Organizational History and Legacy

It is always important to document the life of an organization, ensuring that its rich history, its journey, its achievements, its challenges and victories are not lost to our collective memory. We believe the creation and the evolutionary development of the Indigenous Certification Board of Canada are significant events in the pursuit of all First Nations communities towards the recovery of a state of wellness, prosperity and influence in the world. This is still a work in progress, and we trust the legacy of the First Nations Wellness and Addiction Counsellor Certification Board (our former name) will continue to emerge as the organization grows and evolves

The process to create the first Aboriginal Addictions Counsellor Board in Canada began in 1980, at the direction of the Association of B.C. First Nations Treatment Programs (ABCFNTP).
This initiative was in recognition of the need to develop competitive standards on a par with those of other international credentialing bodies, and to meet the increasing accountability required by the federal government.

Members of the ABCFNTP, motivated by the need to: 1) enhance the quality of training and practice of addiction workers in treatment centres and community-based services; 2) establish practice standards based on competencies matching those of mainstream addiction’s professionals; 3) respond to the specific needs of Aboriginal clients, and 4) improve Aboriginal addiction workers professional recognition and better career conditions. This began to pave the way for the establishment of a provincial Aboriginal Wellness and Addictions Counsellors Certification Board. This Board would also be able to provide certification to other workers in other parts of Canada.

Over the years, the federal government, through a series of national reports and strategies, recognized the need to establish an Aboriginal certification process, relevant to First Nations and Inuit philosophies, differentiated from other addiction certification bodies. Health Canada continued to promote excellence in the individual performance of addiction workers, so that they deliver the best quality of care possible.

Since the beginning of its existence, FNWACCB has shared Health Canada’s objectives. These objectives are reflected in the vision, mission and objectives we established as we evolved into a national organization, with standards on a par with international certification bodies.

Indigenous communities will benefit from an abundance of valued, professionally certified, and culturally competent workers leading to healthy families and communities.
FNWACCB Vision 2012
Our mission is to provide professional certification and accredit training and education programs that honour traditional Indigenous culture and healing philosophies, leading to a more highly skilled and effective workforce serving Indigenous people
FNWACCB Mission 2012

1982 – The first pioneering, concrete effort at establishing these culture-based standards was undertaken in 1982 by Wayne Christian and Charles McLaughlin, with the development of a MSB-funded pilot project. At the time, although judged as an excellent process, the project could not be financially sustained.

1989 – 1992 – Wayne Christian and Charles McLaughlin work with a consultant to develop and pilot a test for addictions counsellors. This is funded by MSB (FNIHB) on a pilot basis. The counsellors at two treatment centres write the test and are then evaluated. They see this as a good process but the cost of creating and maintaining it is seen as being too high, as there was no board of directors at the time and the cost of the readiness/testing/marking/comparison, was about $1,000.00 per person. The high cost was due to the fact that a consultant had to be hired every time there was an applicant, to administer the test, do the scoring, and to analyze the results and compare them to the standards.

June 2004 – The decision is made to embark on the planning process leading to the creation and incorporation of the first Aboriginal Counsellor Certification Board in Canada, an initiative embraced by the members present at the AGM. They examine the work already done, based on the North West Certification Board in the USA, (the first of its kind in North America), and conduct a brainstorming session to determine the future direction. Candace Dion writes a letter to FNIHB after the AGM, asking for them to consider a project for the development of a certification process for Indigenous addiction workers in British Columbia, should any new funding become available in the fiscal year as a “one-time only” project.

December 2004 – Patricia Starr, FNIHB Treatment Manager, receives an email from Ottawa stating that there were funds available to each region from the CDs funding, and that each region had to submit a proposal for one-time funding that could be completed by March 31/05. The total funding per region was $50,000. Patricia Starr is given the task to prepare the proposal and submits it to Health Canada Head Quarters.

January – February 2005 – The $50,000 funding is granted at the end of January, and the Contribution Agreement is signed in February. The project starts at the end of February. Two consultants are hired: Patrick Paul, an Indigenous consultant, develops a draft of the certification process based on the North West Certification Board in the USA and the International Consortium & Certification Reciprocity’s guidelines (IC&RC). The key elements of these guidelines, are the twelve (12) core functions recognized and adopted internationally, for addiction counsellors. The second consultant, Bette Tsamegaal, acts as Project Coordinator, to ensure that everything is completed by the end of March.

The Board re-defines and adapts the certification process and documents, to meet the needs of First Nations addiction workers in Canada. Terminology and other details are changed to reflect Canadian content and context. The documents and tools supporting this process are developed (website, certification standards, and policy/procedures manual, code of ethics, forms, brochures etc.).

