First Nations organizations calling on Manitoba government to fund addictions treatment centre

First Nations organizations are calling on the provincial government to help get an addictions and treatment centre back on track.

The $20 million northern treatment lodge in northern Manitoba needs money to move beyond the first phase towards completion as it is currently at a standstill.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) along with the Cree Nation Tribal Health (CNTH) and Swampy Cree Tribal Council, are calling on the Manitoba government to fund the centre.

“It’s a well known fact that Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by addictions. The cause of this can be tracked back to the historic trauma, oppression, systematic racism, discrimination inflicted upon indigenous peoples,” said CNTH Assistant Director Frank Turner.

The proposed location of the 50 bed centre is near the former Guy Hill residential school, about 20 kilometres from The Pas.

AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said it feels right to have a healing centre close to a residential school.

“It only seems natural that that investment should be made in the north to support this recovery centre, this addiction centre in the former place of residential school. You know because it is residential school that has allowed a lot of this historical trauma to impact our communities and it only seems natural,” he said.

Turner believes the forested area would provide a natural healing environment for people.

“The northern healing lodge will be a place for healing rooted in traditional First Nations healing approaches to promote balance of body, mind, spirit. Our goal is to provide a variety of holistic treatments such as the seven sacred teachings, spiritual understandings of ceremonies, kinship, land based culture, practices,” he said.

Dumas said the facility will reduce the cost to manage patients that need the type of care the centre could provide.

“If you want to be financially responsible, then let’s make this investment. Let’s make investments on behalf of people, on behalf of Manitobans, on behalf of First Nations so that we can look out for one another and provide them much needed resources.”

Turner added the centre will be inclusive for everyone who might be a patient.

“In this project, you know it’s not a 28 day project, it’s not a 90 day project, it’s going to be until a time that you’re ready to leave. And there’s aftercare from each of the communities after that so it’s a continuation,”

A Manitoba government spokesperson said the province receives many requests to develop or expand mental health and addiction services and a proposal for the lodge has not been submitted.

“A proposal for a northern healing lodge has not been submitted at this time to either department, but both are pleased to review an application once it is received, through the regular process,” Brant Batters said in an emailed statement to APTN News.

Turner however, said a proposal was sent in on Jan. 18, but they are sending a follow up proposal.

That proposal will include the designs of the project as the next phase after community consultations and acquiring the land.

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