A group of Indigenous drummers play and chant together while others dance. Photo credit: Elijah Beaver

The Issue

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.

Our Response

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:


An Indigenous regalia beaded necklace

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.


Elder Reg Crowshoe speaks at United Way's Natoo'si Connect event on Indigenous healing and well-being

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 planning team smiles for a photo at the 2017 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 perform and play traditional songs. Photo credit: Elijah Beaver

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.

Builing a positive future for Indigenous Youth

United Way has partnered with Pathways Community Services to develop an Indigenous Youth Hub. Opening in fall 2018, the Beltline-located Hub will offer a welcome and inclusive gathering place for Indigenous Youth to connect with peers and build positive, informal relationships with Elders in a safe setting.

Pathways, who has been working in Calgary and area since 1988, is leading the development of the Hub under the guidance of Elders and in collaboration with local partners to ensure an array of wholistic supports are offered.


Indigenous youth face unique, complex social challenges that stem from suppressed culture, identity, and spirituality. These complex challenges have had devastating outcomes as evidenced by Indigenous youth suicide rates being 5 to 6 times higher than non-Indigenous youth.


Led by a youth coordinator, Indigenous Youth Steering Council, and youth participants, Indigenous youth are helping with the design of the space so they can claim it as their own and base it on the needs and interests of participants. The Hub may be used for activities such as:

  • Connecting to Elders
  • Healing and well-being supports
  • Indigenous cultural awareness teachings
  • Mental health and addictions resources
  • Relationship building opportunities
  • Youth leadership courses
  • Skill building and employment preparation
  • Language classes
  • Indigenous art classes, drumming circles, and beading sessions
  • Recreation opportunities
  • Connection to programs and services offered by partner organizations such as Alberta Health Services, Canadian Mental Health Association, and the Calgary Public Library


The Indigenous Youth Hub will engage urban Indigenous youth on a path of healing and well-being to promote truth and reconciliation. A place where hope and sense of belonging are instilled.

Stay tuned to this page for updates as the Hub develops. 

An RCMP officer stands on a burned street, houses and cars still smouldering beside him. Photo credit: Alberta RCMP 

Funding available through United Way from the Red Cross

Applications are now open for grants from a new Emergency Community Fund being offered through United Way. Thanks to financial support from the Canadian Red Cross, the $1.2M fund will be administered through United Way of Calgary and Area and United Way of the Alberta Capital Region.

Grants will be allocated to Edmonton and Calgary-based community agencies that have supported or continue to support people impacted by the 2016 Alberta wildfires.

Applications will be accepted for services provided between May 2016 and December 2017. Grants will be available through four funding streams:

  • Financial stabilization (e.g. basic needs, emergency funds, employment, career planning, retraining)
  • Mental health supports
  • Community building
  • Emergency preparedness

All Calgary area and Edmonton area programs are eligible, not just those currently funded by United Way.

Red Cross RFP Application Request

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Contact information for questions and information

Email us at .
You can also leave us a voicemail: 403-441-2268
Voicemail and email are checked daily (Monday to Friday) during regular business hours.
We encourage applicants with questions about the process to contact us to ensure we can provide timely answers.


Calgary's skyline on a sunny day; Photo credit: 2015 Urban Exposure Participant Caillie Mutterback

Please note: The Strong Communities RFP is now closed. Thank you for your participation!

All applications received by service providers between June 1 and July 29, 2016 were reviewed by a panel consisting of United Way staff and community volunteers with sector expertise. All applicants were advised of the RFP results in November 2016.

Strong Communities RFP Results

United Way is pleased to announce that 60 programs administered by 41 agencies will see more than $10.6M in annual funding over the next five years as a result of the Strong Communities RFP. The funding process takes effect in 2017.

All investments allocated within the Strong Communities RFP focus on early intervention and prevention in one of the following priority areas: mental health issues, domestic violence, social exclusion, thriving neighbourhoods, and healing from intergenerational trauma (Natoo’si).

Strong Communities RFP Funding Allocated by Priority Area (%)

35% to mental health issues; 25% to social exclusion; 23% to domestic violence; 9% to thriving neighbourhoods; 8% to Natoo'si

Next Steps

Investment strategies for All That Kids Can Be and Poverty to Possibility will be launched in 2018. This timeline is driven by the need for alignment with United Way's 2018-2022 Strategic Plan and learning from the Strong Communities RFP.

The funding strategy, process, and timelines will be informed by conversations with agencies to build a partnership framework that reflects common outcomes and will serve as a guide to our funding strategies.

More information will be shared as this work evolves.

