August 2018


Staff and residents are busily preparing for our Annual General Meeting and Open House. Neighbours, supporters, program graduates, family members are all welcome Friday September 14, 2:00pm. Our guest speaker will be St. Norbert MLA Jon Reyes. The business portion of the afternoon includes a song from the Brown Bear Spirit Singers, remarks from our Board President, presentation of our Annual Report and Financial Statement, and the election of our volunteer Board of Directors. Following that, we will offer tours of our facility and a feast for all to enjoy.

The BHF Philosophy is read every day at Morning Meeting. It says, in part, “If we are to teach and to learn we must attach ourselves to an environment which is created and dedicated to the betterment of humanity.” The ideas expressed in the philosophy are put into practice in many ways in the day to day process of treatment programming, but nowhere is this sentiment more clearly upheld than in teachings, preparations and participation in the annual Sundance.

BHF’s North Winds Lodge held its annual Sundance July 18 – 22, with 82 dancers entering the arbor and 81 completing. Dancers came from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, including three BHF staff and 31 current and past program members. We were honoured to have elders from Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI in attendance, including Mi’kmaq elders, Joe John and Irene Sanipass who are long time supporters and friends of BHF. They have shared many teachings with us over the years. We are very proud of all those who took part, strengthening themselves through ceremony and acting as role models to the community.

How should addictions treatment programs approach the issue of cigarettes? There are varying opinions in the field as to whether and when those addicted to other substances should also address nicotine addiction. We do know that cigarette use is much higher amongst adults who enter addictions treatment than in the general population. And of course we all know cigarettes pose serious risks to anyone’s physical health. Currently, BHF allows cigarette smoking on-site in outdoor designated areas while also providing information and support for staff and residents who want to quit. For the past several months, the BHF Smoking Cessation group has been meeting regularly, with approximately twenty staff and resident members participating. Topics addressed to date include the addictive properties of cigarettes, reasons people started smoking, reasons for wanting to quit, roadblocks to quitting and strategies for overcoming them. Members are now setting SMART goals and interventions for reduction or elimination of cigarette smoking and will be engaging in group activities to build support and solidarity for one another as they strive to meet their goals.

Healthy leisure activities are an important part of therapeutic community life. BHF members have been busy throughout the summer, helping out at the St. Norbert Farmer’s Market, organizing weekend baseball games, going for walks and bike rides around the neighbourhood, packing a picnic and enjoying a day at St. Malo beach. Families also make good use of the local splash pad – the kids never tire of it and on hot summer days parents are happy to be there too.

Women at BHF have had the opportunity to participate in a 10 week yoga program led by Richelle Ready of Bloom Yoga. The women meet Tuesday mornings and practice yoga poses, breath work and meditation with a goal to developing compassion, kindness and healing.

Therapeutic communities are about teaching and learning, and this applies to staff as well as resident members. Two staff at the BHF Daycare recently graduated from Red River College, earning their Early Childhood Education diplomas through the workplace program. Congratulations, Rachel Neufeld and Kari Cook!

This summer BHF also staff participated in the Hearing Voices workshops at the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society as well as on-site workshops on Understanding FASD and Suicide Prevention and Intervention.

In the past few months we have welcomed several new staff to the therapeutic community, and with an open-ended length of stay we welcome new treatment participants virtually every week. But there are a handful of dedicated people who have been part of BHF for noteworthy lengths of time. They help create stability in the organization; they contribute valuable experience; they are part of the very fabric of the organization. Earlier this summer, Cyril Fontaine reached the landmark of 30 years of service. Cyril first came to BHF (then known as the St. Norbert Foundation) through the provincial New Careers program. Since then he has fulfilled numerous roles, from Youth Support Worker to Senior Youth Treatment Worker to Unit Coordinator. He is currently an Outreach Worker at BHF’s River Point Centre office in the Point Douglas neighbourhood. Cyril’s patience, humour and experience are great assets working with people who are considering entering treatment as well as those seeking post-treatment support. Congratulations, Cyril!