Mad Mom’s mad about Mamisarvik

“The cabinet and the Premier must intervene to save Mamisarvik”


Mad Mom here. What am I so mad about, you ask?

Well, I heard that the Mamisarvik treatment centre, down in Ottawa, which has operated for 12 long years serving Inuit, will have to close its doors March 31, because they cannot secure stable government funding.

I honestly thought I was hearing things! The only Inuit-controlled, Inuit-operated alcohol and trauma treatment centre and the Government of Nunavut’s department of Health doesn’t get behind it 100 per cent.

To new folks: there is a very strange history behind treatment centres. First, we used to have one — right here in Apex. Staff from the Bellwood addictions centre trained Inuit staff here at that time.

What happened, you wonder? A short-sighted civil servant, long gone, managed to mount an argument to shut it down and re-profile the funds towards his favourite, reality therapy.

Instead of the alcohol and drug workers receiving alcohol and drug training, like all the workers in Kitikmeot and Kivalliq through Arctic College, the Baffin workers were steeped in his favourite philosophy. The guru, Mr. Glasser, did not even recognize alcoholism as an illness.

Continuing at the mad hatter’s tea party, this went on for years.

So an improperly trained body of workers received no training on the very subject they were being paid to know about and deliver to the community. Mamisarvik opened through Tungasuvvingat Inuit in Ottawa, committed to assisting their own people in their struggle to deal with the attitudes, emotional pain and behaviours associated with addiction and unresolved trauma.

Workers there are trained and current in their fields of addiction and trauma-informed counseling. So we in our Department of Health can do nothing more than see them have to shut down?

People are screaming for a treatment centre. MLAs mention it in the House. Money is flowing to centres far and wide that have no lasting interest or commitment to Inuit, but who like our northern money.

The GN stands by and watches this one starve for lack of guaranteed funding? Unbelievable!

People who have gone to treatment elsewhere have sometimes come back with horror stories, having been sent to First Nations-run ones, where they have had to endure all their cultural ceremonies and be served by counselors who are poorly trained, yet we have poured money into these places, just to secure a bed and have thereby wasted public money.

For the few excellent ones that do exist, like Bellwood in Toronto, which actually offers an Inuit-specific trauma program, the GN whines about it and says it’s too expensive, despite the raves of those who have attended.

Where does the foolishness end?

The cabinet and the Premier must intervene to save Mamisarvik as well as order the use of Bellwood if we are going to use public funds for addiction and trauma wisely and actually help people.

Mad Mom

Editor’s note: Mamisarvik is one of two Inuit-specific treatment centres in Canada. After Mamisarvik closes, the nine-bed Inuit-specific Isuarsivik treatment centre in Kuujjuaq will continue to operate. They plan to expand to 21 beds after construction of a new Isuarsivik building is completed.

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