MCA seeks new location for Healing Centre

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By Nick Seebruch
MCA seeks new location for Healing Centre
The Akwesasne Healing Centre sign outside of the Care Centre on Wednesday, February 2, 2022 (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) has confirmed to Seaway News that they will not be moving forward with their planned Healing Centre at 510 Second St. E., in Cornwall, also known as the former Cornwall General Hospital and currently known as the Care Centre.

“The ongoing dispute between the City of Cornwall and the owner of 510 Second St. has resulted in continued issues with permits and zoning that are out of our control. We are actively seeking a new location for the Akwesasne Healing Centre and are continuing to prioritize this project in order to meet the needs of our homeless population,” reads a statement from MCA Grand Chief Abram Benedict to Seaway News.

The former Cornwall General Hospital was purchased by Dan Orr and Matthew Cinnamon in 2014, who then renamed the site the Care Centre and began marketing it as a residence for seniors or those who prefer group living accommodations.

Cornwall Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Maureen Adams explained that while she could not comment on the specifics behind the dispute between the City and the Care Centre, she did state that from the City’s perspective, there were areas where the Care Centre was not meeting certain standards required for its current use.

“Whatever they are using the building for from an occupancy perspective, they need to meet certain standards required for that occupancy,” Adams told Seaway News.

In the summer of 2020, heat and hot water service to the Care Centre was disrupted due to a dispute between the owners and Cornwall District Heating (CDH). On that occasion, the City of Cornwall posted notices outside of the Care Centre warning the estimated 45 residents of the pending shut off. The owners eventually reached an agreement with CDH to restore heat and hot water.

In July of 2021, Seaway News toured the MCA Healing Centre which was occupying the first floor of the Care Centre. The 11-room shelter would have had 24/7 staff, education and physical activity areas, onsite counselling, and much more. The services would have been to support those struggling with issues such as addictions, mental health, and homelessness.

Chief Benedict in his statement to Seaway News said that he hoped to continue the Healing Centre project at a new location.

“We continue to take calls requesting services from the Akwesasne Healing Centre and we have an active waiting list,” Benedict’s statement reads. “Addictions, treatment and mental health support are significant needs for youth and adults in and around Akwesasne. The Akwesasne Healing Centre will give us a two-pronged approach to assisting the community. First, we will be able to assist Akwesasne community members residing in S. D. G. & A in getting off the street. Second, we will be able to stabilize and assess mental health and addiction needs of those staying at the Healing Centre and get them properly referred.”

“We are challenged by the loss of our initial location but we are anxious to move ahead with a new location,” he concluded.

Seaway News reached out to the Care Centre for comment, but has not heard back as of the time of publication.

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