Feather Carriers: Leadership for Life Promotion has a focus on the community in all aspects of the initiative.
The community mobilization focuses on promoting life at the community level through training frontline workers, individuals with lived experience as peer mentors, managers, directors and support staff. Through this process our focus is on supporting life promotion work naturally occurring within each community, and continuing to develop the network of relationships and supports each community can access related to prevention, intervention, postvention. This way the initiative remains organic, flexible, and specific to the resource needs and individual and collective strengths of each community.
From the visioning process to today's ongoing commitment, the initiative has always carried the importance of community at heart.
The visioning stage of the program among the founders began with First Nations communities identifying the need to experience a different approach to suicide prevention. With the high levels of premature deaths in FNMI communities, mainstream suicide prevention programs were not providing enough culturally relevant training and follow up supports.
As a need for a FNMI suicide prevention approach continued to grow, the founders began promoting the importance of shifting the terminology within FNMI communities from Suicide Prevention to Life Promotion. Building on the language and vision embedded in this paradigm shift, the conversations taking place a many of the local mental health committees and working groups focused on supporting FNMI communities began to adopt this concept of life promotion. Through these conversations, the support for the development of a new training and education approach continued to grow.
The training began with the involvement of local organizations that provide services FNMI people. The inaugural Feather Carriers: Leadership for Life Promotion cohort had participants from a variety of fields, ranging from Indigenous frontline workers in mental health and addictions, First Nations band administrators, traditional knowledge keepers, and senior managers.
Our focus now includes increasing our capacity and continuing to grow and develop as an initiative. With this, we have begun providing mentorship to some of our previous Feather Carrier graduates, who are now in the process of becoming training facilitators.