The Biidaaban Healing Lodge in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg was one of 30 agencies across northern Ontario that received more than $3 million through Ontario’s Partner Facility Renewal program for about 150 projects involving repairs, renovations, upgrades and fire safety.

By Rick Garrick

BIIGTIGONG NISHNAABEG –The Biidaaban Healing Lodge recently received $15,200 from Ontario’s Partner Facility Renewal (PFR) program for renovations and upgrades for its 12-unit facility in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg.

“The money will be used to make some of our bedroom facilities more handicap accessible in terms of open showers that are wheelchair accessible,” says Simone Desmoulin, executive director of Biidaaban Healing Lodge. “The electrical component is to upgrade some of the bedrooms from water radiant heating to electrical backup.”

The Biidaaban Healing Lodge received $9,800 for the shower renovations and $5,400 for the electrical heater installation.

“Community and developmental service agencies play an invaluable role in providing critical services to many people across Ontario,” says Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek. “By investing in repairs, renovations, upgrades and fire safety, we are ensuring that individuals that require services at these agencies have access to improved facilities and that staff who work tirelessly assisting those who require supports can focus on what they do best: helping people in our communities.”

The Biidaaban Healing Lodge provides residential and community-based programming for the Aboriginal population in the Robinson-Superior area. Information is posted online at: www.biidaaban.com.

“We offer programs in the areas of Grief and Abandonment four times a year — that’s a 10-day program cycle,” Desmoulin says. “Four times a year we offer a five-day Anger Solutions program and we also offer a 10-day Sexual Abuse Survivors program.”

Desmoulin says Biidaaban Healing Lodge provides a safe therapeutic environment where clients can begin to address their unresolved issues.

“We do a lot of group work here so it breaks that sense of isolation, that you are alone with your story in the traumas of childhood,” Desmoulin says. “They realize that they are not alone, that a lot of times the feelings and emotions they are experiencing are quite common and normal for people who have gone through trauma.”

Desmoulin adds that clients are are also supported by a peer-support group.

“We offer a lot of traditional healing ceremonies that work in conjunction with the Western ways of dealing with trauma,” Desmoulin says. “We offer traditional pipe ceremonies, sweat lodge ceremonies, letting go ceremonies and doing some things such as the cedar bath to help them continue their healing journey.”

The funding for Biidaaban Healing Lodge was among more than $3 million announced on Sept. 11 by the provincial government for about 150 projects at more than 30 agencies in northern Ontario.

“Safety measures like upgraded fire alarm systems, fire doors, and sprinkler systems reduce the impact of fire and help save lives,” says Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Marie-France Lalonde. “Buildings and facilities across the province that provide community services will benefit from enhanced fire safety measures – further protecting Ontario’s most vulnerable and giving peace of mind to their loved ones.”

Some of the provincial investments for other agencies include $286,000 for Beendigen Inc. in Thunder Bay; $82,000 for Enaahtig Healing Lodge and Learning Centre in Victoria Harbour and Alban; $19,400 for Mississauga Women’s Shelter APO-WAY-A-IN-WIGWAMIN in Blind River; and $47,000 for Wikwemikong.

The PFR minor capital funding is provided annually to help community and developmental service agencies repair, renovate or upgrade their facilities. Ontario is investing about $16 million for about 850 projects at more than 150 community service agencies across the province in 2017/18. Ontario is also investing $6.5 million for fire safety in more than 90 facilities at more than 30 community service agencies across the province.