Thunder Bay

Support for Aboriginal women a phone call away

Aboriginal women from across the north now have their own crisis line.

24-hour crisis help line offers multi-lingual support

From left, Norrine Carroll, executive assistant to Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro; Agnes Hardy, elder; Cindy Cade, ONWA executive assistant; Robin Haliuk, Talk4Healing co-ordinator; Patricia Jurivee, Beendigen executive director; and Jerry Woods, MCSS program director, celebrate the launch of a new service designed to help Aboriginal women in crisis. (Talk4Healing)

Aboriginal women from across northern Ontario now have their own crisis line.

Talk 4 Healing — launched on Friday — provides crisis counselling and referral service in English, Cree, Oji-Cree and Ojibway languages.

Program co-ordinator Robin Haliuk said it’s important the service is for Aboriginal women and provided by Aboriginal women.

The people answering the phones "really do understand the realities of living in a fly-in access only community and understanding sometimes the band office is all there is," she said.

Billed as the first of its kind in Ontario, the program will be operated by Beendigen in partnership with the Ontario Native Women’s Association.

A news release said the service will provide culturally sensitive crisis counselling, advice and support, personalized information and referrals, acceptance of Aboriginal women’s issues in a non-judgmental way, scheduled telephone counselling sessions and help to find the path to personal healing.

"The communities spoke up and the leaders spoke up and said we need something, we need something for our women and our children and our families," Haliuk said. "We need them to feel safe in their communities and have services accessible to them."

The service will be available 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.

The new number is 1-855-554-HEAL. A website is also available at