Honouring Our Strengths

is a national framework that addresses substance use issues among First Nations people in Canada

Honouring Our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nations People in Canada document was released at the AFN National Health Forum in 2011 by

  • The Assembly of First Nations (AFN),
  • National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation (NNAPF), and
  • Health Canada.


This foundational framework moves from focusing on deficits to focusing on strengths. It outlines a range of care in order to support stronger responses to substance use issues locally and across the country. It draws from Indigenous Knowledge based on the belief that the Creator gave us everything we need to live a good life.

This framework is meant to guide the creation of services at all levels of the system to support strengthened community, regional and national responses to substance use and addictions issues. It also gives guidance on how to grow communities that make mental health and well-being a priority, and relies upon community and cultural strengths.


The framework’s vision is one that supports a strengths-based, systems approach to dealing with substance use issues among First Nations people in Canada. This vision emphasizes that a stronger system of care is the shared duty of all levels of government as well as a wide range of care providers including
  • family and community members,
  • community service providers,
  • primary care and other medical staff, and
  • off-reserve service providers.

Within this vision, the focus is on ensuring everyone has access to a range of useful, culturally relevant care options at any point in their healing journey.

When people are willing to stay committed, work together and form strong partnerships, the vision can be fulfilled. But it will also rely on good leadership throughout the system, along with useful tools and guides to help everyone move towards the new vision.


The NNADAP Renewal Leadership Team was formed in 2010 to lead and help implement Honouring Our Strengths. It’s important to note that solutions for renewal have to come from First Nations people who must guide its implementation within communities and among their people. Many First Nations people, service providers, Elders, youth, and cultural practitioners have demonstrated change can happen through their efforts to promote wellness within communities. Change often begins with a small group of people who own the change and pass it on into community.