Indigenous Health and Wellness Program

BreatheFirst combines traditional healing with medical research to improve mental and physical well-being in Indigenous communities through the breath.


Breathing is our most important source of energy, even more, important than what we eat or what we drink. It’s the first thing we do coming into this plane and the last thing we do when we leave. How we breathe at the moment will direct how we feel in that moment and affect the critical balance of the B4(Before) – Breath, Body, Brain, Being.

The balance of the B4(Before) is interwoven with the values and beliefs of the First Nations holistic medicine wheel. This circle of health and healing begins by creating a deeper connection with self. Once established, the reach continues to extend outward strengthening the ties between family, community, and Nation.

Today, dysfunctional breathing patterns are a major health detriment and we are only using around 60% of the potential aerobic energy from the air around us; often much less. What this means is that every day when we wake, we take nearly half of our body’s most important energy supply and throw it down the drain.

How we breathe is how we feel, how we breath is how we live.

The echoing effects of colonialism and geographical displacement have been strongly linked to negative health and wellness outcomes. BreatheFirst acknowledges the intergenerational trauma and associated health detriments. These roots of health inequities, social determinants, and unbalanced wellness need to be addressed through a return to traditional ways of knowing.
BreatheFirst works to restore the balance of the B4(Before) by restoring traditional breathing to improve mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Community-driven, holistic wellness is widely believed to lead to better long-term health benefits and results for First Nations individuals, families, communities, and nations.
BreatheFirst facilitates training and supports community leaders in the development of sustainable, breathwork programs that re-engage the community members in active and healthy lifestyles while also reconnecting them with the land and tradition.

Evidence-based medical and clinical research has shown that the specific breathing techniques learned through BreathFirst can help participants of all ages in aspects of the prevention, support and recovery from the following conditions, disorders and diseases.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Asthma
  • Respiratory Illness / COPD
  • COVID-19
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart Disease
  • Sleep Apnea / Disordered Sleeping
  • Post Traumatic Stress (PTS)
  • Addiction / Substance use

BreatheFirst Training Program

The BreathFirst team comprised of indigenous and non-indigenous culturally competent health care workers, professional coaches and Breath Control Trainer’s (BCT’s) deliver in community training for individuals of all ages. These are fun, engaging workshops where participants will become aware and learn how to support their physical, mental, spiritual and cultural needs through breathwork.

Participants will work with the BreatheFirst team and community leaders to develop their own plan to reach their individualized health and wellness goals.
Along with personal goal setting, health screeners and questionnaires will also be in place to track progress and program effectiveness, provide critical research and retain engagement of the participants within the program.

BreatheFirst Community Leader (BFCL) Training

BreathFirst focuses on increasing capacity within indigenous communities and offers training sessions for community leaders, health managers/directors and local health practitioners. BFCL’s will learn how to conduct specialized health screenings, formulate data and report independently. Resources, training and supplies will be provided.

BFCL’s will also receive advanced training and be capable of providing breathwork instruction and support. This community-driven approach will help ensure retention of the participants new found skills along with the connected health benefits. BFCL’s will also learn tools and techniques to assist with acute or deescalate heightened situations through the breath.

CALMS Ceremony

A closing ceremony will take place on the final day to celebrate the restoration of the traditional breath. This will be an engaging and immersive event where participants will use their breath to Connect with Air, Land, Mountains and Sea.

“The air, water, trees, mountains, medicines, songs and ceremonies: everything we have is sacred. We only hold onto them a little while for the next generation. We must ensure that seven generations have the same thing.” – — Willie Charlie, Chaquawet Sts’ailes First Nations Health Council

Health and Wellness Outcomes & Benefits

  • Improve mental health and wellness
  • Empower the community, build leadership capacity and promote healthy living
  • Align health and wellness with community values and priorities
  • Boost physical activity and access to sport and recreation
  • Build confidence, resilience and self-esteem
  • Encourage commercial tobacco and vaping cessation
  • Celebrate traditions and culture
  • Promote holistic healing, health promotion, and disease prevention (non-pharmacological)
  • Deepen a connection with self, family, community, and the land
  • Increase self-reliance and local food security
  • Instill calming, concentration, and self-regulation techniques

The “Ascending Salmon” logo was designed in collaboration by Kwakwaka’wakw Artist Jamin Zuroski and BreatheFirst Founder Tyler Huston.

This design symbolizes the healthy and balanced ways we navigate through life.

Through partnership, collaboration and core values, like those of the salmon, we’re reminded that we each hold great intuition, poise and purpose.

Learning, implementing and embracing a healthy lifestyle, all starts with what we call B4 – Before, Breathe, Body and Being. B4 are the pillars that remind us of how we BreatheFirst, to strengthen our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well being and our performance in sport and in life.

Once we Breathe First, we will grow, expand and strengthen connections with ourselves, our friends, teammates, family and community.

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