Evaluating COVID‑19 Mental Health and Child Welfare Supports at the Under One Sky Friendship Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick
The COVID‑19 pandemic, and its associated economic, social and political consequences, have had a noticeable and detrimental impact on urban Indigenous communities. Separation from their families and communities, job loss, and limited social and educational opportunities are adding to the sense of isolation many urban Indigenous peoples already feel. In response, the Under One Sky Friendship Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick has been able to quickly develop and launch the Sakelemelsowaken Family Success Program, which consists of two pilot wellness initiatives to address the unmet and exacerbated needs of the regional Indigenous community: one is an Indigenous nursing outreach program to support the strengths and enhance the success of Indigenous families; the other, an Indigenous mental wellness counselling and referral program that serves everyone who seeks support. This research project will entail a community-driven evaluation of this COVID‑19 related wellness program. The evaluation will help identify and assess priority goals and outcomes, from the point of view of the Friendship Centre, its clients, Elders and other stakeholders. This will inform adjustments in services in order to best meet the needs of Fredericton’s Indigenous community; improve our understanding of the immediate impacts of COVID‑19 on urban Indigenous populations, including any differences in impacts faced by men, women, children and gender diverse individuals; and provide much needed evaluation and improvement data for wellness services of this nature, which are common across Canada. Finally, it will build capacity within the Friendship Centre to better collect data and evaluate their own programming going forward.