Land secured for Askiy Healing Lodge in Ile-a-la Crosse

Submitted photo. Much is coming into place for Taylar Belanger, who has spent much time visioning and bringing together a healing lodge in Ile-a-la-Crosse.

Taylar Belanger, director of operations for the Askîy Healing Lodge, announced the lease of 17 acres of land, which will become the home of a new healing lodge.

Work is slated to begin on the construction of a road into the site in the spring, Belanger said in an interview with the Northern Advocate.

She signed a five-year lease agreement with the Northern Village of Ile-a-la Crosse in February. The agreement came into place March 1.

“It’s been a long time coming and a few years in the making, so everything is finally coming together. A lot of good things are happening now; still a lot of work,” Belanger said.

“A really important part of doing a project like this is collaborating, right…. The land is now leased for the healing lodge … it’s a formal agreement, now.”

Her next step – building a gravel road into the site of the healing lodge, which she plans to get underway, starting with the road in the spring months once the land dries.

Belanger started the healing lodge initiative in response to “youth suicides in the north, lack of Indigenous led mental health resources, and a vision of providing access to elders, traditional healers, and knowledge keepers. 

She developed this project over the past years herself.

Belanger completed Holistic Health and Wellness coaching, as well a Practical Herbalist Diploma and Tradition Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner training.

Her vision for the centre is to bring alternative healing, medicine and traditional ceremonial practices to the community and northwestern Saskatchewan.

She undertook following an alternative healing path to give her community options. and plans to continue to offer options to people in her community “to integrate Indigenous ways of healing to our healthcare system” because They’re (people) only given one option of healing. [this] is providing another way … that might be a little bit more comfortable for them … so they can go hand-in-hand with traditional medicine and Western.”

Belanger said she hopes to introduce many alternatives as resources become available, such as healing gatherings, sharing circles under an elders guidance, cultural teachings, healing practices, wellness activities, a mentorship program, life skills and addictions workshops, trauma work including Residential School  trauma workshops, sharing history with learning the impacts of colonisation and residential schools, inner child skills workshops, cross cultural awareness, survival skills, learning about medicines and how to harvest them and more.

She also plans to move into traditional healing through ceremonies such as child naming and other Rights of Passage ceremonies.

And one day to offer detox and nutrition residential options.

Belanger created Askîy Healing Lodge Inc. working with elders. She created a board to steer the agency with; Dr. Herman Michell PhD, an elder, educator, writer and Indigenous knowledge keeper former director of the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP), who filled the role of visionary and advisor during the process of creating the agency.

The other board members are: Calla Gordon, who represents the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Elder Maria Favel, who is a committed elder, with knowledge and skills in land-based learning and parenting.

Soon they will be hauling materials in for the creation of a road and building the much-awaited Askîy Healing Lodge.