Blood Tribe receives critical funding to expand addiction support program, policing

The Alberta government is promising funding for addiction treatment and policing for the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta.

They have pledged more than $6.5 million in funding over three years to expand existing addiction support services on the reserve and another $480,000 to the Blood Tribe Police Service to hire five additional officers.

This funding will allow the Tribe to expand the addiction care facility, called Kottakinoona Awaahkapiiyaawa — which translates to Bringing the Spirit Home — to expand from it’s current six beds to 24.

The care facility provides clients medical detox services and 24-hour clinical care for 10 to 14 days.

It’s welcome funding, as the First Nation’s safe withdrawal management site has already treated more than 200 people but there are still 150 people on the wait list to be helped.

“We need to tailor support around the people, at the end of the day it’s the people and their surrounding community that change,”  said Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addiction.

Luan said over the next three years, the new money will enable treatment for more than 37,000 Indigenous Albertans.

The funding for the Blood Tribe Police Service, part of a $13.6-million budget allotment for the Blood Tribe Police Service and other Indigenous police services in Alberta, will allow five police officers to be hired.

“[We’re] training our resourcing to do community events and just sit down with people and really build relationships and that’s what were trying to do but it really hinders us when we’re going call to call to call,” said Blood Tribe police Chief Kyle Melting Tallow.

The new officers will start this May and stay on the front lines for a year.

Melting Tallow is urging the province to invest in a more long-term funding model.

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