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Aboriginal Legal Services partners with Make Music Matter to create alternative model of mental health support and amplify Indigenous voices through song

Press Release

11/30/2022

Toronto – Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) will join forces with international NGO Make Music Matter (MMM) to develop a new culturally-based healing model for Toronto’s Indigenous community. The partnership will provide specialized training to the therapeutic and victim services team at ALS, allowing them to widen their multidisciplinary approach.

Workshops will center on MMM’s unique model of music therapy called Healing in Harmony. ALS staff and community partners will explore strategies to help trauma survivors take ownership of their healing journey through the creative process, while integrating traditional Indigenous healing methods.

ALS’s Legal Director, Christa Big Canoe, expresses her enthusiasm for the Culture to Wellness project as a means to increase and build capacity of staff who have been delivering trauma- informed and Indigenous-specific services for decades. She said, “As a long known leader in advocacy against gender-based violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+, ALS embraces this project and partnerships to provide staff new approaches and opportunities to tailor healing practices for survivors of violence and harm.” She added, “Using artistic approaches that are grounded in traditional and cultural practices allows us as an Indigenous service organization to provide the best services to our community.”

The two-year project, Culture to Wellness: Reimagining Holistic Healing Approaches for Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, is supported by the Government of Canada with funding of $365,516.

“The high rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are alarming. We can’t undo the trauma they’ve experienced, but we can provide the necessary tools and training to support survivors of gender-based violence and their families,” says the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth. “We cannot achieve true and lasting gender equality without ensuring the safety of diverse Indigenous peoples. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the important work of Indigenous organizations across the country, including these critical and important services. Investing in these projects will address systemic issues and move us forward on the path to reconciliation.”

The initiative marks a milestone for MMM as they bring their Healing in Harmony model home to Canada in a formal partnership for the first time. “We are honoured to partner with ALS to implement new ways of integrating music into their holistic healing approach. I look forward to the differences we make together in addressing the effects of the largest historical blight in this country,” says MMM founder and CEO Darcy Ataman.

About Aboriginal Legal Services

For over 30 years, Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) is one of the leading non-profit organizations supporting Indigenous people and communities and a national leader in Indigenous justice and advocacy. ALS’ mission is to strengthen the capacity of the Indigenous community and its citizens to deal with justice issues and to provide Indigenous-controlled and culturally-based justice alternatives and healing.

About Make Music Matter

Make Music Matter uses the creative process as a therapeutic tool to help empower marginalized individuals and communities to recover, reintegrate, and reclaim their future with hope and dignity. Its innovative Healing in Harmony music therapy program has been clinically proven to help reduce PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Healing in Harmony has helped transform the lives of over 10,000 individuals in eight countries worldwide. Participants emerge with a renewed sense of agency and self-worth. Their original songs are professionally produced and released globally, serving as advocacy tools to promote human rights and combat stigma.

For further information and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Aboriginal Legal Services:
Christa Big Canoe, Legal Director
[email protected],
416-408-4041

Make Music Matter:
Rebecca Purver, Media and Communications Manager
[email protected],
​514-578-2036

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