Programs and Services

Mino bimaadiziwin — living the good life – hasn’t always been easy on the nine First Nations we serve. We’re changing that with culturally-appropriate, holistic programs and services that really work. Here are a list of some of the initiatives the foundation has been involved with. We are truly changing lives for our First Nations.

Anishinaabe Diabetes Education Program

Led by a nurse and a dietician, education sessions show participants how to reduce the risk of diabetes with information on healthy lifestyle choices and nutrition and blood glucose screenings. People with diabetes can get advice on preventing and managing complications, as well as referrals to clinical and support services.

Long-Term Care Program

KCA works with local community staff, providing support, training and resources that enable seniors and people with complex medical conditions to maintain their health and independence with customized homemaker and home support services.

Tobacco Reduction Program

A staged, three-year research project — Community Assessment; Education and Policy Development – is underway to reduce commercial tobacco consumption in all nine communities.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder Child Nutrition Support Program

To help prevent FASD births and improve the quality of life of FASD-affected children and their families, this program provides prevention outreach (family planning, risks of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy); workshops on traditional birthing practices, community gardening (access to healthy food), breast-feeding and parenting; and referrals to pre-natal care, cultural support, and Case Management.

Niigaanning Bimaadiziwin Development Services

In partnership with Firefly Family Services, KCA provides a full range of early intervention services for children and youth with disabilities to 13 First Nation communities. These services blend traditional knowledge with Western rehabilitation methods and include developmental screenings, infant development, speech/occupational/ physiotherapy, communication and social skills support, assistance with transitions to daycare or school, service coordination, and system navigation.

Gambling Addiction Awareness Program

To promote responsible gambling and address problem gambling, KCA offers prevention education workshops at schools and in communities, treatment and rehabilitation services, and general support. Youth ambassadors are trained to help with resource development.

Aakozi’ma’gut Kima’Maa’anun Project

The Learning from Mother Earth Project works to reduce the impact of climate change on Anishinaabe communities. Due to aging infrastructure, geographic location, and close ties to the land, Indigenous communities in Canada’s north are the first – and hardest – hit.  It is vital that traditional knowledge and the perspectives of women, children and youth be at the heart of planning and development. By ensuring these voices are heard, this project empowers community members to recognize their strengths, build internal partnerships, and better understand and respond to the effects of climate change on themselves, their families, and their community.

Family Wellbeing Program

Family Wellbeing Workers in six communities run activities designed to reduce domestic violence and the number of children and youth involved with the child welfare and youth justice systems by bringing families together. Cultural support plays a big role at Family Day Pow Wows, craft workshops, community meals, and family healing circles.  Other activities include sports tournaments, ice fishing derbies, board game nights, dances, health fairs, home visits to Elders, addictions workshops and one-to-one counselling.

Promoting Life Skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) Program

KCA partners with Right to Play to deliver its PLAY program in eight communities, led by six Community Mentors. This evidence-based program uses games, sport clinics, leadership workshops and volunteer opportunities to foster teamwork, build confidence, improve peer relationships, improve physical and mental health, enhance educational outcomes, and increase future employability.

Biizindadedah Program

In February 2018, KCA delivered the first school-based Listening to One Another program in Canada at Asubpeechoseewagong First Nation. Developed by a collaborative of First Nations and university research teams from four provinces, the 14-week program for youth and their families uses cultural teachings to strengthen participants’ sense of belonging and connection to the land. The sessions provide training in problem-solving, communication, emotional regulation, dealing with bullying and discrimination, and seeking help. As well as its own staff, KCA partnered with McGill University and Abinooji Anishinaabe Family Services to train another 30 Treaty 3 Prevention Workers to deliver the program.

Wiisokodaadig Peer Helper Program

To address the high and persistent rates of youth suicide in our communities, KCA provides leadership, communication and personal skills training to teens so that they can help their peers with friendship, support, conflict resolution and problem-solving. The curriculum is built around traditional teachings and ceremonies, and covers confidentiality and trust, self-esteem, self-care, healthy relationships and sexuality, goal-setting, boundaries, positive influences, peer pressure, making decisions, trauma, stress, bullying, empathy and coping strategies.

