Supporting Wellbeing wins one-time premiers’ award for innovation

Supporting Wellbeing has been selected by Canada’s premiers as the NWT’s winner of an award for innovation in mental health and addictions care.

The NWT-based training program helps people delivering land-based programming mitigate and respond to mental health challenges they encounter on-the-land. Participants learn how to deliver trauma-informed programming, as well as skills like suicide intervention and participant aftercare.

In February, Canada’a premiers announced the one-time innovation award to “recognize and support individuals and organizations excelling in the field [of mental health and addictions care].” Each premier then presented one program in their province or territory with the award in October – as well as $5,000 to go toward that organization’s work.


It’s not Supporting Wellbeing’s first prize – it also won a $500,000 Arctic Inspiration Prize earlier this year.

“Supporting Wellbeing was born out of a community-identified need. On-the-land leaders gathered in 2018 and stated that they needed a made-in-the-NWT, trauma-informed, on-the-land training program,” wrote Rachel Cluderay, the project director. 

So Cluderay sat down with Jimmy Ruttan and Kristen Tanche and began to develop Supporting Wellbeing, and just two weeks ago their organization delivered a pilot facilitator training in the Dehcho.

The team, along with the newly trained facilitators, plans to deliver four more training sessions by March 2023. Their larger goal is to deliver Supporting Wellbeing in all NWT communities by 2030 and have a facilitator in each region.

“I envision a future where on the land programmers feel more confident to create programs that support wellbeing and respond to challenges as they come up, where program participants feel safe and supported before, during, and after the land-based program, and where our communities are taking care of each other and thriving,” Cluderay wrote.


“This award reinforces how important this work is, and will help us to leverage more funding opportunities to support our vision,” she said.

The premiers also give out an annual literacy award each year. In September, the Western Arctic Youth Collective was the NWT’s 2022 recipient.