(Sudbury/Wiikwemkoong, January 8, 2020) We are thrilled to announce that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has awarded a substantial grant to a program aimed at improving Indigenous Mental Wellness. ‘I aM Well,’ a joint initiative of both Naandwechige-Gamig Wikwemikong Health Centre and Laurentian University’s ECHO Research Centre, will receive $1.5 million dollars over the next five years.
The program was developed with substantial input for its ultimate beneficiaries: Indigenous children and youth. It involves the use of a tablet-based survey, known as the Aboriginal Children’s Health and Well-being Measure (ACHWM), which helps children talk about their health. These data are then shared with service and healthcare providers who coordinate and improve health outcomes.
The ACHWM was co-created with and for Indigenous children in Canada, beginning in Wiikwemkoong Unceeded Territory in 2010; now, with this grant, they will share this holistic approach with the world. The CIHR funding will allow for the I aM Well to not just expand, but also to become adaptable to other Indigneous cultures. The aim is to aid communities around the world, particularly those in rural and remote areas with fewer resources.
A team of 19 researchers from eight universities, as well as 15 partner organizations, share in this success. This work is a tribute to the wisdom of Indigenous children and the leadership of two individuals: Research Chair Dr. Nancy L. Young, alongside Naandwechige-Gamig Health Services Director Mary Jo Wabano, were instrumental in its development and success. Chi-miigwetch to everyone involved in this partnership; we wish them continued success in their goal of strengthening Indigenous children and their communities.
"This is an exciting opportunity to share the knowledge gathered over the past decade of collaboration. It is indeed an honour to lead this national team with Mary Jo Wabano. We will continue to follow the guidance from communities and promote children's wellness."
Dr. Nancy L. Young, Director of the School of Rural and Northern Health and Research Chair
“I want to congratulate Dr. Young and her colleagues at the ECHO Research Centre for a decade of hard work that has led to this award. I’m excited that this partnership with the Naandwechige-gamig Wikwemikong Health Centre will promote wellness among Indigenous children and youth. Laurentian University is strongly committed to working with Indigenous communities. It’s great to see partnerships like these aligning with our Imagine 2023 Strategy, which is dedicated to Truth and Reconciliation.”
Robert Haché, President and Vice-Chancellor of Laurentian University
“I aM Well is an exciting program that respects our commitment to the health and well-being of our children as envisioned through the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Children’s Bill of Rights. Our number one priority is our children and this program will give us the opportunity to identify their health strengths and opportunities. It will also empower our children by giving them a voice in their own wellness assessment. I am very pleased to have this program in our community.”
Ogimaa (Chief) Duke Peltier, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory
“It has always been my passion to listen to the voice of our children and provide each member with the opportunity to express their needs along with reducing barriers to receiving mental wellness supports.”
Mary Jo Wabano, Health Services Director, Naandwechige-Gamig Wikwemikong Health Centre