Ontario Works Life Skills Program

Community workshops on key topics teach people the life skills they need to go to work:

  • Getting to Know You
  • Positive Thinking
  • Decision-Making
  • Managing Emotions and Self-Esteem
  • Communication
  • Respecting Self and Others
  • Conflict Management
  • Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
  • Financial Management
  • Balancing the Force

ODSP Employment Support Services Pilot

For the first time ever, First Nation people with disabilities are receiving employment counselling, job search/ application and resume-writing training, service referrals, and job coaching services through this pilot.

“Participating in the KCA Employment Support Program provided me with supports while I was employed with the Naotkamegwanning Circle of Hope Program… it was great! I learned to socialize with people young and old. It gave me the will to speak out a little more, it helped me be more confident. I got to learn more techniques that will help me in future employment. Having the opportunity to work within the health setting was a great learning experience for me because I do plan on training to become a Doctor after I graduate.”

Adult Mental Health & Addictions Services

Counselling, referrals to addictions treatment, and treatment aftercare are provided to clients aged 12+.

Pre-arrest diversion – including illness stabilization, life skills and restorative justice – is available to clients aged 16+.

Clients aged 18+ and their families receive counselling and referrals to external services.

Crisis intervention services are available at the individual, family and community levels. Workers support community members for a brief time to get them through the initial crisis and strengthen their ability to cope mentally emotionally and spiritually. Working with KCA’s Cultural Coordinator, Case Managers also help community members find healing through Anishinaabe ceremonies and other traditional ways, delivered by Elders, Knowledge Keepers and Healers from member First Nations.

Child & Youth Mental Health & Addictions Services

As well as providing short/long-term direct counselling and referrals to psychiatric/psychological services, Child and Youth Case Managers also facilitate access to traditional healing by Elders and work with families to increase understanding of mental health issues and develop healthy coping skills.

Youth transitioning out of the child welfare system are helped to identify needs, set goals, and access mental health services and housing, education and employment supports.

Mental Health Promoters give workshops at all communities on a range of topics, including addictions/mental health awareness, dealing with stress and grief, elder abuse, suicide prevention, conflict resolution, anger management, healthy relationships, self-esteem, and dealing with emotions.

Family Violence Program

Through workshops and presentations, community members increase their awareness of all forms of violence – school (peer pressure, bullying), family, workplace and lateral (between peers/equals) – and learn about its effects on their families and themselves.

Youth Mobile Crisis & Outreach Program

Through a unique partnership with the OPP and Treaty 3 police, KCA Youth Mental Health Workers ride with officers responding to day–time calls involving youth in crisis in the Kenora area. It means that kids aren’t alone while they wait for immediate support at the hospital, nor sent home without being connected to ongoing supports after the intervention.

Because of a history of poor experiences with police, many at-risk Indigenous youth won’t seek help, but these teams actively search them out, often diffusing problems before they become crises; at the same time, better relationships are being built between youth and police, as well as with the local hospital.

KCA Family Rookie League

In 2015, several Treaty 3 Chiefs joined forces with KCA to develop a mental health strategy that would support the most marginalized and hard-to-reach children and youth in their communities.

A key element was bringing people together through baseball, which led to the creation of the KCA Family Rookie League, in partnership with the Jays Care Foundation and Right to Play.

The goals were to engage a large number of community members of all ages in weekly sport and play, and by reviving a love of baseball, to reduce the number of mental health concerns reported by children and youth.

By May 2017, eight First Nations were participating with players as young as four and as old as 100, with remarkable results (see box). The rules of play were adjusted so that community involvement – coming to practices and games, providing meals, and cheering on every player regardless of talent – earned as many points as actually winning a game.

Chiefs and Elders were invited to lead opening ceremonies before each game and a drumming group led the Opening Ceremonies at the Beyond the Ballpark end-of-season tournament.

Reactions from real participants in the program:

“This was an opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself, part of a team, to endure things together.”

“It has given me lots of courage and energy, something to look forward to.”

“It brings the best out of us. It brings me joy and happiness.”

“It gives me the freedom I need. I don’t have any insecurities, I just feel free. That helps me heal.”

