• At a cost of $16.1 million, first of its kind in northern Saskatchewan
• Facility to provide modern medicine along with traditional healing

Chief Tammy Cook-Searson of Lac La Ronge Indian Band with other Band chiefs, LLRIB councillors and guests at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the grand opening of the Woodland Wellness Centre in La Ronge Far Reserve on Tuesday. Indigenous Services Parliamentary Secretary Vance Badawey is on Chief Tammy’s immediate left, while LLRIB Senator Harry Cook is on her right. Also seen in the picture — Saskatchewan Minister of Mental Health & Addictions Everett Hindley, and Cumberland MLA Doyle Vermette

Click here for a tour of the Woodland Wellness Centre

La Ronge, June 21, 2022 (Tuesday): Chief Tammy Cook-Searson led Band Councillors, the membership and a host of dignitaries at the grand opening of the Woodland Wellness Centre at Far Reserve, coinciding with the National Indigenous Peoples Day today.

The Centre is a 24-bed facility for Indigenous Peoples in northern Saskatchewan and will provide wellness, treatment and recovery to those dealing with mental health problems and addictions.

The grand opening began early in the morning with the traditional pipe ceremony. Other highlights of the celebrations included the grand entry led by three-year-old Jingle Dress Dancer Kierra McKenzie, performances by Ironswing and New Dawn drummers, and speeches by several dignitaries. The ribbon (of moose hide, specially made for the occasion) was cut as Ironswing performed the Victory Song.

Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said: “The Woodland Wellness Centre is a solution for emotional and psychological well-being of our people here in the North. I’d like to thank all those who have been our partners in realizing this dream. Thanks to the project team and the community members for input into our community vision. We appreciate all our funders, including the federal and provincial governments, who supported the realization of this vision. We now have a beautiful facility that will provide care for youth and adults. We want to establish one-of-a-kind programming where the best of Western medicine co-exists with traditional and land-based healing to incorporate our Cree language, practices and values,”

On the occasion, musicians LJ Tyson and Eliza Doyle, along with students of Senator Miles Venne School in La Ronge, performed the hit, Not Alone, while musician Dakota Favel delivered the keynote speech. LJ Tyson also sang his hit solo, Sober.

Indigenous Services Parliamentary Secretary MP Vance Badawey said: “It is wonderful to take part in the grand opening of the Woodland Wellness Centre in Lac La Ronge on National Indigenous Peoples Day. This centre has become a reality thanks to the dedication of community leaders, and will be able to provide culturally appropriate mental health and addictions support and programming for Indigenous Peoples in northern Saskatchewan. Through Indigenous Services Canada the Federal Government has provided a capital investment of more than $11 million for this project, and it is a great example of all partners working together to support Indigenous-led health and wellness.”

Spread over 1,800 square metres, the Woodland Wellness Centre has been financially supported by the Federal Government ($11.6 million) and the provincial government ($2.5 million), apart from an additional $2 million and land from LLRIB. The federal government has also committed to funding the Centre’s maintenance and operations through its first year.

Saskatchewan Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Everett Hindley (he was among the dignitaries at the grand opening), said: “Our government is pleased to provide capital funding for this project. This contribution is an opportunity to participate in an innovative model of care that is community-driven and culturally responsive. I want to extend a sincere thank you to the project team, community members, leaders, and elders for making this project a success.

Along with prevention and recovery, the eagle-shaped wellness Centre will have an in-patient care wing as well as an area for out-patients. It will also include a multi-purpose room for activities, a sweat lodge, kitchen, walking path and an indoor-heated unit for meat and hide preparation.

Saskatoon-based Wright Construction, along with engineering company March Consulting Associates Inc, have executed the Woodland Wellness Centre project. In 2021, a job fair was conducted to employ labourers and skilled tradespeople within the LLRIB membership for the construction of the centre.