The territorial government has agreed to provide funding to put together a plan for alternative uses for the closed Nats’ejee K’eh Treatment Centre on the Hay River Reserve.
The funding was discussed on March 21 when Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy visited the reserve to meet with the chief and council of K’atlodeeche First Nation.
“We talked about the treatment centre,” said Peter Groenen, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the First Nation. “We had asked for some funding to put together a plan to use that treatment centre as a wellness development centre. He’s agreed to give us $25,000 to do that plan.”
Groenen said there was also agreement to let the First Nation have access to the facility to run programs there while the GNWT will continue to own the building and pay for its operation and maintenance expenses.
The CEO said the band is looking at the facility for wellness and development programs, and training.
“But it will not be a treatment centre,” he said. “It will be a wellness centre.”
Groenen said that could include such activities as on-the-land programs for wellness and for healing.
“Once they receive the plan and accept it, then it will probably move fairly quickly,” he said of when programs might start at the facility. “So I would say in the summer sometime.”
Groenen said work on the plan will probably start in April and will be submitted to the Department of Health and Social Services.
“We actually have received some funding from the National Indian Brotherhood to fund a TRC healing workshop as well, and that one will run in the fall,” he said, referring to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for residential schools. “That will probably be held at the new wellness centre that we’re developing out there.”
Groenen said the plan will look at what kinds of programs and funding are available.
“We’re pretty excited about this opportunity,” he said. “I mean everything takes time but we really kind of envision it being like a development centre as well where we can deliver programs. Wellness is a very broad term, whether it’s education programs, university extension programs, art retreats. Those kinds of things would all be things that we could put on the table there.”
When asked if there are any plans for the facility to eventually return to being an addictions treatment centre, Groenen replied, “It’s not on the table anywhere right now.”
The Hub unsuccessfully attempted last week to obtain a comment from Abernethy on his meeting with the KFN chief and council.
The Nats’ejee K’eh Treatment Centre was closed by the GNWT in September 2013.