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New opioid crisis supports for Indigenous people

A provincial grant to Native Friendship Centres is supporting the hiring of four navigators to connect people with life-saving treatment, harm reduction and culturally sensitive wraparound services.

New opioid crisis supports for Indigenous people

Minister Hoffman meets with members of the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association to discuss new supports to address the opioid crisis.

Navigators have been hired in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie with the support of the $400,000 grant. Workshops, naloxone training sessions and educational material will also be provided to staff at Friendship Centres in 21 communities throughout the province. These new tools will support greater substance-use awareness and prevention and strengthen access to culturally appropriate services for Indigenous people.   

“The opioid crisis is having a heartbreaking impact on families and communities across the province. We need to do everything we can to help people receive greater access to health services for substance use without facing cultural barriers or stigma. Our government is proud to support Alberta Native Friendship Centres as they play a vital role in making sure Indigenous people in urban areas can easily access life-saving resources.”

Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health

Elders, health-care providers and people with lived experience are working with Friendship Centres to provide guidance on a traditional and culturally appropriate approach to supporting individuals affected by substance use.

“Community-based Friendship Centres are a vital point of contact for information, cultural programming and services and referrals for an increasing number of urban Indigenous people across Alberta. The resources provided through this grant are supporting local communities to develop culturally relevant approaches to begin addressing this tragic epidemic.”

Joanne Mason, executive director, Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association

First Nations and Métis people have higher rates of opioid overdose deaths, emergency department visits and opioid prescriptions compared with non-Indigenous people. Supporting Indigenous communities with new tools to respond to the opioid crisis is a recommendation of the Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission.  

In Budget 2018, the government committed $63 million to continue its work on the opioid crisis, including:

  • Opening new opioid dependency treatment spaces across the province, helping an additional 4,000 Albertans every year.
  • Distributing more than 83,000 free naloxone kits, with more than 4,500 reported overdose reversals.
  • Supporting supervised consumption services in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge and community-based initiatives to bring these life-saving services to Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie and through a mobile unit in Calgary.

Media inquiries

Government of Alberta