Recovery home for Indigenous women opens in Calgary
CALGARY -- A partnership between Oxford House and Poundmaker’s Lodge treatment centres has blossomed a new beginning for Indigenous women seeking help to recover from trauma or addictions.
"It’s the first of its kind, so it's going to be a learning process for everybody," said Earl Thiessen, executive director of Oxford House.
The home, named "Red Woman House" will accommodate between four to five women, all who have gone through hardships. It will match the men's home that opened in Dec. 2019, making two such shelters in the city.
A red print cloth was presented to the residents, which is displayed near the front door.
Officials say this is just one of the steps to making the women feel safe and on the path to recovery.
"They take care of the house. The house is theirs," said Thiessen. "We oversee the operation of it, we want them to feel at home, we want them to feel safe."
The home was officially opened on Sunday, but resident Shannon Little Light has been living there for several days.
It was the chance she needed, to live a happy life.
"I came so far from my addictions, I’ve been five months sober," said Little Light. "It gave me a home, it gave me hope, it gave me a home to regain my life back."
Little Light says she’s excited to welcome new residents in, over the next week, adding it will be a chance to build connections.
"I know some of them won’t have homes, and this is a start for them, it was a start for me, it is a start for me," she said. "I’m on my way to going back to school, getting my education, I want to help people."
The home was blessed by Blood Tribe elder Georgette Fox (Niipoomahkii - Leaf Woman).
Fox says homes like this are needed to protect vulnerable Indigenous women and girls.
"This one is specifically for us, and it's a real blessing," she said.
Officials say this home is a chance for Indigenous women to stay true to culture.
"We want to ensure that they have the ability to connect with female elders," said Brad Cardinal, executive director of the Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres. "The ladies have an opportunity to practice their culture in the way they see fit, based on the cultural group they belong to."
Staff say the home will allow the women in the early stages of recovery, to flourish mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.