Our mission is reducing the prevalence and harmful consequences of alcohol and drug abuse among Native people. Service to our people is the first directive we follow as mandated by our Board of Directors, in turn following a directive from the Mushkegowuk Council of Chiefs representing the Western Hudson and James Bay First Nation communities. However, other First Nations are accepted and the apparent difference among Canada’s Native people is set aside at Sagashtawao Healing Lodge. Now we share a common enemy, the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. Cree, Ojibway, Innu, Oneida, Seneca, Micmac, Delaware, Chippewa, Sioux all have experienced in sharing and brotherhood we offer at the treatment centre.
In many First Nation communities in Canada, came to realization that alcohol was a major contributing factor to the problems facing Native people and a major obstacle to the fulfillment of their potential and realization of their goals. Such problems as poor health, poverty, unemployment and social pathology are seen as manifestations of the complex disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. There is also acknowledgement among Native people that there are critical differences between Native and Non-Native people. Taking into consideration the success of other Native treatment centres especially in Alberta, came the dream that effective treatment and rehabilitation would require the recognition of these differences. So in part, Sagashtawao Healing Lodge’s mission was to find and train Native people to become effective drug and alcohol counselors.
After eleven years of obstacles, frustrations, and disappointments, but through determination and planning and with the support of Mushkegowuk Tribal Council, a group of dedicated individuals was finally able to convince the federal government for funding. The success is evident in the beautiful building, which has been developed and the professionally trained staff who are all of Native ancestry. A grand opening was held in the summer of 1993 and the first intake of clients followed shortly. With this in place, a program was developed that was modeled after two most successful Native treatment centres in Canada, Poundmaker’s Lodge in Alberta and Native Horizon’s in Hagersville, Ontario. Today our Native people see hope for our generations yet unborn and our ability to control our destiny. Having the responsibility for our personal well-being and our own identity as First Nations people, and our own spirituality choices gives the ability to assume leadership of our own respective communities again.