Program aims to fill gaps in mental health training for land-based programs

The Yundaa Gogha Canoe Program, which was a 2019 NWT On The Land Collaborative Grant recipient, run by the Dehcho First Nations. Photo supplied by NWT Parks and Recreation.
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A new training program being developed in collaboration with local Indigenous groups aims to better train land-based programming to deal with mental health issues.

The NWT Parks and Recreation Association first met with a number of stake holders, including the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Dehcho First Nations, Hotıì Ts’eeda, Dene Nahjo, Fireweed Counselling and the Tłı̨chǫ Government in 2018.

The program will teach people running land-based programs how to manage and provide support for mental health issues.

The program will hopefully address current gaps in programming related to helping people deal with mental health situations, says Rachel Cluderay, the On the Land Programs Consultant for the NWT Parks and Recreation Association.

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“Currently there are lots of trauma-informed trainings and after [an initial supporting wellbeing meeting in 2018 to discuss gaps in on the land programming], we tried to use some of the different trauma-informed training,” said Cluderay. “But they weren’t applicable to the on-the-land setting.”

“Often they say, ‘If the situation gets really bad, just call the police,’ or it’ll say exit the situation,” she added. “‘Well I’m on a gravel bar with this person, I can’t do any of these things.’”

The first module was recently finished, with five more to come. The program is designed to be adaptable, so if people have a limited amount of time to hold training sessions, they can choose the modules most relevant to them, said Cluderay. Each module takes half a day to complete.

The pilot training program is set to take place in March next year.

“Ideally everyone who is on the program will go back to their communities and train people in this program,” said Cluderay. “That’s one of the ways we’re trying to build capacity.”

Correction notice: A previous version of this article said the training was for land-based educators. The program is intended for people who run land-based programming. A quote has also been fixed, from its original “trauma trainings” to “trauma-informed trainings…”. We regret and apologize for the error.

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