Aiming for long term approach to support a thriving community

Marc Maracle,   links Ottawa the City’s, unique role for Indigenous Communities, in the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition’s fight for Inuit services. http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/letters/your-letters-for-friday-march-25-the-federal-budget

Healing Centre gets a little help

Re: The Inuit, the addicted and big-city abandonment, March 13.

The Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition would like to acknowledge the federal government’s commitment to keep Mamisarvik Healing Centre open for another year. We strongly encourage the federal government in the next year to find a long-term and permanent solution to supporting this important service.

Ottawa is a very special and unique city to the Aboriginal community. Not only is it the home of many of the national Aboriginal organizations, it is home to a thriving community of about 30,000 Aboriginal people. It is also the second home to thousands of Inuit who come here to get medical care, to go to school, for work and to establish permanent residency. In fact, Ottawa has consistently been the number one southern home to Inuit in Canada.

At the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition, we recognize that whether Ottawa is a temporary or permanent home for Aboriginal people, everyone needs to have access to services and programs. We also recognize that given Ottawa’s unique place in our country, we sometimes have a unique role to play.

Mamisarvik is the only treatment facility for Inuit in Ottawa, and indeed the only Inuit treatment centre in the country. If you are an Inuit person living with an addiction or trauma, there are no facilities in Canada where you can get specialized treatment services that are in your language or culturally appropriate. There are no facilities in Nunavut, home to most Inuit, not even a detox facility in the capital of Iqaluit.

The Mamisarvik Healing Centre was funded for many years through the now-defunct Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF). Even after the AHF funding was cut, they kept some monies flowing through the Mamisarvik Healing Centre because of the need in the community. In fact, Mamisarvik Healing Centre was one of the very last projects funded through the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. And, as this article points out, the Mamisarvik Healing Centre continued on with very limited funding through a variety of other imaginative sources, until all of these options ran out as well.

The federal government is increasingly committing to breaking down jurisdictional barriers that are barriers to supporting Aboriginal people wherever they are in Canada.  Would it not be better for everybody if we find a way to deal with funding in the long term? The answer for the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition is simple. Let’s find the money today to keep the Mamisarvik Healing Centre open.

We also want to take this opportunity to thank the staff and board of the Mamisarvik Healing Centre for your many years of service to our community in Ottawa. You have saved lives and given people back hope and a reason to go on living.

Marc Wm. Maracle, chair, Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition

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