New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council

LOFEO Helpline

1-833-MMI-FIND Helpline Development

In the early stages of the LOFEO project we began with visiting communities and organizations across the East, meeting with people and really listening to what they had to say. They provided us with the guidance on what is needed in their own lives, communities, and organizations to be supported and provide support going forward. In the LOFEO Sharing Circles people voiced their concerns around the lack of culturally appropriate resources for families when a loved one goes missing or is at risk of going missing. We were told that families and communities need a place to reach out to that can provide them with supports, information on services and resources that are available to them. After listening to the stories of those who participated in Sharing Circles, we moved on their suggestion to create an Indigenous-led helpline.

In a time of crisis, especially if someone has a loved one missing, it is a very stressful and scary situation. People aren’t always sure what to do and need a place to turn to that they trust. During our conversations many voiced their hesitancy to call the police for assistance due to the trust gap that exist between Indigenous people and the police. There are realistic fears of a discriminatory response or that their report might not be acted upon thoroughly or not at all, or that reporting a missing teenager could trigger a child protective services investigation. This was also reported by people that participated in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls[1].

From everything that was shared with us we knew that the project needed to start working on creating a helpline. We then brought this forth to the LOFEO Advisory Circle for discussion. This is when Gignoo Transition House graciously offered to host the helpline for New Brunswick. We naturally saw this as a good fit since the staff at Gignoo Transition House are trained and experienced to deal with people in crisis, and they already operate on a 24 hour a day – 7 day a week basis.

MMI-FIND Helpline Pilot

As a first step in the helpline pilot development, we researched helpline models and how they are implemented in New Brunswick. We quickly realized that it didn’t have to be overly complex and that it isn’t necessary to have a call-center style helpline. The project team and Gignoo Transition House discussed what would work for both community members and their organization that would house this helpline. We decided upon using a cellular phone for two main reasons – the helpline phone would be separate from the Gignoo crisis phoneline, and staff would easily be able to identify who was calling which phoneline. We then researched how we could link the cell phone with a toll-free number, that way people could call from anywhere free of charge and a caller could also have the option to text, in case they were using a cell phone and didn’t have any talking minutes for ‘pay as you go’ phones. We then decided upon the MMI FIND acronym, which we thought would be memorable. MMI FIND stands for missing and murdered Indigenous families in need of direction. This is how the New Brunswick LOFEO Helpline was born.

The helpline phone number is 1-833-MMI-FIND, this is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week service for all Indigenous community members to access across the province of New Brunswick.

Gignoo and the LOEO team discussed the kinds of supports that they need to be able to help callers and the types of supports people would be seeking when they called the helpline. This led to LOFEO researchers reviewing the current service landscape in New Brunswick to determine the resources, both Indigenous and mainstream, that are currently available for families when a loved one is missing.

LOFEO developed training materials specific for the Gignoo staff to assist callers. We worked together to develop the intake questions to vet the caller’s situation and needs. We did several training sessions with them until they were comfortable with the materials and providing supports to those that call the helpline.

We created the New Brunswick MMI FIND Helpline Navigation & Resource Guide, intake protocols, and information pamphlets specific to calling 911 in an emergency versus contacting the local police detachment, talking with police and what to expect when you report a missing person, and situations where someone might need to access a lawyer and legal services. The navigation and resource guide contains instructions and information for the staff to assist callers as well as the resources that exist within the province that range from emergency phone lines, policing detachments, media outlets, Indigenous and cultural resources, 2SLGBTQQIA+ specific services, legal and law services, and mental health resources.

One objective of the helpline is to make sure people understand what to expect when they call the police. Another is to provide information on legal supports since people shared that they were often unsure how to access legal services and the costs associated with it.

The LOFEO project also partnered with the Fredericton Legal Advice Clinic (FLAC) and UNB researchers at the faculty of law to develop cultural sensitivity and diversity training for FLAC lawyers and law students that take the clinical course and do their practicum there. Families can access culturally safe free legal supports through the helpline.

MMI-FIND Helpline Expansion

Through creating the New Brunswick helpline pilot we’ve developed a how to start a helpline guide, an intake process for people calling the helpline, a navigation and resource guide for staff to assist callers, information pamphlets, and promotional materials. We have also developed staff training materials, including a training manual that can be used as a model for future training sessions.

Our hope for the helpline is to serve all Indigenous people across the Eastern region through expanding this service in partnership with other organizations in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador.

[1] https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/.

Helpline Pamphlet

Calling 911 Pamphlet

talking to the police-01-01

Calling the Police Pamphlet

Calling a Lawyer Pamphlet

How to Start a Helpline
Helpline Launch Presentation
Looking our for each other

LOFEO Team

Looking Out For Each Other Project Art Expression

Local Wolastoq artist Susan Sacobie created a piece of art to represent the Looking Out For Each Other project. She says:“This painting is for the missing and murdered Wolastoqiyik & Mi’kmak women that were almost forgotten. The five women in this piece represent knowledge, faith, wisdom, justice and peace. They are wearing our traditional peaked hats decorated with the double curve motifs. The wampum belt on the bottom is our promise to each woman that their lives will be remembered, celebrated, honoured. The wampum belt is also a promise to each Native woman that we have to rebuild our matriarchal standing within each of our families & communities. We must humble ourselves and learn and teach one another about who we are, where we come from and to not be silent and share our individual stories so we can empower our sisters, stay connected and strong and in turn we keep our families and communities strong. Their connecting shields are protecting us and reminding each of us that it is an obligation and a privilege to guard one another because we are all connected.  As mothers and daughters, the living as well as the women who crossed the rainbow bridge we have to tell ourselves and each other our lives matter, we are important and we have to love and respect each other unconditionally and stand together.” These words and the voices of Indigenous women will continue to guide the project.

The Team

Barry Labillois
NBAPC President & Chief
Dr. Elizabeth Blaney
MMIWG Senior Advisor, CAP
Dr. Jula Hughes
Principal Investigator
Dr. Karen Pearlston
Co-Principal Investigator
Michelle Perley
Project Manager
Anthea Plummer
Project Engagement Officer
Della Brown
Project Elder

The research is supported by:

Community outreach is supported by: