After being underserviced for decades, district residents finally will be able to receive culturally-appropriate treatment and medically-supervised detox services closer to home thanks to a new partnership between Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services and the provincial and federal governments.
Called “Mino Ayaa Ta Win” (Helping Ourselves Heal), the program will serve people in the 10 surrounding First Nations’ communities by this fall.
FFTAHS executive director Calvin Morrisseau said the program is a long time coming.
“We have been working on this particular initiative for three years, yet historically I remember sitting with a group of concerned citizens who wanted what we have today,” he told the Times.
“That would have been around 1978/79.
“So it has been a need for decades, and the day has finally arrived where we can assist our own people closer to home,” added Morrisseau.
“I believe the program will benefit many people from all walks of life, including families,” he said.
“With the increase and complexity of addiction issues, the program will likely fill a needed gap.”
The program will “benefit all of our 10 First Nations, relieve some stress on emergency services at our local hospital, and give people an option in their care,” Morrisseau said.
Rainy River District has been underserviced for decades, he stressed, and “only now has the province began to recognize this inequity following many discussions with higher-level health people.”
In the past, people have had to leave the district to attend a facility that offered withdrawal management services as well as residential treatment.
While FFTAHS has provided outpatient treatment here, Morrisseau said “the demands and complexity of the addiction made it difficult–if not impossible–for success among some of our clients.”
Having a dedicated treatment facility here will help change that.
The renovated facility will be the old Ivik building east of Fort Frances, just before Reef Point Road.
“We would like to thank Rainy River First Nation for purchasing the building and offering us a long-term lease,” Morrisseau said.
“The facility is currently being renovated and a roundhouse to do the actual treatment is being built as part of the renovations.
“We are expecting to be offering full-time residential treatment and withdrawal management services as early as September and as late as October,” he noted.
The “Mino Ayaa Ta Win” program will be delivered at the facility, where FFTAHS will provide:
•holistic adult mental health counselling, substance use disorder services and treatment, and cultural and community support services;
•on-site mental health and addictions counsellors who will monitor, supervise, and counsel up to 195 people per year; and
•10 treatment beds serving up to 16 people per month.
Everyone is eligible for services, noted Morrisseau, although FFTAHS does target the area 10 First Nations as its client base.
“We will not turn anyone who needs help away,” he vowed.
To begin the process, all that needs to be done is to call FFTAHS at (807) 274-2042 and ask to speak to their intake worker.
They, in turn, will help the client through the process.
The announcement was made Monday as part of the province’s initiative, “The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.”
The province is investing in Indigenous Mental Health and Addictions Treatment and Healing Centres by working with indigenous partners to support culturally-appropriate health care and wellness in indigenous communities.
It said improving access to health services through Mino Ayaa Ta Win is “one of many steps on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with indigenous peoples.”
It also “reflects the government’s commitment to work with indigenous partners, creating a better future for everyone in the province.”