March 2005 – The Association of B.C. First Nations Treatment Programs elects nine delegates to serve on a certification board. Composition of the Board includes one Elder delegate, four treatment program representatives, one counsellor from another agency, one delegate from the Community Health Associates of B.C., one delegate from Aboriginal Mental Health, and one associate member.

May 2005 – NNAPF approaches FNWACCB with a proposal to expand the certification process, from a provincial to a national level. At that time FNIHB is informed that the Pacific Region had been supporting the First Nations Wellness and Addiction Counsellor Certification Board as a British Columbia initiative. Health Canada informed FNWACCB that if they received additional funding in their budget, that efforts would be made to increase funding to FNWAACB, so that the agency could offer services across the country.

June 2005 – The FNWACCB writes and submits a work plan to apply for $80,000 in funding from the Enhanced Funds Budget (H.C.). These funds are granted, in order to complete the initial stage of organizational development, from September 2005 to March 2006.

November 2005 – The organization is incorporated in British Columbia, as an independent Society, with a mandate to provide professional certification services, to Indigenous wellness and addictions counsellors. FNWACCB puts forward its concept of certification, with an initial presentation at the NNAPF national conference in November 2005, in Richmond, B.C. The agency follows up with a campaign of presentations and other promotional activities to other NNAPF regions.

August 2006 – Delegated board members, approach FNIHB management, Mr. Ryan Flannagan, (Manager Community Programs Directorate) & Mr. Robin Dupuis, (Senior Addictions Advisor, Mental Health/Addictions), at the “Healing Our Spirit Worldwide” conference, held in Edmonton, Alberta. They lobby government officials on behalf of FNWACCB, and the creation of a national Indigenous certification agency.

October 2006 – The certification process is completed and FNWACCB starts awarding certifications, for B.C. treatment centre addiction workers. A time-limited application period is set aside, to permit applications from individuals with prior experience, to be eligible under “grand-fathering” guidelines.

April 2007 – On the strength of the meeting between the agency’s newly delegated board members, and Mr. Ryan Flannagan, and Mr. Robin Dupuis, the agency submits a funding proposal to FNIHB, in support of the First Nations Wellness/Addictions Counsellor Certification Board.

July 2007 – After several revisions, FNIHB agrees to provide the requested financial resources to support FNWACCB’s counsellor certification services which are based on traditional First Nations healing philosophies and cultures.

End of 2008 – Early 2009 – One and a half years after receiving funds under the 2007 Contribution Agreement, FNIHB arranges for a third-party operational and service review. The agency selected to conduct the review, is Healthy Horizons Consulting. The purpose of the review is to look at the progress made by FNWACCB, the challenges facing the fledgling agency, and to provide the organization with an opportunity to learn from the review process, in order to improve its planning, governance, and service delivery.

April 2009 – The final report (McReary Report), on the operational review of FNWACCB is presented to Health Canada and FNWACCB, with several recommendations. Agency board members and staff review the report, and set up a meeting to discuss the contents with FNIHB officials. One of the core beliefs stated in the report, is the recognition that in order to be effective and sustainable, a professional certification body needs to operate on a national basis, from coast to coast, and in the north.

End of April 2009 – FNWACCB develops and submits its 2009-2010 Work Plan for a Contribution Agreement budget of $ 325,000.00

May 2009 – Teleconferenced presentation of the final Report by author John McCready, Review Consultant and Project Manager for Healthy Horizons to the FNWACCB.

June 2009 – At the AGM, the board recognizes the need to reconfigure the organization so that all resources are centrally located and fully streamlined.

July 2009 – FNWACCB develops a draft action plan to implement the review recommendations.

December 2009 – FNWACCB develops a communications strategy reflecting its status as a national organization, as well as a one year plan (December 2009-March 2010) to move key communications and networking review recommendations forward.

February 2010 – FNWACCB undertakes restructuring at its Board meeting. The board elects a new President and plans next steps to implement and fulfill the recommendations of the organizational review.

March 2010 – The Board appoints a new Executive Director, Vince Battistelli, specialist in organizational development to manage the restructuring of FNWACCB. His immediate responsibilities are to ensure that the governance structure is in place, that certification processes are conducted in a timely manner, and that the needs of the Bands, Tribes and Aboriginal organizations/individuals are being met. In addition, his tasks were to ensure that the agency reach the goal of certifying the Aboriginal addictions specialists in the field and that FNWACCB successfully move forward to become a national organization.

