Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, committee. It is an honour to appear before you today. My name is Namita Joshi and I am the Head of Granting and Strategic Partnerships at True Patriot Love Foundation.
True Patriot Love is a national charity dedicated to providing Canadian military and veteran families with the support they need and the hope they deserve. Since 2009 TPL has provided $25 million to fund innovative research and support 750 community-based programs across the country. By addressing the unique challenges resulting from military service, TPL has helped change the lives of more than 25,000 military families.
The True Patriot Love disbursement advisory committee was formed in 2016 to provide external advice to TPL's board of directors. The committee is chaired by a member of the TPL board of directors and has representation across the country from the business, research, government, and military sectors. The committee is also responsible for setting longer-term funding priorities for the organization that recognize emerging needs and opportunities for significant impact.
As an organization that strives to provide equitable funding opportunities across the country, TPL is committed to promoting communication and collaboration within the sector. We have strong relationships within the community and both within the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada.
Our funding does not overlap with government funding but rather complements it and offers an opportunity to address gaps where they may be identified. As a registered charity, TPL also offers agility, flexibility, and the ability to provide ”proof of concept” funding for programs in early stages of development.
Examples of successful collaboration include Prospect Human Services Forces@WORK, which received bridge funding earlier this year to ensure seamless delivery of transition services for veterans in Alberta.
In 2014, True Patriot Love raised $500,000 in private funds for the University of Southern California to Canadianize virtual reality software that is used in at least seven government-funded operational stress clinics across the country for the treatment of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress injury.
Our commitment of $5 million to the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research at Queen's University will enable academic researchers to study key determinants of military and veteran health and strengthen community-based programs as a benefit outcome.
In 2016, we conducted an internal review of regional representation and noticed that there were no programs funded in the Far North. This recognition was a step in our efforts to address the need for increased programming in remote regions, in particular within the indigenous veteran population.
It is no surprise that postings to remote geographical regions, deployments, reintegration, and frequent moves may cause stress on military families. Layered on top of this, the process of transition and unique cultural characteristics, including belief systems and family dynamics, may also contribute to the challenges faced by indigenous veterans in seeking access to care.
True Patriot Love recognized the continuum of service of indigenous veterans at our 2016 Toronto tribute dinner. An honest effort was also made to offer a distance coaching program for families within the Canadian rangers in two different communities. Although at that time we were unsuccessful, our commitment was unwavering. Identified challenges include communication, geography, resources, and timing. Sometimes you have to try a few times before you succeed, and we're willing to do that.
Earlier this year TPL secured private funding for the Veterans Transition Network to deliver a unique program for indigenous veterans in Manitoba later this year. VTN is one of our long-standing program delivery partners. TPL's investment has played an instrumental role in transforming it from a Vancouver-based program into a national, bilingual program.
Through our national network, TPL has assisted VTN in identifying new communities that are in need, most recently in Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Manitoba, and in raising local funds to support the delivery of the program.
TPL funding will support a VTN six-week pilot program dedicated to indigenous veterans in Manitoba. Working in partnership, we have the experience and ability to address regional and cultural needs within the veteran population. By engaging the experience of an indigenous adviser who has previously participated in the VTN program, it will be developed specifically for indigenous veterans to address cultural beliefs and practice. A robust communication plan, including personal outreach within the indigenous community in Manitoba to build trust and understanding, will be pivotal for delivery and expansion.
Program evaluation will occur immediately before, after, and at intervals of three, 12, and 18 months following the program. A variety of constructs have been linked to transition, such as quality of life, interpersonal well-being, and the ability to cope with life stressors, all of which will be measured. We are currently in the phase of confirming participation of a researcher who has worked within indigenous communities, is culturally informed, and is able to facilitate the building of relationships and trust.
The 2018 CIMVHR forum will provide an opportunity to discuss progress to date with a larger group of researchers and stakeholders in order to gain from collective experience. TPL recognizes that the strength of this initiative lies in collaboration with other entities. It is our hope that the dialogue will lead to further action.
As a result of a successful pilot project in Manitoba, we would like to see further expansion of programming. In an effort to transfer knowledge, TPL and VTN will develop a best practice guide to be shared with other community organizations interested in expanding their programs to include indigenous veterans.
As a final note, our intention is to create a culturally sensitive, practical guidebook that will draw on the strength of partners and educate service providers on a national level. We remain open to recommendation on other stakeholders who should be engaged and consulted to gain the deepest understanding of the topic before us.
Thank you for your time and consideration.