December 11, 2018 8:09 pm
Updated: December 11, 2018 9:09 pm

Blood Tribe Youth Ranch rises from ashes: New facility opens almost 5 years after fire

WATCH ABOVE: After it was lost in a 2014 fire, the Blood Tribe Youth Ranch has moved into a new building and is preparing to offer new services to the community. Demi Knight has more.

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It’s been almost five years since the Blood Tribe Youth Ranch in Standoff burned to the ground, taking with it much-needed treatment programs and services.

“When the fire took place, it really devastated the whole community,” said Marcel Weasel Head, a board member for the ranch.

“It not only affected children’s services but the tribe as a whole and all the departments that utilized the facility and services.”

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READ MORE: Blood Tribe Youth Ranch burns to the ground

Although the program was restored in 2016 at the corrections building in Standoff, Dec. 11, 2018 marks the official day of new beginnings for the youth ranch. The program was finally able to restore its independence and move into its own brand new building.

“This is a great feeling because we’re opening the doors and showcasing what we’re all about,” Weasel Head said.

“At the same time too, we want to make sure that we’re providing that support for all of our members that are out there.”

READ MORE: Blood Tribe Youth Wellness Centre opens for clients

The new facility is equipped with 12 private bedrooms, as well as office spaces and a ceremony room.

With updated programs and services, the ranch aims to provide traditional and holistic treatment programs to youth who are experiencing addiction, anger or abandonment issues.

Staff said these services are especially important at this time as the opioid epidemic continues to plague not only the Blood reserve but communities across Canada.

READ MORE: Alberta government providing $12.6M to help with Lethbridge opioid crisis

“We did a lot of program research and looking at quality improvement in our programming,” said Bo Wells, residential services manager.

“We’re really focusing on keeping our youth in our community and bringing our youth back home.”

“It’s an important program to our young people, especially with our population and the crisis that we’re in. It’s another solution we can offer them,” Weasel Head said.

Branded by members of the community as a symbol of hope for the future of Indigenous youth, the newly-renovated ranch is hoping to officially open its doors to those in need within the next few weeks.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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