After starting to offer services earlier this year, a local healing lodge celebrated its grand opening this week.
Wakenugan Youth Healing Lodge provides a 12-week residential program to youth ages 12 to 17 in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) area. Board members, staff and community members were at the Highway 101 West facility to mark its official opening yesterday (Aug. 24).
The lodge has six bedrooms, a kitchen, and rooms for music, crafts, training, culture, meditation and more. The outdoor sweat lounge and teepee are also essential to the land-based program.
Though the first cohort was accepted earlier this year, this is the first time the facility has been opened to the community, said Jason Sereda, treatment service manager.
Since the service started, around 10 youths have graduated from the program.
During the program, the lodge accommodates up to six youths who all have private bedrooms.
The trauma-informed program includes land-based healing methods, traditional and cultural activities like smudging and ceremony, group therapy, anger management, life skills, grief and loss counselling, and relationship building. Youth can also practice and gain language skills.
"Everything the youth need is here. They are welcome to bring a few personal items, but we provide everything they need," Sereda said.
The next male cohort starts later this month and a female cohort is expected to start in November.
Currently, there is no specific cohort for members of 2SLGBTQ+ community and they go with the cohort of their preference. If there is enough interest to make a cohort, the lodge is more than happy to do that, said case manager Rebecca Giouette.
Funded by the Ministry of Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, the Timmins facility has a 75 per cent retention rate.
"We have one case manager, and a continues care facilitator, and their job is to build the relationship with youth while they are here and connect them with the support in their home community," said Sereda.
There is also a waiting list of 30-40 people, said Giouette, who wants more healing lodges.
Local resident Thomas Hutchison, who attended the grand opening, was excited to see the healing lodge sign at the old Tembec site.
"It opens a lot of opportunities for the youth of this community and surrounding community," he said.
Working at Living Space, Hutchison's interested in what services are being offered to the youth.
"So we deal with more the adult population, but a lot of the adults we work with are related to children or know of children that could really make use of these services," Hutchison said.
The facility is also looking for more volunteers
"We are actively recruiting volunteers for book club etc. we want to hear from you," said Sereda.
People interested in volunteering should email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jinsh Rayaroth, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com