The Art of Healing: CAMH and TSO Partner to Launch Program for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Patients

Yo-Yo Ma joins Jeremy Dutcher to celebrate partnership in Toronto

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) have come together to form a multi-year partnership and launch Art of Healing—a new program that supports First Nations, Inuit, and Métis patients at CAMH through storytelling and musical composition.

“CAMH is honoured to partner with the TSO to enrich the experience of First Nations, Inuit and Métis patients at CAMH,” said Sarah Downey, President and Chief Executive Officer, CAMH. “Through music we can create meaningful connections between people and their stories, to help pave the path to recovery. This partnership advances CAMH’s commitment to providing culturally appropriate programs to Indigenous patients, and we are thrilled to be sharing this journey with the TSO.” 

The partnership also serves to broaden the community-engagement efforts of the TSO in the midst of its extended Centennial Celebration.

“For 100 years, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has sought opportunities to join forces with other organizations in the city to support the health and well-being of our diverse communities through music,” said Mark Williams, Chief Executive Officer, TSO. “This exciting new collaboration with Canada’s largest mental-health teaching hospital reaffirms that commitment, and we are thankful to CAMH for uniting with us. It is our privilege to be able to serve First Nations, Inuit, and Métis patients by going beyond the concert hall to bring the healing power of music to them. This is the kind of thoughtful engagement that sustains us as we continue to find new ways to share music with the city we are proud to call home.” 

Under the guidance of CAMH’s Shkaabe Makwa and Gifts of Light, Art of Healing will create a culturally safe space to support CAMH patients’ mental wellness and reflects Shkaabe Makwa’s commitment to innovative approaches to healing that harmonize traditional knowledge and medical expertise.

“I’m so pleased that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis patients will have access to such a special and unique program that is also culturally relevant and celebrates Indigenous-specific world views,” said Renee Linklater, Senior Director, Shkaabe Makwa, CAMH. “We’re looking forward to welcoming the expert music and storytelling experience to our patients at CAMH through this partnership with the TSO.”

Through the program, Métis composer Ian Cusson and members of the TSO will work with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis CAMH patients to support their healing through musical storytelling and composition, co-creating an original piece of music that will be premièred by the TSO in their 2023/24 season and conducted by Gustavo Gimeno.

To celebrate this landmark reconciliatory announcement, CAMH and the TSO partnered with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Polaris Music Prize winner from Tobique First Nation Jeremy Dutcher to organize a series of cultural activities in the city. Together, the two created a community space for conversations about the healing power of music through storytelling, music, and language, along with performances by members of the TSO, Jeremy Dutcher, Yo-Yo Ma, Rebecca Cuddy, and Sarah Prosper

“I’ve remarked before that Toronto is almost like a second home,” said Yo-Yo Ma. “It is a city of memories and connections around every corner, from Roy Thomson Hall to Massey Hall to the wonderful Music Garden. What a joy to be back here and to celebrate this partnership. And it is an honour—and fitting—to be with my friend Jeremy Dutcher. His ability to sing songs of nature and human nature, to share meaning and understanding that stretches far across the generations, is a model for us all.”

The Art of Healing program joins the TSO’s existing slate of community-access and wellness initiatives intended to reach more age groups, people with different abilities, and more diverse communities in Toronto. Launched in 2019, Relaxed Performances are designed to be more welcoming for neurodiverse patrons, including those on the autism spectrum, and those with sensory and communication disorders, ADHD, and dementia. TSOUND Connections uses music and technology to connect TSO musicians with seniors in care to reduce social isolation and support well-being. And, in partnership with the Toronto Public Library, Symphony Storytime expands access for families and children to literacy and music education by featuring TSO musicians performing live alongside the reading of a children’s story.

CAMH and the TSO will launch a pilot of the Art of Healing program in winter 2023. 

About the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world-leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit or follow @CAMHnews on Twitter.

About Shkaabe Makwa

Shkaabe Makwa at CAMH is the first hospital-based centre in Canada designed to drive culturally-responsive systems initiatives to achieve health justice and wellness for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities through the advancement of research, workforce development and innovative healing models that harmonize traditional knowledge and medical expertise.

About CAMH Gifts of Light

Gifts of Light is a 100% donation-funded program that works with patients, families, and front line clinical staff to identify the patient wellness gaps in our system and support areas that do not receive ministry funding – with the goal of improving the patient experience.


About the TSO

One of Canada’s most respected arts organizations, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) is celebrating its Centennial in 2022/23, and has played a vital role in the city’s dynamic cultural life for 100 years. Music Director Gustavo Gimeno brings an expansive artistic vision, intellectual curiosity, and sense of adventure to programming the 93-musician Orchestra. The TSO is committed to serving local and national communities through vibrant performances, extensive educational activities, and impactful community relationships. It has a notable recording and broadcast history and has been celebrated internationally during its many tours. The TSO remains synonymous with musical versatility and growth, and artistic distinction.


The TSO relies on the generosity of thousands of donors and partners who provide a critical base of funding that makes possible all of the TSO’s music-making on stage and in the community, including partnerships like the Art of Healing


The TSO acknowledges Mary Beck as the Musicians’ Patron in perpetuity for her generous and longstanding support.


The TSO is grateful for the support of the Toronto Symphony Foundation and all levels of government, including the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario.


TSOUND Connections is generously supported by the George C. Hunt Family Foundation.



Media Contact

For media requests please contact:


Tat Read, Senior Director, Communications

Toronto Symphony Orchestra



Reporting on Mental Illness and Addictions Toolkit

Hayley Clark, Manager, Media Strategy

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) ​ 





About Toronto Symphony Orchestra

For over a century, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has played a fundamental role in shaping and celebrating Canadian culture. Now in our 101st year, the TSO’s commitment to musical excellence and ability to spark connection remain as strong as ever. With a storied history of acclaimed concerts and recordings, Canadian and international tours, and impactful community partnerships, we are dedicated to engaging and enriching local and national communities through vibrant musical experiences. Music Director Gustavo Gimeno brings an expansive artistic vision, intellectual curiosity, and sense of adventure to programming the nearly 100-musician orchestra that serves Toronto—one of the world’s most diverse cities. As a group of artists, teachers, and advocates who share the belief that music has the power to heal, inspire, and connect people from all walks of life, we engage audiences young and old through an array of education, community access and health and wellness initiatives. The 2023/24 season marks the 50th anniversary of the TSO-affiliated Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra—a tuition-free training program dedicated to cultivating the next generation of Canadian artists. Join us for a concert at Roy Thomson Hall, or experience the TSO in your neighbourhood. Visit TSO.CA or


500-145 Wellington St. W. Toronto, ON M5J 1H8