The mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of Calgary and area’s Indigenous population has been shaped by historical determinants (such as the legacy of the residential school system), and several present-day policies and practices. These policies suppressed Indigenous culture, identity, and spirituality, resulting in significant loss of language, culture, spirituality, parenting skills, and traditional roles in Indigenous societies. As a result of this trauma, many Indigenous people in Calgary and the surrounding area struggle to lead healthy, rewarding lives.
The Natoo’si Indigenous Healing and Well-being Initiative emerged in mid-2015 as United Way’s innovative approach to working with urban Indigenous communities in Calgary on the issue of healing from intergenerational trauma.
In 2017, United Way invested $1.6 million in 7 programs and initiatives to support Indigenous healing and well-being.
These programs and initiatives include:
BRAIDING THE SWEETGRASS
Braiding the Sweetgrass, a family-based healing program offered by Hull Services, which focuses on preventing the transmission of intergenerational trauma through traditional Indigenous ceremonies and educational programs. In 2017, 53 parents/caregivers, youth, and children participated in the program.
Miskanawah, a program of Pathways Community Services Association which offers a healing model built on the power of ceremony and the wisdom of Elders. In 2017, 30 families (100 individuals) accessed the Miskanawah family counselling sessions with Elders.
The CONNECT EVENT
The annual Connect Event, which convenes Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, including organizations and schools that serve Indigenous youth, offers a learning journey towards well-being and reconciliation through shared dialogue and activities. To date, more than 500 individuals have attended the event.
INDIGENOUS YOUTH HUB
The Indigenous Youth Hub, an initiative developed by United Way in partnership with the Indigenous community, Elders, and Indigenous-serving partners in Calgary to create a central gathering place for Indigenous youth in Calgary. In the fall of 2017, United Way conducted several engagement opportunities to gather valuable input from Elders, youth, and community stakeholders on the development of the Hub.
United Way is currently working on a new, organizational Indigenous Strategy which reflects the spirit and intent of the Truth and Reconciliation's report Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future and builds on the existing work of the Natoo'si Indigenous Healing and Well-being Initiative. The strategy is led by Elders, in consultation with the Indigenous community.