Unifor and Bell Let's Talk joined forces to donate $200,000 to Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre (Ma Mawi) and the Canadian Mental Health Association, Manitoba and Winnipeg (CMHA) to support the launch of the Strengthening Wellness Education to Love Life (SWELL) program.
Through the SWELL program, Ma Mawi and CMHA will deliver culturally relevant mental health programs to equip Indigenous youth and their families with tools for mental health promotion.
"Unifor shares the Ma Mawi philosophy of working together to help one another," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "The stigma of mental illness too often leads to isolation and solitary struggle, which makes the need for community and culturally based support so crucial for Indigenous people."
Funding for the donation was made possible from the Unifor Social Justice Fund that contributes to projects both within Canada internationally. To present Unifor’s donation Joie Warnock, Western Regional Director was on hand to speak at the event.
As part of the program, volunteers and staff from youth-serving organizations in the community will be trained in mental health first aid for First Nations communities. SWELL will also engage youth through an annual Indigenous Youth Summit to increase their voice in mental health services.
"The mental health needs of the Indigenous community are unique, complex and rooted in multi-generational trauma," said Diane Redsky, Executive Director of Ma Mawi. "SWELL directly addresses this critical need by providing training to staff helpers on the front lines supporting youth and saving lives.”