Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic March 18, 2016 - 12:20 pm

Inuit treatment centre gets one-year funding injection from Ottawa

Ottawa's Mamisarvik centre can now stay open until at least 2017

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
A resident at the Mamisarvik Healing Centre in Ottawa reads a hand-out on forgiveness during a morning group therapy session in December 2013. Mamisarvik, one of two Inuit specific treatment centres in Canada, was set to close its doors at month-end due to money shortfalls but received a one-year reprieve March 18 from the federal government. (PHOTO BY LISA GREGOIRE)
A resident at the Mamisarvik Healing Centre in Ottawa reads a hand-out on forgiveness during a morning group therapy session in December 2013. Mamisarvik, one of two Inuit specific treatment centres in Canada, was set to close its doors at month-end due to money shortfalls but received a one-year reprieve March 18 from the federal government. (PHOTO BY LISA GREGOIRE)

(Updated 12:20 p.m.)

The Mamisarvik Healing Centre in Ottawa will not close at the end of this month as planned, thanks to a stop-gap measure from the federal government.

A joint March 18 news release from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and Health Canada says the federal government will commit $1.3 million to support the Inuit-specific residential treatment centre in Ottawa.

“Being able to access culturally-relevant treatment programs in Canada is critical to the healing and well-being of Indigenous Peoples,” said INAC Minister Carolyn Bennett, in the news release.

“Mamisarvik Healing Centre has been providing important services for Inuit in both Ottawa and from Arctic communities, and as part of our commitment to reconciliation, this funding aims to ensure that needed support for healing will continue to be available.”

For 12 months, at least.

The money amounts to one year of funding to keep the treatment centre open through to 2017.

The financial life preserver comes less than two weeks before Tungasuvvingat Inuit, the organization which runs the centre, was set to shut it down.

Jason LeBlanc, TI’s executive director, is out of town today but he issued a statement on behalf of the organization March 18.

“While this morning’s announcement is significant, our current operational model of providing these services is unsustainable. We will continue our plans to pause operations at [the centre] as of March 31st, to allow us time to reconstitute our operational model for the program.”

He said in the coming weeks, TI would work with the federal government and other partners to develop a long-term plan for the facility.

Mamisarvik is expected to open in summer 2016 and resume treatment programs at that time, LeBlanc said.

The Government of Nunavut is shut down today in Iqaluit because of a blizzard but Health Minister Monica Ell-Kanayuk managed to weigh in through GN communications staff March 18.

“We are pleased with the announcement and have been engaged in discussions with Health Canada on the issue,” the minister said, in an emailed statement.

“We continue to support the work of Mamisarvik and see the centre as a unique and vital treatment facility that Nunavummiut can access. The long term goal is to provide culturally relevant services at home.”

Mamisarvik is a 12-bed facility that offers Inuit specific trauma recovery and addictions treatment, one of only two such centres in Canada. It has been open since 2003.

The bulk of its funding used to come from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, but that funding source dried up in 2013.

The centre has struggled since then to cobble together enough money to stay afloat, reorganizing how it delivers programs and actively seeking core funding sources.

LeBlanc said this past February that despite creative efforts, TI just couldn’t make Mamisarvik work.

“A residential treatment centre is not financially sustainable exclusively on a pay-as-you-go model,” LeBlanc said in February.

“We are in need of ongoing operational funding as most other treatment centres receive from one level of government or another.”

Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Tom Sammurtok raised the financial plight of Mamisarvik in Nunavut’s legislature March 9, asking the premier about what the Nunavut government can do to help keep the centre open.

Premier Peter Taptuna provided no specifics, but did say the GN was working with “colleagues in Ottawa,” to come up with “a viable treatment facility” for all of Nunavummiut.

“We want to ensure that we have viable alternatives when it comes to funding the organization,” Taptuna told Sammurtok March 9.

“We do have to have agreements with our federal partners, including the management of Mamisarvik organization, and we intend to look at this and discuss and see how we can move forward.”

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share