March – June 2010 – Restructuring activities undertaken by the Executive Director include: securing a new office, developing/implementing better and more effective communications, increase promotion and networking activities, consolidating the organizational database, updating the bilingual website, as well as the registration and follow-up services for certification applicants.

June – July 2010 – Health Canada, First Nations & Inuit Branch, Community Programs Directorate, Mental Health and Addictions Division, sends FNWACCB the request for proposals 2010-2012, for a national Aboriginal addictions workers certification body. This request for proposal will enable the agency selected to obtain funding to certify the NNADAP and NYSAP workers, that Health Canada estimated at about 1400.

September 2010 – Health Canada selects FNWACCB as the national Aboriginal certification organization, insuring the maintenance of competent certified Aboriginal addictions workers.

September 2010 – January 2011 – FNWACCB enthusiastically continues its comprehensive work to establish itself as a viable national Aboriginal agency, that is responsive to the needs of First Nation, Metis and Inuit workers across the country, by successfully implementing the requirements of the Health Canada request for proposal.

April 2011 – A new Registrar and Director of Standards is hired.

June 2011 – A new Executive Director and Administrative Assistant are hired.

2012 – 2013 – Continued implementation of the activities linked to our organizational mandates – Highlights:

  • Development and implementation of new accreditation services and processes, for training program provided by a variety of institutions, agencies, organizations, companies and independent training professionals
  • Initial stage of the development of a certification exam for addictions specialists at level III
  • Finalization and launch of new certification for wellness and addictions workers
  • Preparation of a new clinical supervisor certification
  • MOU with the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation
  • Accreditation of NNAPF courses

2013 – 2014 – Continued expansion and implementation of the activities linked to our organizational mandates- Highlights:

  • MOU with Youth Solvent Abuse Commission (YSAC)
  • MOU and implementation of collaborative projects with the First Nations Health Managers Association, in particular the possibility for our certified professionals interested in a future career in management to acquire management training from the FNHMA with the view to eventually apply for the professional certification with the FNHMA.
  • Launch of the clinical supervisor’s certification
  • Development and launch of two certification specializations in FASD and responsible gambling
  • Accreditation of several programs offered by educational institutions and other training providers
  • Continued development of the Indigenous exam guide, editing and translation of the exam questions

April 2014 – In compliance with the new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, our agency begins the changes to its bylaws and constitution and also begins to prepare the process to apply for charitable status to the Charities Directorate, under the Canada Revenue Agency.

May 2014 – The Board of Directors votes to change the name of our agency to the Indigenous Certification Board of Canada (ICBOC)

September 2014 – Industry Canada informs us that we have complied with all the requirements of the new law and that our new name has been accepted. Our agency is incorporated federally as the Indigenous Certification Board of Canada (ICBOC).

October 2014 – The Board directs the executive director to begin process of application to the Charities Directorate (CRA) to obtain charitable status for the Indigenous Certification Board of Canada.

December 2014 – ICBOC presents at the World Indigenous Health Conference in Cairns, Australia, thanks to a $5,000 grant from the ICEIS Group, an Indigenous industrial safety company based in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

April 2015 – The 2014-15 fiscal year marks a reduction of $75,000 in our contribution agreement funding from Health Canada, from $325,000 to $250,000 per year. This requires a reduction of our administrative support position from full to half time, as well as necessitating a greater reliance on revenue raised from certifications and accreditations.

Over three years, from fiscal 2012-13 to 2014-15, the number of certifications increased by 114 or 52%, with an average increase of over 25% each year, and an increase by over 100% from the 157 registrants in 2011, to 332 in 2015.

August 2015 – ICBOC is granted Charity Status

December 2015 – ICBOC presents at the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide in Hamilton, New Zealand. The presentation is well received and promising contacts are made with several Maori organizations involved in training and certification of the wellness and addiction workforce in New Zealand.
January 2016 – Invitation, from Alberta Mental Health & Addictions Subcommittee to present at their regional meeting of Co-management. This committee wishes to get better acquainted with the three certification boards in Canada, in order to ensure that only appropriate bodies will be able to provide certification services to NNADAP workers in Alberta.

March 2016 – Consultations in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik with Inuit Elders, members of staff of the Isuarsivik Treatment Centre, other front line workers, managers, employers, and representatives on the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services involved in the wellness and addictions field. Purpose is to develop Inuit-specific certifications or to adapt our existing certifications. ICBOC executive director has also been asked to provide a training/consultation session in developing Inuit specific ethics model.

May 2016 – Onsite visit in Clyde River, Nunavut, for the final accreditation phase of the Inuit-specific training developed by the Ilisaqsivik Society for Inuit wellness and addictions front line workers.