Five year funding commitments under the Strong Communities RFP

Service Provider Program(s)
Accessible Housing Residential Accessible Design
Alberta Seventh Step Social Inclusion
Alzheimer Society of Calgary Learning and Support Services
Between Friends Club recreation for people with disabilities Capacity Building
Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary YEAR
Calgary Catholic Immigration Society Refugee Claimants Transitioning into the Community
Community Support Program for Survivors of Torture
Calgary Chinese Community Services Association Integration and Civic Engagement
Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens Association Seniors Social Participation Program
Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse Counselling Program
Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse Crisis Intervention Services and Sexual Assault Response
Calgary Counselling Centre Family Violence Prevention Program
Improving Mental Health for Vulnerable Calgarians
Calgary Domestic Violence Collective Collective
Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association Family Conflict Program
New Friends and Neighborhoods Groups
My Community My Home
Calgary John Howard Society Community Re-Entry Support Program
Calgary Legal Guidance Sahwoo Mohkaak Tsi Ma Tass: Before Being Judged
Calgary Seniors Resource Centre Senior connect
Calgary Sexual Health Centre Society WiseGuyz
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter Healthy Relationships Re-design
Men’s Counselling Prevention
Prosperous Family Healthy Relationships
Canadian Mental Health Association - Calgary Region Building communities of mentally resilient individuals and caregivers
Carya Building Community Resilience in Bowness
Elder Abuse Support Program
The Way in Network
Community Mental Health Supports for Well-being
Urgent Family Caregiver Program
Catholic Family Service of Calgary, The Never Too Late
Violence Prevention- Louise Dean
Mental Health and Well-being Program
Cerebral Palsy Calgary Ability Network
Social Inclusion
Closer to Home Community Service Society Ee-des-spoom-ooh-soop
CUPS Calgary Urban Project Society Mobile Community Development Team
Deaf & Hear Alberta Mental Health Supports for Deaf and Those Living with Hearing Loss
Distress Centre Distress Centre Crisis Counselling Program
Elizabeth Fry Society Prison Community Outreach
Ethno Cultural Council of Calgary We all Belong
SHARE Healthy Relationships Program
Homefront Domestic Conflict Response Team
Immigrant Services Sustainable Neighbourhood Access Program
Linkages Society of Alberta Intergenerational Community Initiatives
North Rocky View Community Links Society Supporting Vulnerable Seniors
Ogden House Seniors Filling the Gap
Pathways Community Services Association Miskanawah
Renfrew Educational Services Society Family Support Program
Sagesse Informal Supports
LGBTQ Domestic Violence Capacity Building
Peer Support Groups
Schizophrenia Society of Alberta (Calgary Branch) Family Support Program
Peer Support Outreach Program (combined with peer support/unsung heroes)
The Alex Community Health Centre The Seniors Space
Women in Need Society Family Resource Centres
Women’s Centre Building an Inclusive Women’s Community
Wood's Homes Eastside Family Centre and Community Resource Team
Whole Family Treatment Program - Phase II
YWCA of Calgary Impacting Domestic Violence


Resource Documents

RFP Guide

Pedestrians and cyclists cross a bridge over Calgary's Bow River. Photo: Jesse Tamayo

Read the guide

Social Inclusion

An elderly woman smiles while at her local community center. Photo: Heather Rowe.

View spec sheet

Mental Health

A young man looks up at a mural of a smiling sun. Photo: Alexandra McCredie

View spec sheet


A woman wears a traditional Indigenous beaded necklace. Photo: Lorelyn Jerusalem.

View spec sheet

Domestic Violence


A couple stands together holding hands.

View spec sheet



Rows of elevated community garden plots. Photo credit: Ramsey Yuen

View spec sheet

Frequently Asked Questions

Three cut out speech bubbles hang on threads in front of a blue background

Read FAQs

Theory of Change


A bright plus 5 in downtown Calgary

Read Theory of Change


Basic Needs Assistance: Assist people facing emergencies such as eviction or disconnected utilitiesBasic Needs Assistance provides individuals facing financial crisis with a one-time grant to remedy an immediate need. In 2014 the program helped prevent over 1,000 Calgarians from being evicted or having their utilities disconnected. Basic Needs Assistance allows individuals experiencing financial stress due to sudden job loss or unexpected illness remain self-sufficient and prevents further worsening of their circumstances.

Leading Partners:

United Way of Calgary and Area

Community of Practice:

For more information on Basic Needs Assistance, visit:

CUPS (Calgary Urban Project Society),  Distress Centre Calgary, Canadian Red Cross Society - Southern Alberta RegionBowWest Community Resource Centre, Sunrise Community Link Resource Centre.






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