Government of Canada helps support healthy living behaviours for Indigenous communities in British Columbia

Press Release

From: Public Health Agency of Canada

News release

Taking a holistic and cultural approach to help increase physical activity and improve overall health

August 3, 2022

Research suggests that 44% of adults in Canada live with at least one chronic disease, such as heart disease, hypertension, cancer, or diabetes. Many chronic diseases are more prevalent among Indigenous peoples, which often reflects broader inequities they face. Healthy living initiatives that centre and celebrate the unique strengths, cultural traditions and resilience of Indigenous peoples can help reduce the risk of chronic disease and support their overall health and wellbeing.

Today, Patrick Weiler, Member of Parliament for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, British Columbia, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced an investment of $834,060 to the Gathering Voices Society. This funding will help improve access to health programs for Indigenous peoples in British Columbia as it will enable the Gathering Voices Society to create innovative and integrated approaches to promoting healthy living and addressing the common risk factors for chronic disease.

The funding will also help implement an Indigenous fire management and stewardship project within the Yunesit’in and Xeni Gwet’in First Nations communities, west of Williams Lake, British Columbia. The project will help participants gain a closer connection to the land through the transfer of cultural knowledge and traditional practices, and in doing so, support physical activity and improve mental health and wellbeing within these communities.


“The Government of Canada continues to take important steps to improve health outcomes for everyone in Canada. Through this project, Indigenous peoples in British Columbia will have further access to tools and resources that benefit their overall health and well-being, using traditional knowledge and practices to help reduce their risk of developing chronic disease.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“Today’s funding integrates cultural knowledge and practices with physical activity and healthy living programming and increases access to traditional foods. These all have the potential to prevent chronic disease while positively impacting Indigenous peoples in British Columbia who too often experience health inequalities.”

Patrick Weiler
Member of Parliament for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, British Columbia

“We have a unique opportunity here to understand how Indigenous fire stewardship supports people’s health and wellbeing over a three-year period.”

William Nikolakis
Executive Director, Gathering Voices Society

“Considering how our communities are attempting to address the impacts of colonization, especially from the alienation from land and imposition of sedentary lifestyles on reserves, Indigenous fire stewardship provides culturally appropriate employment and allows us to take on our ancestral responsibilities to the land.”

Russell Myers-Ross
Yunesit’in First Nation

Quick facts

  • Gathering Voices Society (GVS) will lead the project called Caring for the Land, Caring for Each Other: Health and Well-being from Indigenous Fire Management Programs. GVS is an Indigenous-led charity supporting Indigenous fire and land stewardship programs that benefit the environment and communities.
  • Indigenous fire stewardship (IFS) is the use of fire by various Indigenous peoples to modify fire regimes to adapt and respond to climate and local environmental conditions. IFS is the intergenerational teachings of fire-related knowledge, beliefs, and practices about fire effects, and the role of cultural burning in fire-prone ecosystems and habitats.
  • Funding announced today is being distributed through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Multi Sectoral Partnerships (MSP) program, which has invested $20 million a year since 2013 in innovative projects across the country. It supports projects that aim to lower people living in Canada’s risk of chronic disease by tackling common modifiable risk factors, namely unhealthy eating, smoking, and physical inactivity. The MSP is now known as the Healthy Canadians and Communities Fund.

Associated links


Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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