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Ekweskeet Centre Serves The Community

Doug Cuthand

Chief Wallace Fox Staff members Don Cardinal (right) director of Community Projects and Walter Lavalee, Program Director.
Chief Wallace Fox Staff members Don Cardinal (right) director
of Community Projects and Walter Lavalee, Program Director.

In Cree, Ekweskeet means to improve a person's condition or lifestyle and that is the aim of the Ekweskeet Centre in Onion Lake.

The centre has been operating for almost a year and was established to cure individuals of their alcohol problems.

On September 28, the board of directors of the Ekweskeet Centre on the Onion Lake Reserve held their opening ceremonies.

"We already had an official opening with the District chiefs and representatives from the federal and provincial officials," Chief Wallace Fox stated. "This is a special opening for the local people on the reserve."

Don Cardinal, the community projects co-ordinator for the centre has been involved since the centre was in the proposal stage.

"We have room for a maximum of nine patients and two or three outpatients. Each patient enters a 28 day program and so far sixty-five have gone through the program", Don stated.

Patients are referred to the centre from the courts and by social workers, while a few come on their own initiative.

Don Cardinal outlined some of the programs the centre carries out in the community. "The centre assists in youth development on the band, conducts home visits, assists in the sports program and recently completed a summer camp for youth.

Speaking to the guests at the opening, Chief Wallace Fox stated that the centre was theirs and they were welcome to stop in from time to time. He also stated that a band company built the centre so the jobs and the profits stayed in the community.

Master of Ceremonies for the opening was Joe Stick, vice-chairman of the board of directors.

Mary Rose Opekokew, director of social development for the band stressed that the centre was community based. "The chief and council recognize that in the past outside agencies have not helped. The centre is unique because it is community based."

Some of the board members

Some of the board members: (L-R) Back Row: Joe Stick, Hector Quinny, John Wolf, Ed Warlowth. Front Row: (L-R) Vivian Whitebear and Mary Rose Opekokew, Director of Social Development for the Band.