BreatheFirstIndigenous Health and Wellness Program
BreatheFirst combines traditional healing with medical research to improve mental and physical well-being in Indigenous communities through the breath.
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.
- Respiratory Illness / COPD
- 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.
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