Residential Schools

Artist: Clayton Gauthier

Mental Health and Wellness Support for Indigenous People
Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Program

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The information and material here may trigger unpleasant feelings or thoughts of past abuse. Please contact the 24 Hour Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 if you require emotional support.

The FNHA is working with communities and provincial and federal partners in light of the retraumatizing effects of recent residential school discoveries to identify needs and offer supports and services to address those needs.

Community Supports Guide

The findings about residential schools have re-traumatizing effects on the health and well-being of Indigenous people. The FNHA works with communities to identify needs and offer supports and services to
address those needs. The Community Supports Guide​ includes information on:
  • the FNHA cultural wellness and healing grant
  • mental health and cultural supports, including 24-hour crisis lines and counselling, traditional and cultural supports
  • provincial and federal funding

Mental Health and Welln​​ess Supports for Indigenous People

The FNHA and other organizations provide culturally safe and trauma-informed cultural, emotional, and mental health services to Indigenous people in BC. 

Supports include 24-hour crisis lines and services covered by FNHA Health Benefits.

Safe Gatherings

Assemblies, rallies, and protests are one way in which people can express their shared views and beliefs. Participating in these gatherings may, however, lead to increased risk of COVID-19 transmission if proper precautions are not taken. See this guidance from the BC Public Health Office about outdoor assemblies, rallies and protests during COVID-19 and stay informed about the latest Provincial Health Orders. Gathering outside during a heat wave can also be risky – read FNHA'S health advice during BC's heat advisory.

Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Program

The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program provides mental health and emotional supports to eligible former Indian Residential School students and their families. The support is offered before, during and after their participation in Settlement Agreement processes and includes:

  • common experience payments
  • the independent assessment process
  • truth and reconciliation commission events and commemoration activities

The Importan​ce of t​​he Program

Indian Residential Schools did tremendous harm to First Nations in Canada. Helping people heal from the damage is critically important for individuals, families, communities and Nations. The consequences of the abuse suffered in these schools continues to have an intergenerational effect – essentially, the harm caused to students affects First Nations families and communities over generations.

The schools, created by the federal government, were operated by churches for more than 100 years. They caused serious harm to children, communities and Nations through forced assimilation and abuse (physical, mental and sexual). Children were forcibly removed from communities by the RCMP. At school children were punished for speaking their language, even when it was the only language they knew. Mortality rates were between 40 and 60% in the schools' early years.

Making the Pro​​gram Yours

The aim of the Residential Schools Program is to ensure that eligible former students of residential schools, and their families, have access to appropriate and safe mental health, emotional and cultural support.

Services are offered, using a wholistic approach, by a Cultural Support Worker or a Residential School Health Support Worker.

To request any of these services, please call toll free 1-877-477-0775.

Cultural Sup​​port

Cultural supports are provided by local First Nations organizations, which coordinate the services of Elders and traditional healers. The supports assist students and their families to safely address issues related to residential schools and with disclosure of abuse during the Settlement Agreement process. Services are based on individual needs and include dialogue, ceremonies, prayers and traditional healing.

Emotional Support

Services are provided by local First Nations organizations to help students and families address issues related to the schools and with disclosure of abuse during the Settlement Agreement process. An Aboriginal mental health worker will listen, talk and guide former students and family members through all phases of the Settlement Agreement process.

Professional Counselling

Professional counsellors are psychologists and social workers who are registered with the FNHA and have experience working with Aboriginal people. A professional counsellor will listen, talk and assist former students to find ways of healing from residential school experiences.


Assistance with transportation costs is provided to access professional counselling services. If you need travel assistance to access counselling, please contact the IRS Program (email:​; phone: 1-877-477-0775).​


Assembly of First Nations – Indian Residen​tial Schools​

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada​

Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (archived) provides information to claimants about their options for their IAP or ADR records and remains open until September 19, 2027

Indian Residential Schools Settlement Official Court Website​

National Indian Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419This line has been set up to provide support, including emotional and crisis referrel, for former Residential School students

Reconciliation Canada: History and Background

UBC Indian Residential School Initiative / ourtruth (archive)​


24-Hour Residential School Crisis Line
Phone: 1-866-925-4419

FNHA Indian Residential Schools Information Line
Phone: 1-877-477-0775

Indian Residential Needs Team

FNHA Mental Health and Wellness Team