Mobile addictions program piloted in Fort Smith

FORT SMITH (September 11, 2017) – A community-based mobile addictions pilot program is being delivered in Fort Smith that is responding to a need identified by elders and community members for culturally-safe addictions programming. The program is made possible by a collaboration between the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Salt River First Nation (SFRN) and Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres, which is a facility of excellence with a long standing history of supporting NWT residents in their healing.

The program started on August 21, 2017, and is being delivered in three phases, with each phase running for two weeks, followed by two weeks for participants to implement personal learning.  This program integrates therapeutic counselling, on the land activities, cultural teachings, community capacity building and education on addictions and recovery, and will conclude on October 28, 2017.

The Fort Smith mobile addictions pilot program is an example of how NWT residents, government and our partners are working together to foster wellbeing and safety by focusing on mental health and addictions and ensuring that services are delivered locally with culturally-appropriate methods. The GNWT applauds the Salt River First Nation and Poundmaker’s for their implementation of this grassroots mobile addictions treatment initiative.


“I applaud the leadership shown by Poundmaker’s and Salt River First Nations in addressing the need for this program. Poundmaker’s Lodge has a long-standing, 40-year record of delivering effective programming and services for NWT residents. By working with local governments and leadership we can ensure all people in NWT have access to treatment options that work for them.  I look forward to learning from this project and working with other Indigenous governments on similar initiatives.”
-Glen Abernethy, Minister of Health and Social Services

“We are pleased to support Salt River First Nation in offering this innovative option to residents of the NWT. We believe a culturally-safe trauma informed approach is most effective in addressing addictions and this initiative further supports reconciliation and healing for our Indigenous peoples. A key feature of this program is its use of an Indigenous therapeutic community model which ensures clients mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs are addressed in the therapeutic process. We look forward to engaging with other Indigenous groups in the NWT to offer similar initiatives.”
-Brad Cardinal, Executive Director Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres

“Wellness and healing are issues near and dear to the current leadership of Salt River First Nation. This program, featuring strong cultural and on-the-land components, and delivered by aboriginal people, is the latest in a series of Band initiatives to help our people heal. We set the bar high at Salt River, so we are pleased to work with Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres, a leading treatment centre familiar with the North, and the Territorial Government, to offer this unique program to our Members and the residents of the Fort Smith region.”
-Chief Frieda Martselos, Salt River First Nation

Quick Facts:

  • A recommendation of the Minister’s Forum on Addictions and Community Wellness was to offer mobile treatment to NWT communities. In response, the Department of Health and Social Services committed to develop a request for proposals to design and deliver a mobile treatment program.
  • In the Health and Social Services Mind and Spirit – Strategic Framework 2016-2021,  the Department is focused on expanding a range of services available for treatment, including the on the land programming and mobile treatment.
  • The drug and addictions program is part of the Salt River First Nation’s broader commitment to initiatives that assist and engage the whole community to achieve increased healthy outcomes.
  • The focus of the program is to provide a safe, secure, community-based mobile addictions treatment program with an on-the-land component and with significance placed on Indigenous healing and recovery and the road to abstinence.
  • This initiative will utilize a therapeutic community model, which is based on best practices in Indigenous health, and guides programming to ensure that mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being are addressed effectively.

Media inquiries:

Charlotte Digness
Media and Communications Coordinator
Cabinet Communications and Protocol
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 767-9140  Ext. 11092

Bruce Cottingham
Acting Chief Executive Officer
Salt River First Nation
Fort Smith, NT
Phone: (867) 872-2986

Brad Cardinal
Executive Director
Poundmakers Lodge Treatment Centres
Phone: (780) 458-1884 ext. 307


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