By Rick Garrick
THUNDER BAY – Dilico Anishinabek Family Care recently opened a downtown office in Thunder Bay to provide more services in health, mental health and addictions and child welfare.
“We have really been looking forward to this day,” says Darcia Borg, Dilico’s executive director. “We are going to be able to provide services to people that are accessible and close to where they are in the community.” Borg says the new office was created in response to the needs of the people they serve in the downtown core of Thunder Bay. “It’s going to provide a place for them,” Borg says. “We are going to be offering aftercare services here — that is something that people are in dire need of.”
Borg says the new office will also provide services for Elders. “Right now, many of our Elders cannot make it out to our main office (in Fort William First Nation),” Borg says. “This will be an easier place for them (to visit), and a welcoming place. We really want to see all community members see this as their centre.”
Borg says there has been a “huge influx” of First Nations people who have moved to Thunder Bay.
“We are trying to respond to that by providing this site where they can access their health, their mental health and child welfare prevention services,” Borg says. “There is a huge need currently in Thunder Bay and we believe this is only the start. We need to provide culturally appropriate services in Thunder Bay.”
Dilico partnered with Red Rock Indian Band to develop the new site, which is located in a building that the Red Rock Indian Band recently purchased at 131 North Archibald St., across the street from Thunder Bay’s new courthouse.
“We are honoured to be able to work with Dilico Anishinabek Family Care on another partnership to ensure the best delivery of services for the families in our area,” says Red Rock Indian Band Chief Pierre Pelletier.
Red Rock Indian Band previously partnered with Dilico in 2008 to renovate the former Heath Public School on the south side of Thunder Bay for Dilico’s counselling and clinical support, infant/child development and intake services. The band operates a number of office buildings in Thunder Bay and Nipigon.
“We can work together in bettering the lives of those we serve,” Borg says. “The opening of this new office will provide our children and families with easier access to our services.”
Borg, Pelletier and Red Rock Indian Band Councillor Omer Belisle, who is also president of Dilico’s Board of Directors, cut a ribbon to open the new office on Aug. 18. The board has one representative from each of the 13 First Nation communities in Dilico’s jurisdiction, ranging from Michipicoten in the east to Long Lake #58 in the northeast to Fort William in the west.
“At the root of everything is our children,” Pelletier says. “We have to get our children on track and maintain our culture. The Red Rock Indian Band is committed to working with (Dilico) to move ahead in any aspect we can.”
The new office will provide access to primary care staff, diabetes program staff, health services manager, youth outreach workers, concurrent disorder case manager, adult mental health worker, intake and aftercare workers, youth in transition worker and transitional aged service workers.
“We realize the need that we have to be here in the city, particularly with our youth outreach,” Belisle says. “The youth outreach works … with young people on the street to give them advice and counselling.”