March 25, 2022
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. to Lead Implementation: Goertzen
The Manitoba government is providing $2 million in funding to Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. to lead the implementation and operation of a youth healing lodge in Thompson, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.
“As youth justice continues to change in Canada, there is a need for programs that provide broader community support,” said Goertzen. “The Thompson healing lodge is a first in Manitoba and will help ensure that supports are closer to home and community connected. Manitoba is honoured to partner with MKO in this initiative.”
The youth community healing lodge is intended to provide more justice resources in the north, reduce youth recidivism rates and decrease the use of Thompson’s RCMP cells for non-violent youth detained under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act (IPDA), noted the minister.
The first phase of the youth community healing lodge will provide open-custody correctional services closer to home for northern youth. Phases two and three will see an expansion to include a healing lodge, enhanced mental health and addiction supports, employment and skills training, and community justice resources.
In phase one, the partnership will focus on the creation of community-based transitional resources for youth with the creation of open-custody beds in northern Manitoba to provide youth a supported and safe way to transition back to the community while connecting to their culture and traditional healing practices, noted Goertzen.
The youth community healing lodge will provide an opportunity to appropriately source youth IPDA beds, add transitional housing options for at-risk youth and, in the later phases, provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for youth to get support if they are struggling with addictions, mental health or housing issues. The healing lodge will also serve as a place of support for youth at risk of involvement with the criminal justice system where community justice workers and probation services can connect with youth.
“Providing safe and accessible healing spaces for Indigenous youth that incorporate traditional teachings and practices will help empower and support youth in making healthy changes for their futures,” said Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere.
“For many years, First Nations leaders have advocated for realistic and immediate strategies to address the overrepresentation of First Nation people involved with the justice system,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee, MKO. “MKO and the Province of Manitoba are working together to transform the justice system in northern Manitoba. Our leaders have long recognized the need for a facility in northern Manitoba to support First Nations youth. This healing lodge will allow MKO youth to remain within their traditional lands and will provide the opportunity for interventions and resources led by First Nations. Our youth need access to programs and resources that promote healing from the intergenerational impacts of the residential school system, the day school system, the Sixties Scoop and the child welfare system. These systems continue to have lasting impacts of First Nations and generations of families. I am pleased we are working with the province to develop a healing lodge for youth in Thompson.”
Goertzen noted Manitoba Justice is honoured by MKO’s ongoing support and guidance in the modernization of the justice system, and this announcement highlights the fruits of the growing relationship and the guidance of the MKO team in aiding the province’s efforts at reconciliation.
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