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(CBC News · June 30, 2022 – Used with permission) – $2.3 million in funding for the Gwich’in Wellness Camp was announced on Wednesday in Inuvik, N.W.T.

Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller along with Gwich’in Tribal Council Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik said the money was to help renovate the camp with the hopes of reopening it by next year.

The camp is an on-the-land healing centre. 

It was built in 2008 on the eastern arm of the Mackenzie River about 15 kilometres from Inuvik, according to a government of Canada website. It’s accessible by boat in the summer and fall and by snowmobile or truck in winter and spring months. The camp closed in 2012.

Kelly McLeod, a director with the Gwich’in Tribal Council, said the recently announced $2.3 million is significant to the community.

“It may seem small but it’s huge for us,” McLeod said.

“We’ve got all kinds of stuff going on out there. We have a lot of walkways and stuff like that to make the facility more wheelchair accessible. We have a very large gazebo getting built.”

She added there are also yurts getting built. And, inside the main facility, they are working to make it more a “culturally appropriate and safe space.”

“I think it’s gonna be a game changer for the region,” McLeod said. “Once we have the facility up and running, everybody will be able to access it, you know, not only the Gwich’in, but our partners to the north of us, Inuvialuit and other non-Indigenous as well.”

In March, the federal government announced the Gwich’in Tribal Council would get $63,000 to source and install a modular dock system at the camp.

Miller described the funding as a step toward reconciliation.

“The federal government, as well as other governments, need to step up,” Miller said, referring to reconciliation. He added “it’s a search for closure, information, and accountability.”

The money comes from the $108.8 million announced in Budget 2021 over two years for the Cultural Spaces in Indigenous Communities Program.

With files from Tyanna Bain and Wanda McLeod

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