Nunavut government seeks Inuit, Indigenous-focused addictions treatment programs

Request for proposals says Health Department hopes to create community mental health and addictions teams

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Aluki Kotierk sign a joint declaration of intent in Iqaluit in August 2019 to build an addictions treatment centre. (File photo by Emma Tranter)

By Sarah Rogers

The Government of Nunavut is looking for somebody to provide culturally relevant addictions treatment programs in the territory.

The Department of Health put out a tender in January, seeking recovery treatments “grounded in traditional Inuit or Indigenous cultural practices.”

The department is looking for services that can be specifically targeted to Nunavimmiut youth, mothers and families, according to the request for proposals, which closed Feb. 26.

The Department of Health specified that it’s looking for inpatient or residential services, though the service provider may be able to deliver aftercare to individuals living in remote communities.

The tender does not make specific reference to Nunavut’s plans to create a trauma and addictions treatment facility in Iqaluit.

The government does not currently oversee any in-territory addiction treatment programs, but the territorial government and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. are jointly working on the creation of the Iqaluit-based Nunavut Recovery Centre.

The federal government has already committed $47.5 million to the construction of the centre as well as operating costs once it opens.

Until then, the Nunavut government continues to fund out-of-territory counselling and treatment; the government’s latest budget allotted $10.6 million to renew those services for the year.

To that end, the tender acknowledges that out-of-territory mental health and addictions services “will remain a necessary part of Nunavut’s system of care for some time.”

“It is recognized that it is necessary to continue to use out of territory service arrangements while service capacity within the territory is established,” it states.

“It is the [department’s] plan to develop community mental health and addictions teams. It is anticipated that these local teams will have access to a greater range of specialised clinical resources through telemedicine and visiting specialists, clinics, and day treatment programs.”

The GN hasn’t offered a timeline for the construction of its recovery centre. But Finance Minister George Hickes suggested in his budget address last week that the government is anxious to get started.

“This [facility] will help Nunavummiut recover in-territory, surrounded by friends and family and closer to our traditions, culture and language,” Hickes said Feb. 23. “We are very motivated to move forward with this work to benefit our people.”

A consultant’s report produced for the GN in 2018 described a three-pillared approach to addictions treatment in Nunavut, which included the Iqaluit-based facility, community-based facilities as well as on-the-land treatment, at an estimated cost of $102 million over five years.

The plan would see up to 256 residents treated annually through the centre’s residential treatment programs and services, and up to 80 residents per year treated through on-the-land healing programs offered in each region of Nunavut.

GN RFP for Inuit and Indigenous Support Addictions Treatment Programs by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by CB on

    Definitely needed. Unfortunately too many people in Nunavut suffer from trauma, alcoholism, and violence without support.

  2. Posted by Paradigm Shift on

    I hope there is as much concern for efficacy here as there is for indigeneity. I know there is an almost mystical belief that the latter, by definition, implies the former. But having observed first hand some of this programing I have to say that is very questionable. The long hard and expensive lesson in this is something to be aware of and if possible to just avoided.

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  3. Posted by Volunteer on

    I have often thought it might be a good idea to make drop in visiting centres in the community halls for checkers, board games etc with free coffee or tea and some Inuit food. This would help those that need to get out of their homes. So many unemployed who would benefit by visiting and talking with someone. Have elders available to chat with. Or elders tell stories with each other while young people listen. The community halls sit empty in the day time. Just need a few tables and chairs. If the recreation committee would think and put the community halls to use and get the recreation employee working on a worthwhile project.

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