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Does your Employee Assistance Program Offer Help to Indigenous Employees?

Photo by Zbysiu Rodak on Unsplash

Services for First Nations and Indigenous Employees

I have been doing some more research on Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and came across Homewood Health.  Not only do they provide a comprehensive EAP, they also specialize in First Nations, Aboriginal and Indigenous care.

Below is the information from Homewood Health, it is longer than normal but I felt it was important to provide all the information on this benefit.

We are one of the largest providers to Aboriginal peoples in Canada. We have worked with some of these organizations to offer support through a more culturally traditional approach, with approved Elders and Healers. We developed this in response to our clients’ needs and in particular the needs of a number of nations, communities and organizations we serve.

The program is created and rolled out collaboratively between the customer, and with Homewood, and can incorporate both Elders and/or Traditional Healers, depending on preference.  The program would be available for any eligible employees.

Homewood will work with our customer to provide a unique EFAP service option through a network of customer identified and approved Elders, Spiritual Healers and First Nations Treatment Facilities. Any employee who requests it can receive counselling by means of this more culturally traditional approach.

Based on our current experience, most clients who come forward requesting an Elder, self-identify their choice of Elder, usually within his/her own community. This is the current structure of the program designed to accommodate the unique needs of various communities. Alternatively, in a circumstance that an Elder is not self-identified at the point of intake, we could offer to connect the employee to an Elder identified on an approved list developed in conjunction with our customer.

Homewood will work with our customer to customize a program. However, our services can include the following:

Work collaboratively with our customer to maintain a list of approved Elders and Traditional Healers within the communities where their employees reside and/or work.

Manage inquires and intake regarding the service and to ensure the Elder or Traditional Healer is on the approved list as agreed-upon with our customer

If a requested Elder or Traditional Healer is not on the list HHI will contact  our customer for confirmation prior to confirming the service

Once confirmed, a Participant Letter and Consent and Client Information Document sent by Homewood to the Client via email or regular mail

Administer a gift to the Elder or Traditional Healer once the above steps are completed

Our philosophy in these instances is to provide service in a manner that is not only the most effective for the client requesting the support, but also in a manner that is coordinated responsibly and professionally.

Program Details

When implemented, the program is jointly developed with our customers, and is customized based on regional/cultural needs and organizational preferences. Since the culture and traditions of each community are so diverse, Homewood relies on our customers to work with the appropriate agencies and at a community level to identify culturally appropriate Elders/Traditional Healers.  In other words, Homewood does not recruit or staff this program, but instead facilitates it. The customer liaison will work at a community level to identify the needs of their employee population and then work to engage with the Elders within the respective communities.

From there, an ‘eligibility list’ is placed in our system with these approved Elders/Traditional Healers, so when an employee calls in, they would be connected to an appropriate Elder in their respective community.

At time of intake, the CSC would initiate a session in the system, and then provide the employee with a consent form and information form for review and signature.  The employee would then also provide the form to the Elder to review and sign.

Alternatively, the employee is able to request an Elder of their choosing, if they prefer.  We would then collect the necessary information from the client (the employee) around this Elder.

We are also able to provide this service on an ad hoc basis, if there is a single employee interested in meeting with an elder.  In this case, we would follow the same basic process.

The employee is able to see the elder up to 4 times per year, and each session, Homewood provides a gift to the Elder.  These sessions may vary in length; this is jointly determined by the employee and Elder.

As the program is developed very much in collaboration with the customer, program structure and details will vary depending on the needs of the population, and customer preference.  This implementation process is key to the success of the program, and would involve key contacts, the account management team, and subject matter experts at Homewood.

In addition to the Elders, our current network of registered licensed counsellors includes well more than 1,000 professionals who identify as with extensive experience in counselling clients within the aboriginal community.  We also have an ongoing recruiting campaign to attract First Nations and Metis counsellors to our network.


We have extensive experience in supporting First Nations organizations, delivering EFAP programs to organizations across Saskatchewan and Canada, not limited to: Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, Treaty 4 Education Alliance, Lower Similkameen Indian Band, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, Battleford First Nations High School-Joint Board of Education, First Nations Insurance Services Limited Partnership, First Nations University of Canada, Sakimay First Nations, Western First Nations Hospitality Limited Partnership, Cowichan Indian Band, Okanagan Indian Band, Peguis Indian Band, Kitasoo Band Council, Division #414.

For more information on this benefit and to review your complete benefit plan, contact Glendinning Insurance Services at 250-764-0142.

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