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Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

Native Wellness Assessment

The Native Wellness AssessmentTM (NWATM) instrument was launched on June 25, 2015 and is the first of its kind in the world. It is a product of the Honouring Our Strengths: Indigenous Culture as Intervention in Addictions Treatment (CasI) research project whose team included Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers from across Canada, Elders, Indigenous knowledge keepers, cultural practitioners, service providers, and decision makers. The NWATM is now available for use.

Click here to access the NWA

Western treatment practices generally take a narrow view of the addiction instead of the person’s overall wellness. An Indigenous approach to wellness is holistic in nature; health from an Indigenous perspective is broadly envisioned as wellness and is understood to exist where there is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual harmony as outlined in the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework. It is recognized at accredited National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) and Youth Solvent Addiction Program (YSAP) treatment centres that Indigenous traditional culture is vital for client healing.

“Much of what we do in health research focuses on examining deficits and weaknesses. But now, for the first time, Indigenous treatment programs and centres across Canada will be able to measure wellness of the whole person based on their strengths.”

– Carol Hopkins, Executive Director of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation


The NWATM is an an Indigenous knowledge based instrument that demonstrates the effectiveness of First Nations culture as a health intervention in addressing substance use and mental health issues. The NWATM is comprised of two assessment forms: the Self-Report Form (completed by client) and the Observer-Rating Form (completed by treatment provider). The assessment is administered either two or three times during the treatment cycle for each client and it has been tested to be valid for women and men, across age groups, and across cultures. The NWATM provides culturally-based information to guide treatment services which can include: spending time on the land, learning from traditional teachers and healers, as well as participating in storytelling and dancing. Positive outcomes from a pilot test of the assessment tool included the revelation that clients who knew their own language reported higher overall levels of wellness.

The NWATM measures the impact of cultural interventions on client wellness and proves something that First Nations have long known; culture is the key to restoring and maintaining wellness. Over time, the use of the NWATM will establish an evidence base for the important role of Indigenous culture in addressing substance use issues and in promoting wellness. This tool is useful for programs that promote mental wellness through Indigenous culture and focus on clients’ strengths. We invite you to see if the NWATM is right for your program.

The survey must be completed on on-line, via the NWA Access Portal above, in order to receive the client report which provides analysis and interpretation of results.

The two The Native Wellness AssessmentTM forms are available to view online or download below.


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