A PARADIGM SHIFT: Suicide Prevention to Life Promotion
The inaugural Feather Carriers: Leadership for Life Promotion initiative encompasses a community mobilization strategy and collaborative life promotion training approach. The initiative was founded in the North Simcoe and Muskoka regions in 2015, by Dr. Ed Connors, John Rice and Dr. Debby Wilson Danard. The vision for this initiative came out of a relationship to the land, and requests from FNMI communities in this region, who were looking for additional supports and resources related to suicide prevention. As a result the year-long Feather Carriers: Leadership for Life Promotion training was developed by our Founders, with support from local Indigenous communities, and Indigenous organizations, such as the Bamaadisiwin Mental Health and Addictions Planning Circle, Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle and Enaahtig Outreach Mental Health Team.
Collectively, the training is an approach that speaks to the heart and minds of people working with First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) individuals and families who are at risk of premature death, as well as supporting loss survivors. Gathered from all directions, Feather Carriers brings the knowledge and experience of the whole community into practice. It builds on the values and belief that in this present time, life is worth living. As such, the training aspect of the initiative supports the development of community leaders through Indigenous knowledge and cultural understandings of life promotion, so they can continue to promote life and prevent premature death (i.e. suicide) in our communities.