Our History

Over Two Decades of Experience in Drug and Alcohol Addictions Treatment

The Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) is proud to host this facility, located on the banks of Footprint Lake. The origins of Nelson House Medicine Lodge go back to 1981 when NCN Chief and Council first identified the need for such a facility. The community wanted an inpatient health facility to combat alcohol and drug abuse.

Nelson House Medicine Lodge was established in August 1989 to meet a growing need for a counselling and addictions treatment facility in northern Manitoba. In 1992, CIRCA local National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) prevention program was added to compliment the range of services.


While there were other existing facilities, the Medicine Lodge was the first alcohol and drug treatment facility in northern Manitoba with programs specifically designed for aboriginal people, by aboriginal people. Its aim was to tackle addictions from an indigenous perspective.

Demands Increase for Treatment Facility

With the establishment of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation in 1998, demand for the Medicine Lodge’s culture-oriented programs continued to grow. By 2002, the Medicine Lodge was redesigned to expand its facility to meet the growing demand for services.

Joint Efforts and Vision are the Foundation for the Nelson House Medicine Lodge

The combined efforts eventually led to the construction of the Nelson House Medicine Lodge and have since served northern Manitoba peoples and individuals from across Canada and the continent.

Negotiations soon began with Keewatin Tribal Council and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimaka Inc. (MKO). Together these three organizations began the long task of feasibility studies and finding funds and resources. The study found that Indigenous peoples within the MKO region had the highest addiction rates in Manitoba at that time. The study clearly demonstrated the need for such a facility.