Healing and wellness resources

Engaging with Indian Residential School histories and impacts can lead to emotional reactions and (unexpectedly) difficult thoughts and feelings. Sometimes these can surface hours, days, or weeks later. This is perfectly normal. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it is important to respect your needs and to be kind to yourself. 

Common Reactions You May Experience

  • Emotional: Sadness, anger, frustration, feeling alone, mistrust of others, feeling guilt, shame, blame, fear, hopelessness, and/or overwhelmed
  • Spiritual: Wondering about your beliefs and/or values, doubting the kindness of people, not feeling in touch with yourself
  • Physical: Trouble sleeping, nightmares, stomach ache, nausea, headaches, crying, panic attacks, general body aches
  • Behavioural: Flashbacks, agitation, appetite changes, isolating self, mood swings, shock, difficulty concentrating

If you experience any of these reactions, know that they are not uncommon. To help process and/or cope with reactions, you can try some of the self-care strategies listed below. 

Self-Care Strategies 

If at any point you feel overwhelmed, or otherwise unable or uninterested in engaging, feel free to take a break with a friend or by yourself. Taking time out is an important coping strategy. 

You know yourself and your needs best. It is okay to take time and space to meet those needs, and to be supported in doing so:

  • Make a cup of tea. 
  • Eat something. 
  • Try moving around.
  • Go for a short walk. Try going outside if weather permits.
  • What are your senses telling you about your surroundings? Identify colours, sounds, or smells in the room.
  • Try closing your eyes and taking deep, slow breaths.
  • Make a list of things that make you feel strong and safe. Keep the list to reference and add to.
  • Call one of the crisis numbers listed below or reach out to a counselor.


Survivors and family members

Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) services include grief and loss counselling, crisis counselling, trauma counselling, Family and Group counselling and other supports including Traditional Healing Methods & Medicines, for more information please visit their website. Or, phone the IRSSS Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 (Open 24 hours a day 7 days a week)

Indian Residential Schools Mental Health Support Program (Government of Canada) provides mental and emotional health support services to eligible former Indian Residential School students and their families throughout all phases of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, for more information phone Toll-Free 1-877-477-0775.

Indigenous Peoples and community members

FNHA First Nations Health Benefits Mental Health Providers List If you have questions about providers you can call the IRS toll-free number at 1.877.477.0775 Monday to Friday 8 am – 4 pm or download the service provider list.

Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. 

  • Phone and chat counselling is available in English, French, and Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut on request. 
  • Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or use the chat box on their website.

Métis Crisis Line. Call 1-833-Metis-BC (1-833-638-4722), 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.

Crisis Centre BC. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or thinking about suicide, call or chat online with a crisis responder any time: 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE), (24 hours a day), crisiscentre.bc.ca

Aboriginal Health Program, run by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, offers adult counselling and support groups at 2750 East Hastings Street, Suite 288, Vancouver; Phone: 604-675-2551 or visit their website.


We Matter is a place for Indigenous young people to turn for uplift, support, or reminder that you matter. Get help now.

Here2Talk Accessible anywhere in the world, this service provides free, 24/7 single-session counselling by phone or online chat for all UBC students.

Developing Personal and Academic Resilience is a health strategy and self-care workbook for post-secondary students.

UBC Vancouver

  • Counselling Services
    • Counselling for Indigenous students. Professional and culturally relevant counselling is available at the First Nations Longhouse and at the UBC Counselling Services Centre in Brock Hall. Contact the Aboriginal Student and Community Development Officer at the First Nations House of Learning, 604-822-8941 or fnhl.community@ubc.ca.
    • Counselling for all students is available via 1040 Brock Hall, 1874 East Mall, Vancouver, call 604-822-3811.
  • Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO)
    • The SVPRO is a confidential place for those who have experienced, or been impacted by, any form of sexual or gender-based violence, harassment, or harm, regardless of where or when it took place. SVRPO aims to be a safe space for all by respecting each person’s unique and multiple identities and experiences. All genders and sexualities are welcome.
    • Indigenous students, staff and faculty are welcome to connect with Lauren Casey, Indigenous Support Specialist and Educator with SVPRO, to receive support, connect with resources, get involved, or even just ask questions. Lauren’s email is lauren.casey@ubc.ca. To learn more about SVPRO check out their website, or follow them on Instagram.
  • AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre
    • Open daily from 8 am-10 pm, the SASC provides services to Survivors of sexualized violence as well as their friends and family. This includes people of all genders, students, staff, faculty and all others connected to the UBC-Vancouver campus community. 
    • Support can be accessed by drop-in or by scheduling an appointment. Call 604-827-5180 or email sasc@ams.ubc.ca. For more information about available services, visit their website.

UBC Okanagan

  • Health and Wellness. UNC337 – 3272 University Way, Kelowna, call 250-807-9270.

UBC faculty and staff

UBC Employee & Family Assistance Program

Family Services of Greater Vancouver offers general counselling. Please phone 604-874-2938 to speak to an intake worker to connect you with the best services for you.

BC Bereavement Hotline offers free and confidential telephone support for individuals experiencing loss and grief. Visit their website or call 1-877-779-2223.

Crisis Centre BC. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or thinking about suicide, call or chat online with a crisis responder any time: 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE), (24 hours a day), crisiscentre.bc.ca

Anywhere in BC 1-800-SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433

Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789

Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311