(PUBLISHER’S NOTE: All the MLA candidates were asked to comment on the best way forward for the sobering centre in Yellowknife. Go here to see the full question and context.)
How are you going to convince the GNWT bureaucracy to admit it doesn’t have the inherent capacity to do the job properly, that the goal should be to ensure Indigenous involvement in healing the trauma and addictions plaguing their population? Would that not be a true act of reconciliation?
It’s easy to blame the “GNWT bureaucracy” for the failures of our systems but much more difficult to take responsibility and come up with solutions.
Two treatment centres were supported by GNWT and then closed (Dettah in 1999 and Hay River in 2013 while my competitor was in Cabinet). We can and should revisit the issue of a treatment centre in the NWT in the next Assembly but we will still need regional and community-based programs and services for follow-up and aftercare.
I took the opportunity to visit both the current sobering centre and more recently, the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Centre healing camp. The model offered at the healing camp is a sound one that is working. However, we also need to make sure that the few dedicated people there don’t get burned out, have the resources to do their important work, and that the model is sustainable and scaled to the needs of people seeking help. There also has to be support for other programs including housing first, integrated case management, a pilot of a managed alcohol program, poverty reduction such as a guaranteed basic income and more. I agree that wherever possible, there should be Indigenous involvement and leadership in these efforts. It’s about working together and providing options and appropriate support.