Since opening the doors of the Reverend Tommy Beardy Memorial Wee Che He Wayo Gamik in October 17, 1991 is the culmination of an exciting movement in the addictions awareness field that began in the late 1970’s among the (28)-twenty-eight communities located in the Sioux Lookout District. With the inception of community based Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Counselling Programs, there was significant increase in the number of referrals being made to distant urban treatment centres. These centres lacked the background and experiences to deal effectively with the distinct Northern Native Culture of the area.
A proposal was presented in the late 1986 a need for a more accessible and appropriate services by the Sioux Lookout Area Chiefs Steering Committee to the Northern Native Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program (NNADAP) of the Medical Services Branch , National Health and Welfare. The proposal called for the undertaking of a feasibility study to determine the need for a treatment centre sensitive to the unique needs of the native clients of the area. This study was administrated by Windigo Tribal Council and overseen by the Keewaytinoon Curriculum Development Group composed of the Directors of various alcohol and drug prevention programs.
The study was conducted among thirty (30) First Nation communities and confirmed the need for a treatment centre. It was found the approach that best met the identified needs was a family centered residential program recognizing the need for the whole families to heal together and thereby have a positive impact on the community. A Resolution passed by the Chiefs in 1988, agreed with these findings.
The centre evolved and developed from a Resolution passed by the Sioux Lookout District Chiefs on June 29, 1989, and led to its incorporation as the Sioux Lookout Family Treatment Centre on July 23, 1989. The decision to choose Muskrat Dam First Nation on the site of the Family Treatment Centre was based on extensive discussion of four (4) options presented to them.
- The Family Treatment Centre supporters and planners were successful in advocating for a Northern location.
- The benefits of a on-reserve, community based and Native operated treatment centre out weighted other factors such as costs and accessibility.
- The Chiefs ratified the By-laws of the Family Treatment Centre on August 17th 1991.
- The final inspection of the Family Treatment Centre facility was carried out in January in 1991, with the finding that most of the specifications had been completed as planned.
Construction capital for the facility was secured from three sources:
- Medical Services Branch , Department of Health and Welfare,
- The Ministry of Health , Province of Ontario,
- Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Province of Ontario.