A Yellowknife healing program created to help deal with the legacy of residential schools is closing its doors this week, possibly for the last time.

A program called Embracing Our Human Nest has been running out of The Healing Drum in Yellowknife for a while now, courtesy of some federal government funding.

But on Friday, the four-week program will come to an end because Ottawa announced the Aboriginal Healing Foundation funding that was bankrolling the program would not be renewed.

User support

"It makes me sad," says Dawn Mangelana, who's been using the service."There's a huge waiting list here at the Healing Drum society. Those people who are reaching out for help will not be fortunate enough to receive what I have through this program."

More than 200 people are waiting to get into the program. It's scheduled to run for two more cycles, but only for inmates in Yellowknife and Hay River jails.

Once that's done, Ottawa says the plan is to offer one-on-one therapy sessions, provided through Health Canada.

But the head of the Healing Drum says that's not the best approach.

"For the most part with residential schools we are dealing with people who have been abused by people of power and trust," Joe Pintarics says, "so now the model Health Canada is offering is saying, 'Go back to people in trust, [to] people in power, and trust that doesn't happen again.'"

Community focus

Pintarics says that could cause re-traumatization because people in a group setting are also comforted by others who have the same feeling and experiences.

There are other concerns about one-on-one counselling, he notes.

"People that are vulnerable come to Yellowknife, all they do is see a therapist for three hours that week," Pintarics says. "The rest of the time is dead time and often they end up in the back lanes in that dead time, and get lost."

Community-driven healing is often the most effective, Pintarics says, which is why he is trying to get more funding from Health Canada to keep the program alive.