Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres will be expanding its reach from northern Alberta into Saskatchewan.
In December, the Saskatchewan government and Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced that after a competition process, Poundmaker's Lodge had been selected to provide withdrawal management and inpatient addiction treatment spaces for adults in the recently closed Drumming Hill Youth Centre facility in North Battleford.
“We've had 50 years of proven success in helping people in recovery through Western medicines of rehabilitation and treatment, along with our spiritual aspect of it through traditional and culturally appropriate teachings and ways of healing,” said Carla Jamison, community engagement officer with Poundmaker's Lodge Treatment Centres.
Services from Drumming Hill Youth Centre were transitioned to youth in custody facilities in Prince Albert and Regina in late 2022.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health and SHA issued a request for proposals in June 2023 to find an operator for addiction treatment services in order to repurpose the Drumming Hill facility.
“I think it's just serendipitous. (The call) came at the right time for us to apply,” said Jamison. “It's almost like it was time for us to move into the next level. Being able to treat more than just the people in Alberta, but expanding, that makes sense.”
Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres, located on the former Edmonton Indian residential school site on the outskirts of St. Albert, currently runs three distinct programs. There are two residential treatment programs, a 42-day program for adults 18 years or older, and a 90-day program for those between 18 and 24 years of age. A third program is geared toward women and provides addictions aftercare in the Iskwew Healing Lodge, located on the same grounds.
Poundmaker’s Lodge recently began operating a men’s recovery house in Slave Lake. The grand opening and round dance are scheduled for Jan. 20 at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre.
All programs are open to Indigenous and non-Indigenous clientele.
Now work will get underway to renovate the Drumming Hill facility in order to provide 14 spaces.
“We're working with the government of Saskatchewan to make sure that the renovations fit our needs,” said Jamison.
Again, treatment will be available for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous clientele.
“It will be for anybody who's struggling with addiction, who wants to recover…who is looking for more than just a typical rehabilitation centre or a typical treatment centre,” said Jamison.
As for staffing, Poundmaker’s Lodge will host work fairs at the end of January in both Saskatoon and North Battleford. A minimum of 12 staff is to be hired at this point, including reception, intake workers and counsellors. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are invited to apply.
Jamison doesn’t anticipate any difficulty in filling those positions.
The facility is still on track to open in April as scheduled, she says.
Jamison notes that Saskatchewan has other addiction treatment services offered by Indigenous operators and Poundmaker’s Lodge “hopes that we are able to complement each other.”
At this point, she adds, Poundmaker’s Lodge has no immediate plans to expand further. Focus will be on delivering treatment programs in the two Alberta recovery homes and opening up the new centre in North Battleford.
As Poundmaker’s Lodge celebrates 50 years in 2024, Jamison says it hasn’t been a history free of challenges.
“As you continue to grow, there's always going to be growing pains. And I think that's with any company or program or group that is created to help the public. You're going to run into those growing pains, but that's where we learn and we strengthen ourselves and I believe through those learning curves we've become stronger year-to-year,” she said.
In a statement in June when the Saskatchewan government issued the request for proposals for the space, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Everett Hindley said, "Repurposing the Drumming Hill facility will improve access to addiction treatment services for residents in the Battlefords area and across Saskatchewan.”
Saskatchewan Health currently funds 553 pre-treatment, withdrawal management, intensive outpatient, inpatient treatment and post-treatment spaces across the province operated by the Saskatchewan Health Authority and third parties.
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