Manitoba announces funding for Residential School healing centres

By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – On April 4, 2022 the government of Manitoba announced its investment of $500,000 in funding for 10 Indigenous residential school healing centres across the province in an effort “to support and promote healing, advance reconciliation and build healthier futures for Manitobans.”

The investment also supplements federal funding under the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program — a federal program that provides support services to eligible former residential school students and their families.

The funding will be split up between the following organizations:

– Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre of Winnipeg, Inc.;

– Anish Corporation (Swan Lake First Nation);

– Cree Nation Tribal Health (The Pas);

– Cross Lake Band – Indian Residential School Healing Program;

– Keewatin Tribal Council (Thompson);

– Sagkeeng Indian Residential School Wellness Centre (Pine Falls);

– St. Theresa Point First Nation Healing Centre;

– Southeast Resource Development Council (Winnipeg);

– Wa-Say Healing Centre (Winnipeg); and

– West Region Treaty 2 and 4 Health Services (Dauphin).

Sarah Guillemard, Mental Health and Community Wellness Minister, said of the funding, “Manitoba is acknowledging past harms and responding to intergenerational traumas and needs of residential school survivors for support.”

“We will partner closely with these Indigenous-led organizations to help bring about healing through traditional Indigenous ceremonies, safe mental health approaches and holistic community-based care.”

When questioned whether or not $50,000 was enough for each organization, Guillemard remarked that she doesn’t think there “will ever be enough.”

The money will be used to enhance cultural and emotional supports, such as improved counselling services. Additionally, the provinces expects the organizations to be able to host more community events.

The funding announcement comes after the province released A Pathway to Mental Health and Community Wellness: A Roadmap for Manitoba, in which the the Mental Health and Community Wellness ministry heard from thousands of Manitobans to identify key areas in which the province can prioritize.

The report highlights the need for more culturally sensitive, accessible and integrated Indigenous-led supports for survivors of the residential school era and the generations that followed it.

Alan Lagimodiere, Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister, said, “This investment strengthens Manitoba’s role in advancing reconciliation. It expands culturally holistic healing and trauma support services while strengthening family connections around the shared experiences of Manitobans who attended Indigenous residential schools.”

The new funding for the Indigenous residential school healing centres aligns with the Department of Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations’ mandate to engage with Indigenous communities and organizations and with all Manitobans on a path toward reconciliation, Lagimodiere noted.

Noella Gentes, director of programs at the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre of Winnipeg, said that their organization was already able to hold an event using the new funding.

“With this funding, our survivors, their families and communities are feeling supported through their healing journey, especially during these difficult times.”

“We were able to hold a huge three-day event that hosted an average of 600 survivors and their families per day. I can’t say enough about the support provided and connections made during this event,” concluded Gentes.

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