VICTORIA, B.C. – The provincial government announced Tuesday that Indigenous families with children aged three to twelve will have access to free “culturally-grounded” wellness practices through a virtual parent and caregiver coaching program.

With provincial support, the We Are Indigenous: Big Worries/Fears Parent/Caregiver Support Program was developed with the guidance of the Indigenous advisory group Caring in All Directions and Indigenous writers in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association – BC Division (CMHA BC).

Developed by and for Indigenous people, the program acknowledges the strong spiritedness of Indigenous families, the importance of supporting First Nations in their wellness wisdoms, and the disruptive influences of colonization on Indigenous families.

“Some of the main impacts on parenting for my people are residential schools and the Sixties Scoop,” said Jacki McPherson, representative of Caring in All Directions and vice-chair of the board for CMHA BC.

“I think if more children and more parents understand that their parents and their grandparents were not given the opportunity to learn how to be parents in a productive way, they would be more understanding not only of their childhood but also how to move forward and how to change things for their children and grandchildren.”

Program delivery includes short online videos and scheduled telephone coaching sessions to give families the tools to discuss what they’re already doing, learn new practices, and use those practices with their children.

The program builds off the Confident Parents: Thriving Kids anxiety program offered by CHMA BC. It aims to allow parents, caregivers, and children the opportunity to learn about Indigenous-centered wellness practices and strategies to build their skills and strong spiritedness to push back against big worries and fears, known as anxiety in western views, according to the province.

“Children, youth and their families need access to supports and services that are culturally safe and trauma-informed,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development.

“Parents do the best they can with the tools they have. This program will help Indigenous families recognize the root of some of their challenges in parenting and provide more tools to families, and that’s going to make a big difference,” McPherson said.

The province says that improving wellness for children, youth, and young adults is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for building the comprehensive mental-health and addictions care that British Columbians deserve.

To learn more about We Are Indigenous: Big Worries/Fears Parent/Caregiver Support Program, click here.

Read more about A Pathway to Hope below.

Spencer Hall is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program. Growing up in Northwest B.C. made Spencer aware of the importance of local journalism, independent media, and reconciliation. In his spare time, you can find Spencer reading, playing video games, or at the FSJ dog park with his dog, Teddy.