$2.3M from Ottawa will help Gwich’in Wellness Camp reopen

The federal government on Wednesday announced $2.3 million in funding for the renovation and expansion of the Gwich’in Wellness Camp, located an hour south of Inuvik.

The money will support the Gwich’in Tribal Council in developing an accessible and safe cultural space for all residents of the Beaufort Delta.

“Having a culturally appropriate facility and an inclusive space for the people of the region has always been a priority of the Gwich’in,” Nihtat Gwich’in Council director Kelly McLeod told Cabin Radio.


“You don’t have to walk down the main road in Inuvik to know that there are people with needs, and we’re hoping to be able to help with that. We’re just trying to create a healthier community. “

The GTC plans to use the funding to purchase boats, snow machines and four-wheelers to be used for on-the-land program delivery once the camp is up and running.

The money will also help to transform ceremonial spaces at the camp – which McLeod said currently resemble a conference centre – into more culturally appropriate and welcoming settings.

This isn’t the first round of federal funding the project has received. Over the winter, the GTC used other financial support to install solar panels and a biomass boiler, intended to reduce the overhead costs of running the camp.

Since the camp opened in 2008, the GTC has used it as a healing and cultural centre, offering language, traditional knowledge and mental health programming.


In 2012, high costs and insufficient funding forced the centre to close its doors. The centre’s dependence on diesel power accounted for much of the money spent.

In 2020, the newly elected GTC leadership prioritized reopening the centre.

McLeod hopes the camp will be open by the spring of 2023.

In a press release, federal Crown-Indigenous relations minister Marc Miller said initiatives like the camp are “crucial to advancing self-determination and responding to the MMIWG Calls for Justice, which call upon governments to prioritize safe and meaningful access to culture and languages for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.”


The federal money comes as part of a $108-million commitment made in the 2021 budget toward supporting Indigenous communities in re-establishing and revitalizing cultural spaces.