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Indigenous women’s shelter project gets federal boost

By Randy Thoms Jul 7, 2023 | 5:15 PM

Staff at Giishkaandago'Ikwe Health Services join Patty Hadju, Minister of Indigenous Services, Marcus Powlowski, MP for Thunder Bay-Rainy River and others after an announcement of $5 million for Wiidookodaadiwin Healing Lodge project, July 6, 2023. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

The federal government is making a $5 million commitment to a new Indigenous women’s shelter planned for Agency 1 land near Fort Frances.

Wiidookodaadiwin Healing Lodge project is an initiative of the Giishkaandago’Ikwe Health Services (Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services).

Chief Executive Officer Kayla Caul-Chartier says the lack of facilities close by was the catalyst.

“The closest shelter to Fort Francis is the Shelter of Hope in Atikokan, which most women have to travel away. That was one of the bigger concerns, the fact that most families have to uproot their lives to go to a shelter. We see a lot of women that are struggling with being victims of domestic abuse and violence and not wanting to leave those situations,” says Caul-Chartier.

Rendering of the future Wiidookodaadiwin Healing Lodge project (CNW Group/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

The new facility will have eight-unit with hopes to expand in the future. Four of the units will be barrier-free. No rent will be charged.

The site will also include a number of on-site supports.

“It’ll offer mental health. The basis will be traditional healing and cultural support services, case management support, and transition from the shelter back to the community and back home,” says Caul-Chartier.

Through the National Housing Co-investment Fund (NHCF), over $3.3 million will support the construction of the shelter, with another $1.8 million provided by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) for start-up costs and ongoing operational support.

Patty Hadju, the federal Minister of Indigenous Services, announced $5 million for the proposed Wiidookodaadiwin Healing Lodge project, July 6, 2023. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hadju says the facility will provide a safe harbour for women and their children and 2SLGBTQIA+ people fleeing domestic violence.

“This is going to provide the opportunity for people fleeing domestic violence, women, children, 2SLGBTQIA+ members, that place of safety, to be able to do that healing that leads to better lives and better potential for their children as well,” says Hadju.

Construction is expected to begin next year.

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