Detox centre opens doors

Nicholas Donaldson

The Mino Ayaa Ta Win Healing Centre, the new mental health and addictions wellness centre run by the Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services, is now ready to serve the community.
A large crowd gathered Friday to celebrate the grand opening of the newly-renovated building, which is located on Mishkiki Miikan Road (the old Ivik building) along Highway 11 about 10 minutes east of Fort Frances.
The ceremony began with a traditional opening with the agency drum, “Aazhwe Giizhic,” and prayers by elders Gilbert Smith and Joyce Mainville.
FFTAHS board president Deb Whetzel welcomed everyone, followed by an address from Treaty #3 Ogichetaa (Grand Chief) Francis Kavanaugh.
Also on hand were dignitaries from partner organizations, including Susan Pilatzke (North West Local Health Integration Network), Melissa Preece (Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care), Julie Hodson (Aboriginal Healing and Wellness with the Ministry of Community and Social Services), and Lee Cranton (First Nations and Inuit Health Branch).
A ceremonial ribbon-cutting then took place, after which guests were given guided tours of the facility and offered a light lunch.
The aim of Mino Ayaa Ta Win (Helping Ourselves Heal) is to provide holistic support and healing that includes mental health counselling, along with cultural and community support services.
It will serve the area’s 10 First Nations, as well as the surrounding region.
The process leading to the opening began in July, 2016 when Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Ministry of Community and Social Services, and the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.
The proposal was approved this past July and funding commitments were received to
operate the new program.
Renovations then were made to the building to facilitate the program and referrals began in mid-November, with intakes starting this past Monday (Dec. 4).
The building houses eight beds available for its 28-day residential treatment program and two beds for detoxification, as well as offices, a boardroom, a kitchen, dining room, and lounge.
“Today’s turnout of more than 160 people to celebrate the grand opening of Mino Ayaa Ta Win Healing Centre was momentous,” Lori Flinders, director of Behavioral Health, told the Times following the ceremony.
“We celebrated the partnerships with governments to bring the resources needed to have a healing facility in our region,” she noted.
“We also acknowledged Rainy River First Nations for working with us so diligently in ensuring we had a top-notch facility that was conducive to the work that needs to be done to help people heal from their addictions,” Flinders added.
FFTAHS director Calvin Morrisseau said the opening of such a facility was “long overdue.”
“Today marks a historical event, an event that brought together three government partners along with a tribal organization to ensure access to a residential treatment program that incorporates who we are as Anishinaabe peoples with innovative health-care services in mental health and addictions,” he told the Times in an e-mail.
“It would not have been possible without the dedication of our board, staff, and all those who suffer at the hands of addiction,” he stressed.
Now with a facility like Mino Ayaa Ta Win as a part of the continuum of care in the area, Morrisseau said “we can bravely move forward to a time when most of our people and all people will die of natural causes, which is how it was originally intended.”
“Together with our board of directors, advisory committee, and elders, we at FFTAHS wish to acknowledge all the individuals that helped bring this dream for a treatment facility in our region to reality,” he added.