Rookie League Stats:

  • 200 ACTIVE CHILDREN AND YOUTH attended Rookie League programming each week.
  • 20 COMMUNITY AND FRONT-LINE STAFF participated in intensive training facilitated by Jays Care, Right to Play and baseball clinicians.
  • 500 SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY MEMBERS participated in events held by communities during season.

All Nations Health System

In 2017, KCA spearheaded the All Nations Health System initiative with multiple partners. Modelled on the Meno-Ya-Win Health Centre in Sioux Lookout, the initiative will harmonize funding, services and governance to provide barrier-free health care. A modern hospital campus will be culturally sensitive to Indigenous people and use both traditional healing and mainstream treatment to improve health outcomes. To date, $2.5M has been received from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term care to conduct a community consultation and a feasibility study; a two-year planning phase was approved by the Ministry in early 2019, supported by a $375,000 contribution from Health Canada.

  • Grand Council Treaty #3
  • City of Kenora
  • Municipalities of Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls
  • North West Local Health Integration Network
  • Kenora Métis Council
  • Lake of the Woods District Hospital
  • All Nations Health Partners

Youth Residential Stabilization Centre

For over a decade, KCA has been working to meet the needs of youth in acute mental health crisis. Currently, young people are stabilized at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora or the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Unit in Thunder Bay, 489km away. KCA’s proposed model will provide a safe, local, home-like setting where kids aged 10-18 and their families can work on recovery together through wrap-around, bi-cultural programming. In early 2019, KCA received funding from Health Canada for two beds – located at Anishinaabe Abinooji Family services in Kenora — and is now seeking funds for another eight beds and construction of the building that will house them.

  • Treaty 3 Police
  • Ontario Provincial Police
  • Waasegiizhig Nanaandawe’iyewigamig
  • Health Access Centre
  • Thunder Bay Health Sciences Centre
  • Ontario Telemedicine Network
  • Lake of the Woods District Hospital
  • Firefly Child and Family Services
  • Grand Council Treaty #3
  • Keewatin-Patricia School District

Kenora Youth Wellness Hub

When the Province announced funding for 10 service hubs to address gaps in youth service in 2017, KCA stepped forward as the lead agency in a successful bid to locate one in Kenora. Each hub is a youth-friendly space that provides the right services – mental health, substance use, primary care, housing, training, employment, system navigation — to youth aged 12-25 and their families at the right time, in one place. In early 2019, premises were found for the Kenora Hub, and KCA has hired four staff to deliver programs.

Tri-Community Drug Action Plan

Illegal drug use and drug trafficking have been declared a public health crisis at Naotkamegwanning, Animakee Wa Zhing #37 and Northwest Angle #33 First Nations. In mid-2018, KCA began working with Chiefs and Council to create the Tri-Community Drug Action Table, a group of community members and experts dedicated to creating healthy, safe communities. Targeted, evidence-based activities include:

  • preventing substance abuse through community education, especially crystal meth awareness training;
  • supporting innovative approaches to treatment and rehabilitation;
  • introducing harm-reduction programs to reduce the negative consequences of substance abuse;
  • addressing illegal drug production, supply and distribution through partnerships with law enforcement and promoting community accountability with an after-hours/weekend Volunteer Patrol Program;
  • developing policies for drug testing and removal from community; and
  • service coordination between KCA, First Nations and community agencies.

Bail Residency Program

KCA Mental Wellness Workers provide frontline mental health support to the 24 residents of the Nechee Friendship Centre’s Bail Supervision and Aftercare program in Kenora, as well as any KCA community members living in Kenora. The service is an extension of KCA’s Adult Mental Health and Addictions Program.


  • Bimose Tribal Council
  • Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Cancer Care Ontario
  • Centre for Addictions and Mental Health
  • Community Health Care Professionals
  • Kenora Association for Community Living
  • Kenora District School Board
  • Kenora-Rainy River Child and Family Services
  • Kitapinoonjiiminaanik Family Services
  • Lakehead University
  • Mamow Ahyamowen
  • McGill University
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Ontario Provincial Police
  • Ontario Renal Network
  • Right to Play
  • Shawendaasowin Child and Family Services
  • Shooniyaa Wa-Bitong
  • Nechee Friendship Centre
  • Kenora District Services Board