The Community is the Medicine Program

Communities face significant challenges as they strive to respond to the ongoing trauma of colonial intervention. The impacts have been a high level of suicide and crisis, violence and conflict, and addiction).

Community Wellness Teams

Communities often know that things need to change, but they feel helpless in the face of that need. A Community Wellness Team is a group of community members who assist the community to take charge of its wellness–that is, to increase its connection, empowerment, the availability and recognition of meaningful roles for its members, and culturally-rooted vision. They can:

  • arrange and/or facilitate community/family gatherings where community wellness targets and activities can be identified;
  • lobby for and/or facilitate community-driven initiatives;
  • identify and/or facilitate the provision of community-desired programs.

Community Response Teams

Community front-line staff and natural care givers are often required to respond to community crises without the necessary training, confidence and support. A promising model of crisis response being embraced by some First Nations is an integration of professional and non-professional services in a Community Response Team. Community Response Teams are made up of human service workers, first responders, community leaders, and natural care givers. They can:

  • respond to individuals in crisis (i.e., struggling with emotional distress);
  • respond to critical incidents (i.e., tragedies) within the community;
  • support a neighboring Community Response Team (if requested) and invite the assistance of a neighboring Team (if required).

Community Wellness and Response Teams develop the community’s capacity to identify and respond to their own critical incidents in an integrated fashion. This model is true community-based mobilization—empowering each community to respond to its own issues.

The Training

The 15 day training program (over 3 separate weeks) includes the following workshops:

  • The Community Is The Medicine: Community Wellness/Resilience Workshop
  • Opening the Circle: Developing and Maintaining a Community Response Team
  • Through the Pain: Responding to a Suicidal Person
  • Reaching Out: Responding to A Person in Crisis
  • Beyond Fear: Responding to Grief & Trauma Impacts
  • In Case of Emergency: Critical Incident Response Protocol Development