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Episode 21: Creating Equity in First Nations Addictions Treatment Programs
January 11, 2023

Episode 21: Creating Equity in First Nations Addictions Treatment Programs

First Nations communities experience inequitable access to health care, as well as a disproportionate burden of harm related to substance use. It is now widely recognized that this reality reflects the impact of policies implemented to assimilate Indigenous peoples, as well as the effects of grief and chronic trauma on First Nations communities. These policies have had devastating intergenerational impacts and unfavorably shaped First Nations health outcomes.

In this episode of From the Burgundy Chairs, Santis Health Associate Caroline Pitfield is joined by Dr. Carol Hopkins, Chief Executive Officer of Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and Rolanda Manitowabi, Executive Director of Ngwaagan Gamig Recovery Centre. Together, they discuss the challenges First Nations communities face in accessing appropriate addictions treatments, what must be done at various levels of government to improve the situation, and the importance of culturally relevant care.

Dr. Carol Hopkins is the Chief Executive Officer of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation (a division of the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation) and is of the Lenape Nation. Carol was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Canada, 2018.  In 2019, she received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Western University.

Carol has spent more than 25 years in the field of First Nations substance use and mental health.  She holds both a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Toronto and is 4th degree Midewiwin, a sacred Anishinaabe medicine society where she is a Chief and Teacher. Throughout her career, Carol has made use of Indigenous knowledge in research, policy, practice-based evidence, teaching, education, and in facilitating processes of decolonization specific to epistemic racism. She has co-chaired national initiatives known for best practice in national policy review and development, resulting in the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework (FNMWC), the Honouring Our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nations in Canada, the Indigenous Wellness Framework, and the Native Wellness Assessment. Her leadership has been engaged within Health and Mental Health for First Nations, Provincial, Territorial, and Federal governments serving several expert advisory and task groups.

Rolanda Manitowabi is a mother and grandmother. Bii daa bi no Kwe is of the wolf clan and is from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory in Ontario, Canada.  Since 2004, Rolanda has served as the Executive Director of Ngwaagan Gamig Recovery Centre Inc., an addictions services and treatment organization in Wikwemikong. Rolanda graduated from the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology Program (MAPP) in 2017 at the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a B.A. Hons degree (1998) from Algoma University. Rolanda’s work at the treatment centre and in the community has included advocacy, networking, partnerships, committee work, and leading the implementation of various projects. She is dedicated to work for the community that involves healing, personal growth, and community wellness.

Learn more about Thunderbird Partnership Foundation here.

Learn more about Ngwaagan Gamig Recovery Centre here.