Dakota Tipi First Nation has many great plans coming up and plenty of good news for its community members for the time being, as well. They held a showcase last Wednesday at their Wellness Centre displaying everything available to residents. 

Diane Thiessen is a Wellness Counsellor and works with the mental health aspect of a government program called Jordan's Principle. She outlines what her department is offering. 

"I provide services to the youth that are accessing programs through Jordan's Principle and I also help women in the community. This is my 20th year as a counsellor, so obviously, I love what I do. It's been a different experience working for Dakota Tipi. I've learned new ways, learning the culture, and just seeing what services are needed here that weren't currently provided."

Diane ThiessenDiane Thiessen

She notes the people are appreciative of what they provide.

"It's a small community. It's very close to Portage, but there are barriers to getting to Portage and accessing services. Having the Health Centre right here, having Wellness, and having nursing, is just accessible to them. I really enjoy working with the community, working with the women, and the youth that are here." 

Rina Tomashewsky is an assistant case manager for Jordan's Principle and explains this program is a child's initiative. 

"We help all First Nations children to ensure their needs are met when they need access to medical -- basically, anything back-to-basics. It covers clothing, food security, education, doctor visits, and appointments."

Rina TomashewskyRina Tomashewsky

She notes she started with the program at the reserve six years ago, but adds Jordan's Principle has been in effect since 2007.

"It's a good program. You get to meet families every day; it's 100 per cent useful to the families here."

Scott Thorsteinson, the Assistant Health Director, works with land-based programming and adds food security is another aspect they're working on, noting it's vital in a community like Dakota Tipi.

"We're trying to establish a food security program that's going to meet the needs of not only our community, but other communities, too. We want to be a central hub where we bring the food and we can distribute it to Dakota Plains, and Long Plain, but here to begin with. We're building that capacity by putting in a walk-in freezer, a walk-in fridge, and some storage space. We can bring the food here, centralize it, and disperse it from here. We're working with collaterals like Second Harvest, building rapports and relationships with McCain, Simplot, and Sobeys. We already have an account with Pratts (wholesale foods). Whatever we don't get donated,  we can provide our own. We hand it out on an as-needed basis. What we're envisioning is almost like a supermarket. You go in, you get what you need."

He adds they've been also working for over a year to build a Jordan's Principle facility in the community, and they'd like to break ground this year if possible.

They plan on having health services in the Wellness Centre, and the new structure, which includes Jordan's Principle offices, and would also house children's programming. 

Thorsteinson adds a huge part of their plans includes centralizing Dakota knowledge with a focus on language, traditions, and ceremonies, and eventually seeing everyone speak the Dakota language. 

PortageOnline will keep you updated on further developments as they occur at Dakota Tipi.