Submitted by: 2SpiritYouth.ca/Ashley


Atelihai / Tanshi / Oki / Tatawaw / Wingapo Cheskchamay / NU CHEXW MEN WA HA7LH?  Hello Beautiful Peoples,

Before we begin, how are you? You wanna maybe talk to someone or just check out what national crisis and wellness support resources exist out there? I gotchu fam; Check it:

NATIONAL RESOURCES


SEARCHING FOR CRISIS AND WELLNESS RESOURCES

 

Ashley Grenstone here. I am on of two (2) National 2spirit Youth Co-coordinators and a former youth (*coughs loudly* “32 yrs old this past August” *coughing becomes real*). I’ve done a LOT of searches for Crisis and Wellness Resources online in my life. Usually it’s when I am/have been in a bad place or even just wanting to take a proactive approach to my mental health that I tend to get lost and feel overwhelmed at all the options available to me.

Is that relatable? I mean I know a lot of people including myself struggle with finding support while coping with our mental, physical and/or spiritual limits nevermind having to deal with the additional barriers that exist for finding support, yeah?  Sometimes the resource I hoped to access was limited to a different region; a service provider’s hours of operation didn’t align with a friend’s present panic attack; or, the specific kind of knowledge base a wellness practitioner needed to support me just wasn’t there. For these reasons we’re sharing the story of my experiences navigating searches for online support/crisis resources and share the results here.

I began by typing in a few phrases (ex: “Canada National Crisis Resources“) and key words (ex: ‘helpline’, ‘mental health’ ‘trans’) not really knowing what to expect.

One of my first search results was a pleasant surprise: ‘CRISIS SERVICES CANADA‘ Is an organization that exists now and is the result of merging the ‘Canadian Distress Line Network (CDLN)‘ into a collaboration of service providers across Canada. Their approach centres on accessibility, inclusiveness and the knowledge we are stronger together.

I really enjoyed that they specifically created a page for Provincial, Territorial, and Regional resources since I know both personally and professionally how difficult it is to find an up-to-date list of resources categorized by geography.

There’s also a ‘Resources for Marginalized Communities and Allies‘ page which looks like the start of something meaningful but lacks the visual presentation pages like ‘Fast Facts’ and ‘Stories of Hope’ have received.

Overall, I’d give Crisis Resources Canada an ‘8/10’ for ease of use, accessibility to support/crisis resources, and for their depth of mental health knowledge. I won’t sugarcoat an area of weakness though – when it comes to representation I have to go with a stark ‘1/10’ in reflection of how many times I encountered 2Spirit/Indigenous specific language on their website.

TAKEAWAY: Don’t let a lack of 2Spirit/Indigenous representation keep you from accessing a good mental health organization such as Crisis Services Canada in this case, or any other service, resource, information you feel will be of benefit to your mental health and wellness.

Speaking to the youth audience: the problem with a lack of 2Spirit/Indigenous representation is itself a perfect opportunity to be a part of the change you wish to see this world develop. My suggestion? Assemble a youth group to draft a statement on why 2Spirit/Indigenous representation and consultation is important when we promote suicide pevention services and resources. Offer the statement – in this case to Crisis Services Canada – as an opportunity for an ongoing conversation and consultation. Maybe ask to be paid for your time….Actually definitely ask to be paid for your time. Volunteerism is great for providing free time/energy to support community betterment (like the social responsibility of drafting a statement) but any time you’re asked to consult with persons in a position of power/authority it is important as individuals and as a youth collective to establish yourselves as equals and honour your time and commitement.

Next I used key terms to search for 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations in colonially defined ‘Canada’ and found the folowing:

There’s the LGBT YouthLine (Text: 1-800-268-9688) which has a peer support telephone/text/online chat support and this pretty cool video series called ‘Were Here…For You‘; and, the Trans LifeLine (Phone: 1-877-330-6366. English and Spanish 10am-4am EST) that has a TON of resource links, hooolay.

Personally, I find that both host an impressive quantity AND quality in their services and resources. That’s why it’s a shame to again find so little content geared towards 2Spirit youth. For their overall sites, I award them each a joint ‘9/10’ for creativity and diversity, but have to throw in a ‘4/10’ for minmimal 2Spirit youth specific content.

Lastly, I narrowed my focus to searches with ‘Indigenous-specific’ wordage:

The first one I clicked on was the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and if you must know, the way to my heart is either through food or visuals. There are sooooo many great visual graphics resources on their website like the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework. I give them am ‘8/10’ for resources and visuals, but a ‘0/10’ for lack of any mention of 2Spirit peoples.

Next I accidentally clicking a pdf link to the ‘National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy‘ – a 2016 report by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami strategizing suicide prevention in northern Inuit communities. Although I never planned to cover reports I looked through it quickly and recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about planning larg-scale changes like this one. Interesting stuff; no mention of 2 Spirit peoples so ‘0/10′ on that front but a ’10/10’ for planning. I wonder what the results are now that it’s been 5 years since the release of the report?

Lastly, I found this neat little post about ‘Creating safer Spaces for Two-spirit Métis People‘ from ‘Métis Nation of Ontario‘ featuring a workshop hosted in January 2021 by none other than my previous boss Benny Michaud (she/they/him), “a proud ayahwkew (two-spirit), eagle clan, Michif person… originally from the Metis community of St. Boniface in Manitoba… and current Director of the Centre for Indigenous Initiatives” at Carleton University. As for the website itself it has a dedicated Mental Health and Additctions Cirsis Line for youth and adult support but little else in the way of 2Spirit-Specific content. So that’s going to be a ‘5/10’ for me because although the website had less representation of 2Spirit peoples overall compared to other websites  reviewed here it did share details of an event/workshop specific to 2Spirit peoples. Also I’m totally biased.

Overall, there is a lot of information out there! There’s no question that my own experiences with searching for Crisis and Wellness Resources has really only scratched the surface of what is out there for 2Spirit youth. That might sound discouraging but consider that finding the right one(s) that work for you can take a lot of time and energy. Services, resources, story posts like this one – sometimes we don’t always have it in us to sift through it all. That’s … actually totally okay!

Honestly, it’s not a race, there are no grades, and mental wellness is a life-long journey of discovery, improvement and respect of the ‘self’.

That’s why when you’re ready to start your search, know you don’t have to have all the answers; you certainly don’t have to be ‘perfect’ before reaching out for support; and, if you or someone you know is in crisis, then ‘now’ is always a good time to connect with a crisis-line or to let others know what’s going on.

Chii Migweetch

Wishing you wellness and warmth,

– AG

Indigenous Languages Highlighted

  • Inuktitut (Translation: Atelilai / welcome);
  • Michif (Translation: Tanshi / welcome);
  • Blackfoot (Translations: Oki / Hello);
  • Plains Cree (Translation: Tatawaw / Welcome);
  • Coastal Salish (Translations:  NU CHEXW MEN WA HA7LH? / ‘Greetings’ or ‘Well Wishes’ );
  • Powhatan/Algonquian (Translations: ‘Wingapo’ / hello; ‘Cheskchamay’ / ‘my brothers’ or ‘ my friends’)

Ashley Grenstone is one (1) of two on the Youth Coordinators team at the 2 Spirits in Motion Society (2SIMS) and a Human Systems Intervention master’s student at Concordia University.

Updated: Nov.10th, 2021

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