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Yorkton Tribal Council opening first detox centre in Kahkewistahaw First Nation

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Kahkewistahaw First Nation will be the first Indigenous community in the province to have its own detoxification centre. The centre is taking a new approach towards addictions treatment by offering a timeless support system to people overcoming crystal meth addictions.

"On the onset we’ll have an intake, but the discharge is not based on 30 days, it's based on each person’s individuals needs,” Ivan Cote told CTV News.

Cote serves as the director of health and social development for the Yorkton Tribal Council (YTC).

The YTC Community Detox Centre will be based in Kahkewistahaw’s former health building. It will provide 10-beds for clients, also referred to as “relative support workers,” and will employ about 12 to 15 Indigenous workers.

After hearing concerns from people in the community, Cote said opening a detox centre focused on crystal meth addiction was a top priority for serving Indigenous people.

“There’s a large opioid crisis in our communities, our member nations, and other First Nations,” said Cote.

“We see a gap in crystal meth services specifically, because the waiting list is so long (in other centres), we want to focus specifically on programs that are user friendly and adaptable to our First Nations people.”

YTC’s Mental Health Accreditation Coordinator Melanie Knutson added that having the centre on a reserve, will make the transition from withdrawal to a normal life easier for people.

"People can get sober and clean in their own home reserves, and their own home communities,” she expressed.

“They'll also know how to live a sober life amongst the environment that they come from."

The new treatment centre is part of YTC’s larger treatment program which will eventually include four different treatment services; outpatient services, detoxification, inpatient services, and long-term services.

“What we're working towards is, we want to have a detox centre, we want to have a treatment centre, and we also want to have an after care stabilization home,” Knutson explained.

“We're working on one for the north, one for the southern community and then eventually we want to have one in every community because we want it to be centrally based.”

Interim manager Sharon Brabant explained that the centre will help First Nations people work towards their own personal healing journeys.

"Addictions are a symptom of a larger issue, they're a symptom of undealt with compounded intergenerational trauma,” Brabant said.

“What our programming at the facility will do is it will allow the relatives to strip away those layers of trauma, and give them the coping skills and necessary life skills to be able to move themselves forward on their healing journey, rather than be stuck in their addictive lifestyles.”

Kahkewistahaw’s chief added that it will help people take back control of their lives.

“Health is directly related to wealth and the First Nations people of Canada are the poorest people, in turn we’re the unhealthiest people,” Chief Evan Taypotat explained.

“We don’t wake up and just say I want to be unhealthy, I want to die as a second class citizen in a first world country, we don’t do that, so we want to make sure these people feel loved, people that enter the detox centre feel a purpose in life and have healthy long lives just like every other Canadian in Saskatchewan and every other Canadian in Canada.”

With plans to open the centre by the end of April, YTC held a job fair in Kahkewistahaw, Ocean Man and Zagime Anishinabek to recruit potential workers.

"For us providing this detox centre will help Indigenous people,” Taypotat added.

“There's going to be 10 beds in the detox centre, if we can fix 10 people at a time you know we're adding to Saskatchewan in a good way, we're adding to Canada in a good way, but more importantly we're fixing Indigenous people of the residential school effect."

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