The Kii Maa Pii Pii Tsin (Kindness to Others) Renewal and Healing Centre has reached the end of its pilot funding, but is looking to continue supporting addiction recovery among the vulnerable population.
The recovery camp, located on the Blood Tribe not far from Lethbridge, Alta., is run by Alvin Mills and a handful of staff, and uses Blackfoot principles for healing, including a sweat lodge and tipi.
Mills had been supporting the vulnerable population in the area for several years before opening his camp. This summer, participants stayed outdoors in tents.
“The concept behind the recovery camp is you get away from all of the distractions here in the city,” he explained.
The camp opened in August 2022, receiving around $120,000 in funding through a provincial grant distributed by the City of Lethbridge’s Community Social Development department.
According to Mills, the initial funding ran out at the end of September, leaving them looking for other supports. The camp saw more than 40 people access its services, with the last participant leaving in mid-October.
“Now with the winter months closing in, I’ve had individuals express support so trailers could go down at the recovery camp so we could extend it to a winter camp,” Mills said, but added nothing is set in stone just yet.
The money would go toward things like food supplies, propane, and other necessities.
“I will take steps to see what options I have.”
Additionally, Mills has received support in writing from the Blood Tribe Department of Health to assist with referrals and transfers to the Kainai Healing Lodge and Bringing the Spirit Home detox facility.
Over the last couple of months, the Levitee Clinic in downtown Lethbridge has seen a number of the clients from the camp.
“Our ultimate goal is to get them sober with medications supporting their withdrawals and their opioid use disorder,” explained Levitee nurse Whittny Schuurman.
“(Transportation is) a huge problem we face with other people who aren’t at the recovery camp, and having him help them with that would potentially bring more sobriety along the way.”
For now, Mills is continuing to offer a helping hand in Lethbridge by handing out bagged lunches and warm clothes.
With the cold weather inevitably sticking around for the next few months, he encouraged the community to consider doing the same.