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New funding for BC Indigenous-led wellness supports for residential school survivors

WARNING: This story contains content that readers may find disturbing.

Three Indigenous service providers are receiving $1.5 million to address what is called the urgent need for mental health and wellness support, as a result of the ongoing findings at former Indian Residential Schools. 

In a joint announcement today, the provincial government says the organizations offer culturally safe and trauma-informed support for residential school survivors and all Indigenous peoples.

The funding is part of $12 million announced in June 2021 for the BC Residential School Response Fund.

“We know that the findings at former residential schools are deeply painful and that more survivors and their families are reaching out to Indigenous service providers for support,” says Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “As we approach Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, it is important that we work with Indigenous partners to make sure mental health and cultural supports are available when they are needed.”

Funding announced today will go to the following: 

* enhancing the 24/7 cultural support line managed by the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, including additional counselling and cultural support staff;

* adding capacity for Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society to provide more in-person health and wellness and cultural supports, including services for communities carrying out work on the sites of former Indian Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals; and

* expanding the Métis Counselling Connection Program delivered by Métis Nation BC with a specific focus on the experience of Métis survivors.

This province says the additional support comes at an important time when people may need more support due to the emotionally triggering nature of recent events. 

Shortly after the discovery of human remains near the former residential site in Kamloops, the Residential School Crisis Line was receiving up to 600 calls per day, during daytime hours. In the evening, workers were speaking to up to 45 people each, per night.

“The Indian Residential School Survivors Society would like to express our profound gratitude to the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation for its commitment to reconciliation by taking action towards the mental health and wellness journey of all former students of Residential Schools including intergenerational,” says Angela White, executive director, Indian Residential School Survivors Society. “We are working tirelessly to support former students of Residential Schools and their families through programs and services for the youth, 2SLGBTQ+, Elders and families. This funding will have a direct impact and be used for services that includes grief and loss counselling, crisis counselling, family and group counselling and programs, traditional healing methods, crisis support and mental health and wellness.”

Support services for Indian residential school survivors in B.C.:

* First Nations Health Authority:

* Indian Residential School Survivors Society, phone: 1 800 721-0066 or 604 985-4464

* Tsow-Tun Le Lum for Indigenous peoples in B.C., phone: 1 888 403-3123

* The Métis Crisis Line for Métis people in B.C., available 24 hours a day at 1 833 638-4722

* The KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides a 24-hour, provincewide Indigenous crisis line for Indigenous peoples in B.C.

* Adults, call 250 723-4050

* Children and youth, call 250 723-2040. Toll-free: 1 800 588-8717

* First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line for Indigenous people across Canada: Phone toll-free 1 855 242-3310 or chat online:

* 24-Hour National Crisis Line for residential school survivors and others affected: 1 866 925-4419

Quick Facts:

* First Nations or Tribal Councils identified as the caretaker community or co-ordinating body on behalf of caretaker communities can access up to $475,000 from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation for eligible activities.

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