The Southern Chiefs' Organization (SCO) is launching a new initiative to help those who are in crisis.

The organization is starting a Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) program, which will feature people who are trained in trauma-informed practice and will be able to offer crisis response, intervention, and case coordination services.

"The issue has been years and years of intergenerational trauma that has led to a crisis in many of our communities as it relates to suicide, as it relates to substance abuse and really just poverty," said Jerry Daniels, SCO Grand Chief.

"This is so very important. Our young people need it; many of our older people need it."

The program will be working with Knowledge Keepers, Elders, and culturally appropriate mental health and clinical wellness service providers to tackle a wide variety of issues from mental health and addiction support to short-term counselling and grief and loss support.

"We want to be able to support and assist and give every avenue that we can in terms of helping people through this."

Daniels said another goal of this program is to create crisis intervention hubs in communities to provide more support to those who need it.

The MCRT team is made up of a psychiatric nurse, therapists, trauma-informed counsellors, mental health and wellness specialists, and cultural supports and includes Anishinaabemowin language speakers.

“Being able to offer trauma support in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner is key when it comes to this kind of service,” said Dakota Tipi First Nation Chief Eric Pashe in a news release. “The discovery of the unmarked graves of the children last summer, combined with the isolation of the pandemic, have triggered deep trauma in our communities, and this support cannot come soon enough.”

The MCRT program will be available seven days a week, 24 hours a day and the program can be reached at 1-877-726-2880 or by email at crisisresponse@scoinc.mb.ca.