The Lac La Ronge Indian Band’s wellness, treatment and recovery centre will soon start construction.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the long-awaited facility was held Wednesday at the centre’s future home beside the Jeannie Bird Clinic.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was smaller than it normally would have been.

On hand were Chief Tammy Cook-Searson, the project management group, Prince Albert Grand Council Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice-Chief David Pratt and La Ronge Mayor Ron Woytowich.

Cook-Searson told those assembled the treatment centre won’t necessarily provide any new services but will enhance the band’s existing work in the area of addictions.

It’s about enhancing services,” she said. “It’s not about replacing what we have, it’s making what we have even better. So, we want to make sure we’re working with our addiction and mental health workers that are already working hard in our communities and enhancing what we have so they can better do their work within our communities.”

The centre will use traditional and western practices to treat addictions and promote healing.

It will have an in-patient and an out-patient wings.

The in-patient wing will have 24 beds, which is more than originally planned.

Pratt said the centre will be for all people in northern Saskatchewan – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – and will serve as a focal point to help heal the scars of colonialism.

These grounds are going to serve a valuable, vital service not only to the people of La Ronge and the area but to all the people in the north when it comes to healing and wellness,” he said. “Many of us are familiar with the issues we’re facing and the challenges around addictions and childhood trauma and all of those things that we’ve been through because of colonialism and residential schools.”

Consultation on the centre began around two years ago and it’s set to take about 18 months to complete.

Check out the video of the event here at ground-breaking ceremony.

(PHOTO: A number of dignitaries were on hand for the ground-breaking ceremony of the new Lac La Ronge Indian Band wellness, treatment and recovery centre. Photo by Brandon White.)