God's Lake Narrows, a Manitoba fly-in community, is stronger following a healing camp targeting addictions and social issues.
RCMP Sgt. George Whelan, who worked in God's Lake Narrows until December, helped organize the camp and says it was "an empowering, uplifting and supportive environment."
Whelan says since the camp, there have been fewer calls to police and families have had their children returned from social services.
The success is attributed to the support system the camp developed in the community.
"When people go out of town for treatment they don't always have support when they return," says Alice Captain, a supervisor with the God's Lake Narrows Awasis Agency, a family services organization. "If they do treatment in the community, the support is here."
The participants applied what they learned in the community and volunteered at the next camp.
"We started with six participants, and after the second camp there were 12 people and the support grows," says Whelan.
Several guest speakers attended the camp touching on topics like domestic abuse and child welfare.
Participants could discuss their experience with addiction and withdrawals, which allowed them to understand and support one another.
Whelan wore his RCMP uniform during his three-day stay to expand the community's view of the RCMP and strengthen the relationship with the community.
"We're often seen in an enforcing role and I wanted to be seen in a supportive role in the uniform," Whelan says.
"This showed people they can see the police differently," adds Captain.
The camp involved activities such as fishing for walleye and northern pike, and collecting traditional medicines like wild mint and lavender leaf.
Whelan says the camp resonates with community members and their way of life.
"This is a grassroots initiative that has people connecting with their cultures and traditions," says Whelan.
"It takes people back to their roots and promotes healing from the land," Captain says.
The program continues with monthly meetings and the camp will resume with warmer weather. Whelan says the program's ongoing nature shows it's a success and it would be positive in other communities.