Treatment Services

Hopedale Treatment Services

Category: Day-treatment Centre
Sponsoring organization: Health and Social Development Department, Nunatsiavut Government
Community: Hopedale, Labrador
Started:  August 2009

Short description of the program:

Hopedale Treatment Services is a day-treatment program. There are three staff members at the program: an addictions worker, intake assessment worker/mental health worker, and a community health worker.

The pre-treatment program is six weeks long with three-hour group sessions three times per week. Individual counselling and group sessions are provided. The program carries out pre-treatment, screening, initial planning, case management, and referrals to a residential treatment centre in Northwest River, Labrador. In addition, the Nunatsiavut Health and Social Development Department has been actively working to start treatment services throughout Labrador/Nunatsiavut communities. In the Nunatsiavut communities, about 25 people have been trained to do assessments and individual therapy sessions. The community of Hopedale is the first community to start the day-treatment program.

Future plans include incorporating elders into the program by having them meet with the clients. Another plan is to create an on-the-land program, where clients will spend a week camping. This part of the program will be about violence and sexual abuse, and will involve hunting, fishing and traditional activities.

Interview with Ginette Chouinard of Hopedale Treatment Services:

Inuit Tuttarvingat of NAHO hired consultant Leesie Naqitarvik to conduct interviews with a number of agencies that work on addictions prevention, awareness and education, and treatment. We are presenting an edited [1] version of her interview with Ginette Chouinard of Hopedale Treatment Services, conducted in 2009 [2]:

Question: Who is involved in the program and how was it developed?

Answer: This service is for community members of Hopedale. It was developed by the Department of Health and Social Development. So far 24 or 25 individuals have been trained by the Mamisarvik Treatment Program team from Tungasuvvingat Inuit in Ottawa. Five team members travelled to Northwest River to train the staff on these issues: assessment, trauma, post traumatic disorder, and addictions. An elder, Meeka Arnakaq, also came and gathered with elders from each Nunatsiavut community. This was one week of sharing of information with elders. It is to be noted that the elders have lost their role [in society] and now they are trying to incorporate traditional teachings [into programs and services for Inuit]. It is important to hear their stories as they have a wealth of knowledge and traditions.

Question: Please describe more of what you do or did.

Answer: I had been working for the Mamisarvik Treatment Centre in Ottawa for about eight years as a program coordinator and facilitating treatment sessions. As a result, I was hired by the Nunatsiavut Government to coordinate and develop their treatment services.

For now, I and three other people are starting a pre-treatment program in each community. We are working with the staff to get the programs up and running.

We are using the model that was developed by Mamisarvik Treatment Program, for the Government of Nunatsiavut. We are doing a continuum of care and running it in Labrador. This model includes outreach, initial assessment, treatment planning, client and case management, community treatment, day and evening programming, residential treatment programming, family programming, individual counselling, all ceremonies attached to it, and on-the-land and community programming. . . .  We also do professional development with/for the health of the frontline workers. We teach workers to look at unhealthy practices. We’ve also done media activities and liaising with other service providers. We promote working together in a large team setting. The biggest part is to make change: to bring people together and work together with the resources that we have.

Question: What has the program accomplished? What are the strengths?

Answer: So far I find it exciting to see staff members complement each other – there has been 180 degree turn around. The staff is excited and are now co-leading sessions, and completing their clinical notes, and we have more pre-treatment groups. . . . We have nine participants and the team that will sustain the program is now becoming a closer unit and the confidence level has increased. We also had a meeting with 15 community service providers as part of sharing of information – they are keen on having more meetings. They would like to continue with professional development and keep getting the 30 service providers to meet.

Our team of four is moving in the right direction. Our values and beliefs and [the actual development of] the programming are our strengths. The people involved at the community level are empowered as it is about ownership and self-empowerment. It is important to have ownership, to be proud of it and they are really excited. So far, they are incorporating lighting of the qulliq which they didn’t know before. This is going to be their practice now. As well, shortly, an individual will be hired to be a teacher and a translator to teach Inuktitut one hour per day to staff and clients. The clients are also learning about drumming.

Question: What are the challenges/barriers?

Answer: Personally, I’m finding it different in the Labrador region in terms of comparing it to the Mamisarvik Treatment Program in Ottawa – there seems to be less Inuktitut language being spoken here and seems to be less traditional activities.

The challenge is there are a lot of residential school issues here and [the pain and other feelings are] very present. The big challenge is to get the workers to work around it.

Question: What advice would you give to others?

Answer: Advice to funders: when developing programs sometimes the push to open is too soon, when a foundation is not yet quite ready. We just need a little room as the program will grow and [for the funders] not to focus on the deadline. Sometimes we just need a little more time to fully prepare staff and the team.

Advice to frontline workers: they need to be valued with appropriate salary. This field is hard work, [and they need] the proper benefits.

Question: What inspires you to do what you do?  Any words of encouragement to individuals, frontline workers, etc.?

Answer: What inspires me is to be in your element in your field, with good balance and healthy lifestyle and you need to debrief yourself and co-workers. You also need a passion and to be courageous and be really open minded and flexible, and to have done your own healing, have an ability to put yourself aside when you’re working, and to be very honest.

[Some words of] encouragement: have the ability to see change where it’s not obvious; sometimes they [the counsellors] think they don’t have an effect, but everything they do for clients pays off. Believe what you do is effective; that you make a difference. Sometimes “thank you” comes even years later. Believe in yourself. . . . Debriefing is important because sometimes miscommunication happens. . . . Encourage each other [by saying] “how fantastic you were today” and do self healing throughout. Don’t do too much – know your limit.

Question: Would you recommend any documents or websites relating to alcohol abuse?

Answer: There are some good materials online, for example: ‘journaling’ in which clients write on paper about their choice of drug . . . or one week of writing and talking about tolerance and abuse.

Question: Any other comments?

Answer: Thank you for being interested and being inclusive. It’s very exciting about what is happening in Labrador. Vision: you believe in what you do, change can happen if the community wants it – it’s a good vision.

Contact Information:

Department of Health and Social Development
Nunatsiavut Government
25 Ikajuktauvik Road
P.O. Box 70, Nain, NL, A0P 1L0
Phone: (709) 922-2942
Fax: (709) 922-2931


[1] Several editing marks are used in this document. The … indicates that some sentences have been deleted, in order to shorten the document. The [ ] is used to insert words that may have been missing or to help further explain a sentence.

[2] The information collected in these interviews is current as of 2009. Please contact the program/service for further information or updates on their programs.

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