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On Friday March 18, the federal government announced its support for the Mamisarvik Healing Centre through a financial commitment of $1.3 million. In February, the Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI), which contributes finds to the centre, announced the centre had been set to suspend its services at the end of March due to funding limitations.
"The Mamisarvik Healing Centre provides important services to Inuit in the Ottawa region, and I am pleased that they will be able to continue to do so," said Health Minister Jane Philpott in a statement. "The inequalities in mental health support for First Nations and Inuit across the country is unacceptable and a priority that we need to respond to."
TI, a non-profit that seeks to empower Inuit by providing Inuit-specific programs and support services, opened the Healing Centre in 2003 with funding from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF). However, when the AHF close in 2013, TI tried to support the Healing Centre on its own and in February, announced that it needed to close its doors indefinitely.
The federal government's involvement is a positive step towards following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations, particularly as it directly addresses recommendation 21 which calls upon the "government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools."
"Being able to access culturally relevant treatment programs in Canada is critical to the healing and well-being of Indigenous Peoples," said Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett. "Mamisarvik Healing Centre has been providing important services for Inuit in both Ottawa and from Arctic communities, and as part of our commitment to reconciliation this funding aims to ensure that needed support for healing will continue to be available."
Even so, the Mamisarvik Healing Centre will close temporarily to restructure its current operational model to be more sustainable in the long term. It is expected to reopen this summer.
"With this funding announcement of a one-year commitment, TI is now able to work quickly to formulate a sustainable plan to reconstitute the operational structure of Mamisarvik, said TI Board President, Malaya Rheaume. "We are grateful for this timely investment which will minimize the impact on our clients."
Alyse Kotyk is a Vancouver-based writer and editor with a passion for social justice and storytelling. She studied English Literature and Global Development at Queen's University and is excited by media that digs deep, asks questions and shares narratives. Alyse was the Editor of Servants Quarters and has written for the Queen's News Centre, Quietly Media and the Vancouver Observer. She is now rabble's News Intern.
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