New Campaign Highlights Importance of Culture in First Nation Harm Reduction Practices

Bothwell, ON | 09/03/23 – Thunderbird Partnership Foundation has launched its harm reduction campaign which is titled Sacred Breath of Life. The campaignconveys the importance of First Nations harm reduction approaches that connect to culture and sacred teachings of Creation – and that is that we all have the responsibility to protect the sacred breath of life, for all. The Great Spirit gave to us, the breath of life, and for that reason, it is sacred.

“Thunderbird defines harm reduction as a way to keep individuals, families, and communities safe from the harms of substance use. Our culturally safe approach uses Indigenous ways of knowing and doing to take care of each other. And this is the message our campaign brings,” said Carol Hopkins, Chief Executive Officer at Thunderbird.

The overall goal of the campaign is to increase awareness of harm reduction practices in First Nations communities. The campaign includes a digital and social media advertising campaign, print materials and community-based toolkits. Upon completion of this initial six-week test campaign, Thunderbird will assess feedback and response to plan for a fuller national campaign.

“Unresolved historical and complex trauma is a strong contributor to the harms of substance use among First Nations. And our work with First Nation treatment programs across Canada continues to show the vital role of Indigenous culture in treatment plans aimed at reducing the impact of substance use and promoting wellness,” said Hopkins. “This is why it’s so important to root First Nation harm reduction practices in culture.”

For more information about the Sacred Breath of Life campaign, visit:

Media contact:           Caroline Parnell-Barry, Communications Team



Indigenous Knowledge grounds our approach to harm reduction in peace making, not in making war on our own people who may be suffering from the impact of drugs and addictions.

At Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, we believe that harm reduction is about keeping individuals, families, and communities safe from the harmful effects of substance use. Harm reduction practices should be culturally safe and draw from our Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing to take care of each other, with kindness, compassion, and acceptance, to find another way.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the use of opioids and other substances surged, which deepened the crisis for First Nation communities who were already disproportionately affected by the overdose crisis.  Thunderbird began to receive requests from communities for help with harm reduction information. On May 4, 2022, Thunderbird’s Harm Reduction Working Group met to discuss developing a strategy to support Indigenous harm reduction practices in First Nation communities. The moved forward with Indigenous community conversations to inform key elements of the campaign. On March 2, 2023, in partnership with local organizations, Thunderbird launched a limited test campaign in three different First Nation communities in Canada.

The Thunderbird Partnership Foundation is a leading culturally centered voice across Canada on First Nations mental wellness, substance use and addictions. The organization supports an integrated and wholistic approach to healing and wellness serving First Nations and various levels of government, through research, training and education, policy and partnerships, and communications. For more information, please visit

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