Giishkaandago’Ikwe Health Services receives $5M in funding for healing lodge


On Thursday, July 6, members of Parliament Patty Hajdu and Marcus Powlowski announced a combined investment of over $5 million for the construction and ongoing operational support for a new Indigenous shelter in Fort Frances.
The Wiidookodaadiwin Healing Lodge, run by Giishkaandago’Ikwe Health Services, will be located on Couchiching First Nation at the edge of Rainy Lake.

“Every home that we help build is built not only of bricks and mortar, it is built with hope for a better future,” said minister Hajdu. “The Wiidookodaadiwin Healing Lodge project will be located directly across from the previous St. Margaret’s Indian Residential School — a site of tragedy and pain for many people. I hope the lodge will give people a path for healing that eases their pain and offers a new path forward.”

Rendering of the future Wiidookodaadiwin Healing Lodge project (CNW Group/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

“No relationship is more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples,” said Ahmed Hussen, minister of housing and diversity and inclusion. “Investing in projects like the Wiidookodadowin Healing Lodge project is a crucial step in addressing the urgent need for safe and culturally appropriate housing for Indigenous women, children, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people fleeing violence.”

The healing lodge is aiming to provide a safe shelter through eight individual units for Indigenous women, children, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals fleeing domestic violence, four of which are designed as barrier-free suites featuring fully accessible bathrooms and kitchen cabinetry.

The common areas of the community safe house will also be made barrier-free. Additionally, the project will offer full-time on-site support for individuals fleeing domestic violence, and no rent will be charged.

“The investment received will without a doubt bridge a gap in services for the communities in southern Treaty 3, who currently have to go out of the area to have access to this type of service and change the life of many who experience intimate and family violence,” said Kayla Caul-Chartier, Giishkaandago’Ikwe Health Services CEO.

“The peace of mind that comes with having a secure and stable shelter is invaluable,” said Powlowski.
The federal government, through the National Housing Co-investment Fund (NHCF) is investing over $3.3 million to support construction of the shelter, and over $1.8 million is provided by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) for initial costs and ongoing operational support.
This project was selected as one of the 22 projects receiving a total of $103 million to build and support new emergency shelters and transitional homes across Canada for at least 21 communities.
These projects will be Indigenous-led and will offer access to support programming to help survivors of family and gender-based violence access culturally appropriate services to recover from the trauma of their experiences.
Construction of this project is expected to end by March 31, 2025.