Tungasuvvingat Inuit seeks clients, workers for Ottawa healing centre

Treatment program continues with new COVID-19 prevention measures in place

After closing for about six months due to COVID-19, Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Mamisarvik Healing Centre has reopened at 25 Rosemount Ave. in Hintonburg. (File photo)

By Jane George

The Ottawa-based healing program for Inuit is back up and running, with some new restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Mamisarvik Healing Centre reopened on Sept. 14 following its temporary closure this past March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, five clients, who had not finished their eight-week treatment cycle when the program was suspended, are back at Mamisarvik.

Chris Stewart, director of healing and wellness, said COVID-19 means Mamirsarvik has been obliged to reduce the number of clients, and the centre must make sure everyone is staying at a safe distance at all times.

“It’s not ideal, but it allowed us to reduce risk to continue this service,” Stewart said.

Wearing masks almost seems counterproductive, he said, because these and other social-distancing changes limit the close physical interactions that usually go hand-in-hand with such a program.

This photo shows the distancing of tables in Mamisarvik’s dining room, one of the healing centre’s COVID-19 prevention measures. (Photo courtesy of TI)

“But the clients are feeling safe in the space and that has still allowed for the special connection to take place with the counsellor,” Stewart said.

TI maintains close links with Ottawa Public Health on all its COVID-19 measures.

As well, clients and staff take a COVID-19 test before coming to Mamisarvik and participate in daily health assessments, Stewart said.

The delivery of the residential program was two weeks into its eight-week program when it ended on March 20.

Every individual in the treatment program was safely placed before the program was paused, TI said in a recent release.

“Within the week, Mamisarvik successfully transitioned to a remote delivery model utilizing the existing online case management software and teleconferencing technology,” said TI’s executive director, Amanda Kilabuk, in a news release.

“As a result, our staff was able to conduct both group and individual counselling sessions, which safely tracked the client’s progress. It was remarkable to witness.”

The aftercare programming has also continued following the shutdown and has allowed former clients to continue to be supported by the Mamisarvik team, TI said.

TI is now accepting applications for the next treatment cycle, which starts at the end of this month, and encourages Inuit in Ontario who are seeking a healing program to apply to Mamisarvik.

“We were in consultations with the Government of Nunavut right in March and unfortunately those were put on hold, but we definitely look forward to continuing the conversation with the Health Department and try to open doors for people in Nunavut who may see Mamisarvik as a good option for them,” Stewart said.

Mamisarvik provides a “professional, confidential, non-judgmental recovery for Inuit men and women that are 18 years of age or older.”

Mamisarvik is also currently recruiting new team members to help provide this program.

For more information on attending the Mamisarvik program, contact 613 792-8132 x226 or email MHCintakes@tiontario.ca

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