Feds pump money into new facility that will promote connection, healing in Fisher River

·3 min read

A Manitoba First Nation has received more than $1 million in federal funding that they say will allow them to support and assist women and girls dealing with domestic abuse and family violence.

At an event at the Fisher River Cree Nation (FRCN) on Thursday, officials with FRCN and the federal government announced that the feds will be providing $1.24 million towards the construction of the Red Turtle Lodge Cultural Centre, a cultural space that will look to address the “root causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals.”

According to FRCN Chief David Crate, the lodge will be “a hub where members of the Fisher River Cree Nation and surrounding communities will gather, learn and share traditional practices, with a special focus on the needs of women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+people.”

The issue of abuse against women and girls is one that continues to disproportionately affect Indigenous communities here in Manitoba and across the country, as a recent Statistics Canada study showed that 63% of Indigenous women in Canada have experienced physical or sexual assault in their lifetime, while 33% of non-Indigenous women have experienced physical or sexual assault.

As well in Manitoba, a report released earlier this year by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth showed that more than 80% of youth in Manitoba that witnessed domestic intimate partner violence in a one-month period were Indigenous.

Healing circles, full-moon ceremonies, and an annual women’s healing gathering are among the planned initiatives once the lodge is open, and Crate said they will be taking recommendations from community members on what they would like to see offered once it is up and running.

“We had many people, community Elders and numerous organizations come together in developing this proposal for our community,” Crate said. “We’ve seen the need to create a space within our community that can help connect people to who they are as Indigenous people.

“The Red Turtle Lodge will help our people enhance and revive their cultural practices and traditional ceremonies that will ultimately bring healing.”

He also thanked the federal government for showing what he said is a commitment to reconciliation.

“We are pleased with the federal government's contribution to the Red Turtle Lodge, as it is another example of their commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples of Canada,” Crate said.

During Thursday’s announcement, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller spoke about what he thinks the new lodge will bring to the community that sits about 190 kilometres north of Winnipeg and is home to approximately 3,800 band members.

“The Red Turtle Lodge will be more than a building, it will be a safe space for healing, connection and sharing,” Miller said.

“Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ members of the Fisher River Cree Nation and surrounding communities will have greater access to the teachings, traditions and ceremonies that are so essential to individual well-being.

“I commend the leadership of the Fisher River Cree Nation for taking the steps to make their vision of a place to enhance Cree language, culture and spiritual wellness a reality.”

The feds said they are providing the $1.24 million towards construction of the centre, through the Cultural Spaces in Indigenous Communities Program (CSICP), a program that will receive a total of $108.8 million over two years, as part of the 2021 federal budget.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun