A program is looking to help Inuit in Ontario who are struggling with substance abuse and trauma. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Tungasuvvingat Inuit and Mamisarvik Healing Centre in Ottawa have seen the need for culturally-specific treatment to some of Ontario’s most vulnerable populations. 

Kelly Morrissey is the Clinical Team Lead for the Healing Centre and she says with that increased need, they have managed to pivot all through the pandemic in order to continue offering services. 

“This program is directed toward healing and making positive life changes,” Morrissey said. “It incorporates a holistic, Inuit-specific, and community approach for what wellness looks like. Inuit believe it takes a community to heal, so at Mamisarvik, we celebrate and really use that approach.”

The health centre offers residential treatment to clients 18 years of age and older, and includes 10 beds, a commercial-grade kitchen, multiple meeting spaces and common areas, cultural spaces and a 24-hour support team.

Morrissey adds that providing these services does not come without its obstacles. 

She says it’s important to note that not everyone has access to proper internet. 

“We also have a continuing care counselor who ensures they reach out by phone frequently and through the continuing care program,” she said. “That’s definitely something we’ve increased our presence in, in order to be there for our clients and participants.” 

Because of COVID-19, modifications have been made for the well-being of clients and staff while the program continues. 

All health protocols have been adapted while clients take part  in healing and treatment by addressing troubling thoughts, feelings and behaviours, while exploring Inuit perspectives. 

Morrissey says despite the increased demand, they are still trying to raise awareness about the program’s availability.

“We are still here, we’re still open, and we’re going to walk alongside you in your journey to wellness – whatever that looks like,” Morrissey said. “So, we’re just going to continue to do this important work, we just want everyone to know we are here and we’re still working with our community.” 

The program is free of charge for Inuit in Ontario and the centre is accepting new clients for assessment. 

Anyone who’d like to find out more information can reach out to the healing centre.