Written by Calvin Ediger
On March 25th the Manitoba government announced that it will be providing $2 million in funding for a youth healing lodge in Thompson. The lodge will be operated by the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. The MKO is a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of the citizens of 26 First Nations that are signatories to Treaties 4, 5, 6, and 10. The organization is involved in several different advocacy areas, including child welfare, missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, education, housing, policing, and the Thompson Urban Aboriginal Strategy. The MKO lists their mission statement as:
To maintain, strengthen, enhance, lobby for and defend the interests and rights of First Nation people within its jurisdiction and to promote, develop and secure a standard quality of life deemed desirable and acceptable by its First Nations without limiting the generality of the foregoing and the objectives of MKO.
The focus of the first phase of the lodge is on providing community-based transitional resources for youth in northern Manitoba. Specifically, the project looks to create open-custody beds in northern Manitoba, to help support youths’ transitions back to their communities.
In later phases, the lodge aims to provide supports to use for support with addictions, mental health, and/or housing issues. The project also aims to incorporate traditional healing practices and connect indigenous youth to their culture. As stated by Grand Chief Garrison Settee “This healing lodge will allow MKO youth to remain within their traditional lands and will provide the opportunity for interventions and resources led by First Nations.”
In his announcement, Minister Goertzen said that the lodge will help reduce the use of Thompson’s RCMP cells for nonviolent youths. As the Manitoba Court of Queens bench noted in R. v. Balfour and Young, Thompson RCMP detachment’s jail cells are also used to hold accused awaiting a bail hearing and have limited cell capacity. Hopefully this announcement represents some first steps in easing the burden on and reduce the use of the Thompson RCMP’s cells.
 Government of Manitoba, “New Release: PROVINCE INVESTS $2 MILLION TO SUPPORT FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND YOUTH HEALING LODGE IN THOMPSON” (March 25, 2022), online: Province of Manitoba, https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=54003&posted=2022-03-25.
 R v. Balfour and Young, 2019, MBQB 167 at para 15.
The views and opinions expressed in the blogs are the views of their authors, and do not represent the views of the Faculty of Law, or the University of Manitoba. Academic Members of the University of Manitoba are entitled to academic freedom in the context of a respectful working and learning environment.