April 13, 2017
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Nelligan O’Brien Payne gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Natasha Chettiar, Student-at-Law in writing this blog post.

The Mamisarvik Healing Centre is Ottawa’s only Inuit treatment centre, and provides invaluable counselling and healing services to Ottawa’s Inuit community. Since 2003, the Centre has offered addiction and trauma treatment services, and programming focused on the issues impacting residential school survivors and their families.

Close-up on discussion.

As a participant in the Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support Program, Mamisarvik’s staff is acutely aware of the challenges facing residential school survivors, and aims to provide responsive solutions and services that are emotionally and culturally appropriate for its Inuit clients.

Services

The Centre offers many services, including:

  • Group meetings focusing on trauma, addiction, Inuit history, anger management, assertiveness, and continuing care;
  • Individual and group counselling, tailored to the needs and goals of residential school survivors;
  • Guest speaker sessions, where elders offer traditional healing knowledge;
  • Activities such as art therapy, Inuit crafts, YMCA visits, and meditation;
  • Cultural programming where traditional knowledge is shared, such as sewing with seal and rabbit skin;
  • Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings; and
  • Life skills training, such as cooking, budgeting, and parenting classes, which focus on the merger of traditional and modern parenting techniques and child apprehension avoidance.

Residential treatment program

Mamisarvik also offers an eight-week intensive residential program founded on Inuit values. The program has 15 beds available to Inuit clients and provides addiction and trauma treatment in a culturally sensitive and language-appropriate setting. The Centre is decorated with Inuit art and serves a menu that includes caribou and seal. According to the Centre’s website, the residential program is “high-impact” and offers “personal discovery, which results in an impressive treatment completion rate of about 80 per cent.

Mamisarvik’s commitment to the healing and health of its clients does not end when they graduate from the eight-week program. The Centre’s clients also benefit from a continuing-care program that features relapse prevention, individualized continuing-care plans, regular counselling sessions and weekly continuing-care group meetings.

Since 2003, over 700 people have participated in the Centre’s residential treatment program. When you add the hundreds of people who rely on the Centre’s daily activities and who have gone to the Centre for treatment outside of its residential program, the number of lives changed and saved by the Centre is immeasurable.

Partners

Mamisarvik is partnered with over 60 organizations and government bodies. The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre provides monthly psychiatric services for Mamisarvik’s clients, and the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, and Cancer Care Ontario all deliver programming at the Centre. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse is also an official partner, and four of the Centre’s 15 beds are available to Correctional Service Canada referrals.

Funding

Although the Centre’s work is vital to the community, funding has been a constant challenge. In March 2016, the Centre closed due to a lack of funding. The doors reopened in January 2017, but they will close again at the end of this month.

The Centre’s management is hopeful that government funding will soon come through. At this time, the Mamisarvik Centre is serving only Inuit women over 18 years old, but it hopes to receive sufficient funding to reopen its doors to both Inuit women and men, and offer regular programming by elders and greater psychiatric and mental health resources.

The Centre’s dreams know no bounds. The amount of progressive and compassionate ideas generated by the Centre’s staff on how to heal and grow the Inuit community in Ottawa is astounding. If you would like to support the Mamisarvik Healing Centre’s important work, you can donate here.

Need more information?

If you are seeking treatment, contact Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Intake and Assessment Worker at 613-563-3546, Ext 207, or call their toll free number 1-844-563-3546. You can also email intake at intakemhc@tungasuvvingatinuit.ca.

If you would like to be placed on a treatment waitlist while the Mamisarvik Centre is closed, email info@tungasuvvingatinuit.ca.

To find out more about the Mamisarvik Healing Centre, visit Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s website here and click “Programs”. If you would like to visit the Centre in person, it is located at 1863 Russell Road, Ottawa, Ontario.

To read more from our series on community-based Indigenous organizations, take a look at our previous posts on the Odawa Native Friendship Centre and the Tungasuvvingat Inuit

And to learn more about our Indigenous Law Group, check out our page here.

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2017 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.