Our Core Functions

Thunderbird advocates for First Nations culturally based substance use and mental wellness services. Our vision is “to cultivate and empower relationships that connect us to our cultural strengths and identity within wholistic and healthy communities.”

Our work is done through five core functions: Policy & Partnerships, Operations & Finance, Research & Development, Training & Education, and Communications.

& Finance

(includes organizational operations, human resource management, evaluation and improvement, inventory, information management systems, finance)

Mandate: To focus on internal capacity to enable Thunderbird teams to respond to current needs of mental wellness issues that affect First Nations, and support service providers as they adapt to fit the changing realities of First Nations. Draw upon Indigenous Knowledge and conventional evidence to inform operational and finance programs. Develop and maintain policies for the organization relating to health and safety, human resources, information management, quality improvement, finance, risk management, etc. Ensure organizational and finance resources meet regional and national needs in mental wellness.

Policy & Partnerships

(includes governance, policy review and analysis, partnerships)

Mandate: To organize a national network of addictions programs and services whereby the knowledge and experience of its members can be accessed by all clients, workers, managers, policymakers, and partners; to ensure community prevention and treatment centre staff are not working in isolation from their colleagues; to develop a partnership between the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation, the Regional Addictions Partnership Committees and Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB); to ensure changes to policies and laws truly reflect the needs of NNADAP/NYSAP addictions and mental health services, and support issues around changing community needs.


(includes creative design and services, web/app development, learning management systems, Knowledge translation tools)

Mandate: To develop and implement a national program of clear and consistent communications, using state-of-art methods and technologies that provides timely information on the addictions field to clients, workers, managers, policymakers and partners within the First Nations and Inuit addictions network; and, to ensure communications support to Regional Addictions Partnership Committees. Design and support the development of resources (guidebooks, toolkits, fact sheets, apps, training curriculum) to support First Nations in their community planning.

& Education

(includes curriculum development and instructional design, delivery, learning management systems, support, Knowledge translation tools)

Mandate: To establish a networked training system to help develop human resources to ensure effective and efficient addictions services for Indigenous people regardless of where they live; and, to establish a national certification program for community prevention and treatment centre employees, through the Train-the-Trainer facilitator training courses. Offer training (self-directed and virtual) grounded in Indigenous Knowledge to National Native Alcohol & Drug Addiction Program (NNADAP) and National Youth Solvent Abuse Program (NYSAP) treatment centre workers and First Nations community wellness workers, to support special skills and knowledge needed to work effectively with First Nations communities.


(includes studies, epidemiology and surveillance, development, evaluation, publications, Knowledge mobilization)

Mandate: To support the effective operation and development of community prevention and treatment centre operations through pure and applied research with a focus on identifying individual, family and community needs and improving programs and services. The research team collects and analyzes data and establishes strong working relationships with community and regional stakeholders; conducts literature reviews, surveys, and other research functions. Specific research is necessary for demonstrating the impact of cultural interventions. Research projects recognize cultural Knowledge and the values of a community with respect to the principles of community controlled and community-owned research (Ownership, Control, Access and Possession) (OCAP). Research data helps identify service gaps, needs, and priorities and can help make recommendations on the best way to allocate resources.