A support helpline run by Indigenous women for Indigenous women will be expanded from northern Ontario to the entire province to help those in distress.
Talk4Healing has served more than 20,000 Indigenous women since 2012, when it started as a pilot program after a provincial study identified gaps in support, particularly in small and remote communities up north.
With the announcement expected in Toronto this Friday, the program will also broaden to include 14 Indigenous languages, up from four, and will see a doubling of its annual government funding to $1 million from $500,000.
The 24-hour, multilingual service — by phone, live chat and text — provides supportive counselling, handles crisis calls, offers suicide intervention and makes referrals to programs offering help with housing, security, addiction and mental health problems.
“The helpline is critical for many Indigenous women in the small communities. It’s their only lifeline,” said Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard of the Ontario Native Women’s Association, a partner of the initiative”, as well as Vice Chair of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services Board of Directors. “It’s really a positive step forward, an upstream investment … to help them hold their families together so they can thrive and not just survive.”