Collective approach to problem gambling prevention

(left to right) Back row: Crystal Cummings (UOI), Lyndia Jones (IFN), Ted
Norris (MNO), Angel Maracle (OFIFC), Loma Rowlinson (MNO), Vikki German
(Ministry of Health and Long Term Care), Lisa Jackson (AIAI)
Front row: Jennifer Cornell (ONWA), Kathy Adcock (NAN), Lynda
McDonald (KC), and Wenda Watteyne (MNO).

Last spring, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care selected the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) to take on the role of lead coordinator of the Ontario Aboriginal Responsible Gambling Program (OARGP) working group. MNO was the successful candidate due to their administrative capacity, experience in working with Aboriginal partners and responsiveness to the needs of the Ministry.

From March 26-28 the MNO hosted the first provincial meeting of the OARGP since being selected lead coordinator to discuss Aboriginal gambling related issues.

The OARGP has been in place for a number of years as a place to exchange knowledge and share best practices, resources and tools in regards to responsible gambling. Along with the MNO, the members of this working group consist of eight organisations: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), Independent First Nations (IFN), Kenora Chiefs (KC), Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI), Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres (OFIFC) and the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI).

“We are taking a collective approach to problem gambling prevention. Creating this collaboration with other Aboriginal organizations addressing similar issues and challenges allows us to share information and determine best practices,” said MNO Director of Healing and Wellness Wenda Watteyne. “We look forward to strengthening our partnerships and seeing that the OARGP succeeds.”

This was the first meeting since February 2011 and it proved to be a success. The working group reviewed the mission statement and the objectives of the group and set forward a plan for the future.

The agreed upon mission statement is: “A comprehensive First Nation, Métis and Inuit culture based problem gambling prevention programme that engages partners in developing a collaborative approach to address the risks associated with problem gambling.”

Re-branding initiatives were also discussed. The MNO will take the lead on the re-branding of the group. Focusing on prevention, the re-branding initiative is reflective of the current and changing environment of Ontario gaming regulations and demand.

Over the next fiscal year the MNO will continue bring the working group together in order to develop common communications tools and oversee the program evaluation. The next meeting is scheduled for July 2013.

The MNO is very honoured to have been selected by the Ministry to play the coordinating role and is very pleased with the outcome of this first meeting.