New centre bringing First Nation traditions to healing in Manitoba

A new traditional healing centre has opened up in Pine Falls to serve four First Nation communities in Manitoba.

Giigewigamig Traditional Healing Centre to serve 4 First Nation communities

Giigewigamig Traditional Healing Centre opened on Monday. (Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority)

A new traditional healing centre has opened up in Pine Falls to serve four First Nation communities in Manitoba.

Eleven years after a vision of a healing lodge was received through a First Nation ceremony, the Giigewigamig Traditional Healing Centre had its grand opening on Monday.
Giigewigamig Traditional Healing Centre opened on Monday. (Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson/Submitted )

The centre's goal is to reflect the identity and healing traditions of Indigenous people from Sagkeeng First Nation, Black River First Nation, Hollow Water First Nation and Bloodvein First Nation.

"I think it gives our people, especially in Sagkeeng, an opportunity to look at options for their health," said Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson on CBC Radio's Up To Speed.

"Sometimes maybe what the medical doctor may recommend may not be something that the community member wants if they want to see a traditional healer, if they want to attend a sweat lodge or something, something that's traditional to them and that's what the option is."

Giigewigamig means "place of healing" in the Anishinaabe language.

The four First Nation communities have united as the Giigewigamig First Nation Health Authority to manage the new centre and elders from the communities will oversee it.  

The centre includes indoor and outdoor spaces for traditional healing ceremonies, teachings, sacred fires and smudging areas. There is also a kitchen facility to prepare traditional foods and medicines and areas for Indigenous approaches to palliative care.
Giigewigamig Traditional Healing Centre centre includes indoor and outdoor spaces for traditional healing ceremonies, teachings, sacred fires and smudging areas. (Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson/Submitted)

"I think it's going to make a difference for the people that are experiencing health issues. It gives them an opportunity to take a look at what's available in the primary care and also within the traditional healing lodge," Henderson said.

"It's going to help them to bring their issues and help them to heal, whether its emotional, spiritual, physical, whatever the need is of the people."

The centre is connected to the Pine Falls Health Complex which is run by the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority. Ron Janzen, the health region's vice-president of corporate services, said it means there will be a more holistic type of care that will tap into the "type of care that addresses much broader and essential needs of the community."

It also brings the primary care centre up from the basement of the Pine Falls Health Complex, he added.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Giigewigamig Traditional Healing Centre. (Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson/Submitted)
"We now have an environment where both the RHA and the First Nations groups can work in a completely collaborative model and share facilities and integrate programs," he said.

However, Henderson added it was important that the healing centre remained autonomous.

"If you want to be part of something you need to take ownership on it too, right. The responsibility will be on those four communities now to make sure that this thing operates the way it should," he said.

Powerview-Pine Falls is located about 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.