The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and other Indigenous organizations in the province have released what they say is an “urgent call” to the province to fund an addictions treatment and recovery centre in northern Manitoba.
Work on the Northern Healing Lodge, planned for a site near The Pas, was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMC said in a release Wednesday, and the project needs to move beyond its first phase.
Frank Turner, director of Cree Nation Tribal Health (CNTH), called the need for the 50-bed facility a “life and death situation.”
“This centre has been long overdue and currently sits at a halt. Our Nations are suffering. We are
seeing young people with great potential die. We are seeing adults living lives of despair and
hopelessness, despite the resilience that lives within all of us,” he said.
“I am tired of going to wakes. We need the province to step up right now. It is well documented that First Nations citizens are disproportionately impacted by addictions. Alcohol and drugs were introduced to First Nations persons after the coming of the settlers to Canada. As such, the tolerance for alcohol and substance is lower than that of many other Canadians.”
AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said his organization is fully in support of getting the project funded and for work to continue.
“Now is not the time to sit idly by while First Nations citizens require the most support,” said Dumas.
“Everyone understands that COVID-19 has made things challenging, but that is just the point. The Northern Healing Lodge is needed right now more than ever to ensure that northern citizens have a place to seek help. Our Nations are disproportionality affected and yet are left without a place to attend when they seek help. ”