About Us

About us

Gwekwaadziwin Miikan Youth Mental Health and Addictions Program is an innovative residential land-based treatment program created specifically to the needs of Indigenous youth and young adults ages 19-30 investing in the wellness of First Nations communities. Gwekwaadziwin is located on Manitoulin Island, and is a unique key component of six First Nations and collaboration with local and provincial resources. It supports the youth and young adults on their path of recovery, from stabilization, through treatment, aftercare, and transition back into their community. Weaving traditional culture with therapeutic best practices, education, life skills, and outdoor experiential learning, allows Gwekwaadziwin to offer a full spectrum of care for individuals.

Living the Right Way

“Gwekwaadziwin” is one of the Seven Grandfather Teachings, a set of Anishinabek teachings on human conduct towards others. When translated into English, it is referred to as “Honesty,” but in the Ojibwe language it means more than Honesty. Gwekwaadziwin means “Living the Right Way.” Our programs will provide a client-centered model of mental health and substance abuse treatment for Anishinabek youth and young adults. It aims to support a community of healthy youth and young adults working towards wellness, education, and economic prosperity for individuals, families, and communities from an Indigenous perspective. 

Mission

To serve our youth and their families and guide them to ‘Living the Right Way’ by integrating the wisdom of our traditional knowledge keepers, providing a program from stabilization through reintegration into the community, and, addressing the individual needs of our participants.

Vision

Healthy and prosperous Anishinabe communities on Mnidoo Mnising with youth oriented to ‘Living the Right Way’. Sharing knowledge and best practices so that Indigenous communities can become healthy and prosperous.

Investing in the wellness of First Nations communities

Gwekwaadziwin was created to address the epidemic of addictions and mental health issues facing many Indigenous communities. According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s Indigenous peoples overall mental health is poorer than non-aboriginal peoples. Gwekwaadziwin was created to fill a number of access gaps to mental health service that Indigenous youth and young adults experience in Northern Ontario.

A connection to cultural identity and community are critical to recovery and success for Indigenous youth and young adults struggling with addictive behaviours and mental health challenges. Anishinabek teachings and traditions are central to our programs, and Elders are part of the treatment team. The Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel teach about the inseparability of the emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual aspects, and that each must be supported in an individual to achieve harmony. Our program is intentionally structured to promote balanced living, and to nurture emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth and meaningful, sustainable change for Indigenous youth and young adults.

The Seven Grandfathers Teaching

At Gwekwaadziwin, we focus on the Seven Grandfather Teachings – Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth – as our core themes for living. Our programs study each teaching in-depth and are supported to integrate these teachings into daily life.

Zaagidiwin

Love

Dbaadendiziwin

Humility

Debwewin

Truth

Gwekwaadziwin

Honesty

Mnaadendmowin

Respect

Aakedhewin

Bravery

Nbwaakaawin

Wisdom

Governance

Gwekwaadziwin has full support from Aundeck Omni Kaning, M’Chigeeng First Nation, Sheguiandah First Nation, Sheshegwaning First Nation, Whitefish River First Nation, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation. Gwekwaadziwin has also made connections with local Health Centres, Health Units, Family Health Teams, OPP & UCCMM Police, Child Welfare, as well as other social and community service providers.

Gwekwaadziwin is a unique partnership among the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM) and Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute (KTEI). UCCMM provides administration and support of the project, KTEI will provide the educational component.

Governance structure will be modeled on the principles of responsibility, accountability and transparency.

Meet Our Team


Sam Gilchrist

Executive Director

Anne-Marie Thibault

Clinical Director

Matt Maracle

Team Leader

Godfrey Shawanda

Knowledge Keeper

Curtis Hare

Live-In Counsellor

Jennifer Wright

Admissions Coordinator

Nicole Mathia

Community After Care Counsellor

Don Cada

Aftercare Support Worker

Jody Manchester

Aftercare Support Worker

Julie Wilder

Traditional Knowledge Keeper

Howard Debassige

Culinary Specialist

Troy Thibault

Data Specialist

Candice Corbiere

Land Based Treatment Counsellor

Aaron Case

Land Based Treatment Counsellor

Eddie Gough

Land Based Treatment Counsellor

Andrew Nahwegahbow

Land Based Treatment Counsellor

Thomas Hare

Land Based Treatment Counsellor

Paul Stewart

Generalist Support Worker

Stephanie Corbiere

Live In Aftercare Counsellor

Jody Kennedy McQuarrie

Land Based Treatment Counsellor

Partners