Our Story

Nimkee NupiGawagan Healing Centre was built on a foundation of culture and ceremony: two elements that are critical to the program developed here. Our services are designed to honour our traditional knowledge and cultural practices for healing and wellness for youth, as well as their families who come here.

Indigenous drum beside a fireBefore Nimkee NupiGawagan, there was no youth specific residential substance abuse treatment for First Nation’s youth in Canada. As a result, our youth had no choice but to travel to the United States for First Nation-specific service providers. 

Our healing centre was established in 1996 with support from area First Nations: Chippewas of the Thames First Nation secured resources for our present building with the support of the Southern First Nations Secretariat. Operational funding was provided by Health Canada. 

The community, youth, Elders and cultural teachers gathered on the land where Nimkee was to be built, offering ceremonies to let the Great Spirit know our plans to undertake this work of healing for our young people. We offered tobacco, food and water to the Creator and the four directions of the land.  Starting in this sacred way meant we would have the support of Creation, the land and all that lives on the land, our Mother the Earth, as well as the Great Spirit all around us.

In developing our culture-based program, we looked at how conventional western-based evidence, methods and theories of health care could be combined with our traditional knowledge and sacred teachings. The result is the development of a two-world view of healing to support the development of Nimkee’s First Nations youth-specific residential, culture-based substance abuse program.