the document's design, collaboration with partners from the beginning of the process, and bringing forward the voices of community at every stage of the framework's development. In creating Honouring Our Strengths, partners engaged over two thousand community members, treatment centre workers, community-based addiction workers, health administrators, First Nations leadership, Elders, provincial service providers, researchers, and policy makers.

Honouring Our Strengths will be a resource for NNADAP treatment centre workers, First Nations communities, addictions experts, health directors, and policy makers in the areas of First Nations substance abuse and addictions. Both the full version of the framework and a 14-page summary report are available at www.nnadaprenewal.ca.

Implementation of Honouring Our Strengths is already underway at community, regional, and national levels with the NNADAP Renewal Leadership Team guiding the process. Four main priority areas for implementation are: enhanced coordination/integration at all levels; strengthening the system of care; improving programming; and stronger measurement, oversight, and research.

The Leadership Team, with support from AFN, NNAPF, and Health Canada, is encouraged by the collaborative approach to a strengthened systems-based approach to care, and moving forward with renewal.

NNAPF is the national voice advocating for Inuit and First Nations culturally-based addictions services. NNAPF works to cultivate and empower relationships that connect cultural strengths and identity within holistic and healthy communities and to further the capacity of First Nations and Inuit to address addictions and related issues.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.

The AFN National Health Forum taking place at the Ottawa Convention Centre November 7-9, 2011 is the first of its kind in over 10 years, gathering nearly 1000 First Nation health directors, health technicians and health experts from across Canada. Under the theme "Taking Action to Move Forward", the three-day forum will showcase examples of First Nations driving change and engaging partnerships, while exploring opportunities to advance community-based plans for sustainable health service delivery.

For more information on renewal efforts, please visit: www.nnadaprenewal.ca  or contact the national renewal partners directly by e-mail at: info@nnadaprenewal.ca.


For further information:

Liz Barron 
Communication Manager
National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation
Office: 204.242.3237
Mobile: 204.894.NAPF (6273)

Jenna Young
Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789. ext 401

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