APTN National News
The Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation (AIWF) is hosting 23 Dene, Inuit and Métis elders from across the Northwest Territories in Yellowknife to discuss how a proposed healing centre should practice and deliver healing.
“My vision is that when you come into the building there should be a little area for inuit people,” said AIWF board member Rassi Nashalik. “Inuit learning with let’s say a Qammaq with a Qulliq everything in it to make it more welcoming with elders sit there. Everything to make it comfortable to enter this building.”
The vision for the centre is to serve the needs of the NWTs 30 First Nations, Inuit and Métis in a distinctly Indigenous way.
AIWF has already made agreements with the City of Yellowknife to dedicate two hectares of land with waterfront access to a wellness centre, with plans of setting a canvas tent by the summer.
But before any of that can take place, input from elders is needed.
“You know elders are really the main people that will be overseeing the project but delivering those services as well too,” said board member Nicole Redvers.
AIWF is currently completing a funding study – but expects the centre to cost upwards of $10 million.
But more important than the price tag is the mandate. The centre would operate independently of government-funded health care in the NWT.
“It has to be accepted by both Inuit, Dene and Métis,” said Nashalik. “It’s their building it has to be attractive, culturally, traditionally and comfortable.”
Over the gathering, there has been an emphasis on how elders can prevent youth suicide and tackle addictions.
“I hope that the centre would have people with knowledge in area of psychology, indigenous psychology traditional forms of healing,” said Dene board member Francois Paulatte. “To work with young people and that we can maybe take this to the communities through mobile talks.”
The centre will also focus on connection with the land, to people and to oneself.
“You could go right from traditional food to medicines and hopefully this centre would have a greenhouse that would have traditional medicine growing all year round,” said Paulatte.
The AIWF is in the process of receiving charity status, after that, the foundation will move forward with design concepts.
There is no date for construction to begin, but board members are hoping for funding that reflects the TRCs reccomendation number 21, which calls for the creation of a healing centre in the NWT.