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Two addictions treatment centres to open in April

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 7, 2011

IKALUKTUTIAK/CAMBRIDGE BAY - Nunavut residents seeking treatment for alcohol or drug addiction will soon have a choice closer to home as two addictions treatment centres are set to open this spring.

The territorial government's Department of Health and Social Services has put out a request for proposals to establish residential addictions treatment centres in Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit in existing Government of Nunavut buildings already furnished and equipped. Each centre, to be operational 24/7, will have the capacity to support 12 people for a 28-day inpatient treatment program with a continual intake. The government anticipates the facilities, which will accept patients from youth to elders, both male and female, to open in the spring.

In 2009, the territory referred about 70 clients south, a number consistent with other years, said Norm Hatlevik, territorial director of mental health and addictions.

"We see a need already by virtue of some of the numbers we refer south. The real desire and need is to provide these services closer to home communities in a more culturally-appropriate setting," he said.

"We know there is a larger need of people who will come forward and accept treatment services if it's closer to home. If you go south for a treatment centre, you've got a bit of a cultural adaptation before you even get into the treatment."

The centres will cut down a lot of the barriers to accessing treatment for people living in the North, said Jennifer Gagnon, a territorial addictions specialist with the mental health and wellness division.

"A treatment centre located in Nunavut that is serving country foods, in the normal environment the individual lives in, makes the ability to access the treatment centre and go through the program a much more successful opportunity for the individuals because it's culturally Inuit-specific," she said.

The territorial government wants the new centres to be in existing buildings, as it is the quickest way to introduce these services at this point, said Hatlevik.

The Cambridge Bay centre will service the Kitikmeot and Kivalliq regions while the one in Iqaluit will service the Baffin region.

"I think it's most welcome. I think it's a good idea," said Cambridge Bay Mayor Syd Glawson. "The municipality itself is thinking about applying for that tender."

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