Na-Me-Res points out a critical issue on National Indigenous Peoples Day

The non-profit's first major push aims to replace weakness with strength and resilience when discussing homelessness.

Native Men’s Residence (Na-Me-Res) is highlighting a very important issue on National Indigenous People’s Day: homelessness.

A new website and brand video is part of the organization’s first major branding campaign, which will play a key role in raising funds for new affordable housing units and a men’s harm-reduction shelter in Toronto, Ontario’s first Indigenous-led Managed Alcohol Program (MAP).

According to Na-Me-Res insights, Indigenous people are disproportionately affected by precarious housing – 15% of people experiencing homelessness in Toronto are Indigenous, despite making up 0.5% of the city’s population. 

The creative, by agency Groundzero, is positioned around not being broken despite challenges faced by the Indigenous community, referencing pollution, cultural appropriation and residential schools.

The video also highlights individuals who have successfully completed the Na-Me-Res Apaenmowineen program at Sagatay, a transitional dwelling in the city with cultural programs and skills training. The spot’s voiceover comes from Chris Mejaki, a former Na-Me-Res client, who is making his acting debut at Stratford Festival this summer and also appears in the video as a grass dancer.

Na-Me-Res not only helps men get off the streets, but the organization also reconnects them with their culture through “mino bimaadiziwin,” an Anishinaabe approach to holistic health and living a good life, a concept that’s also highlighted on the revamped website.

According to Steve Teekens, executive director at Na-Me-Res, storytelling is an important part of Indigenous culture, and the “Resilience” video captures the story of how this can help Indigenous brothers in need.

Groundzero began working with Na-Me-Res last fall. The agency’s principle, Colin McCallum, tells strategy the campaign’s insights came from men who’d been through the program and is about substituting weakness for resilience, and tapping into strength inherent in individuals.

The goal of the campaign is to reach people with an affinity to Indigenous rights causes that live in the Greater Toronto Area and could become potential donors, McCallum says. But it is also priming the organization for a more formal and sizable fundraising push coming in the fall. For now, there will be a paid social through July and forward, McCallum says, adding that campaign is largely driven by social, with a focus on Facebook and Instagram.

Groundzero enlisted filmmaker David Tennant to produce and direct the video. The narrative was a collaborative effort by Groundzero CD Gary Watson and Jesse Thistle, award-winning Indigenous author of From The Ashes.