Two addictions staff from Pine Lodge Treatment Centre, both members of CUPE 4670, appeared before the Resort Village of Fort San council in support of the treatment centre and to share their experiences of working at “a place of hope and courage.”
CUPE 4670 has already provided council with a written submission that addressed the concerns of some local residents with the possible relocation of Pine Lodge from Indian Head into their community. Pine Lodge has been without a home since December 24, 2020 when a fire severely damaged their facility. CUPE’s submission included a detailed explanation of the recovery process that clients face while at Pine Lodge, a program that has been recognized as one of the finest in-patient addiction’s treatment centres in western Canada.
Clovel Van Opstal, an addictions attendant at Pine Lodge Treatment Centre for ten years, and Lisa Klatt, an addictions counsellor at Pine Lodge since July, volunteered to speak to the Mayor and council in support of the new treatment facility.
The presentation was upbeat and positive, describing an addiction treatment centre filled with dedicated staff. Van Opstal began by recognizing the efforts of the Mayor and council members for allowing a fair investigation.
“I would like to start by telling you how grateful we are that throughout this process, council has decided to make sure that the views of all sides of this issue have been allowed to be heard,” said Van Opstal.
Van Opstal also acknowledged that she once shared the same concerns of the original facility in Indian Head that many Fort San residents currently have. “Long before I worked at Pine Lodge, I was a resident in Indian Head. I had many concerns about Pine Lodge and was even afraid to walk near the building because I did not know what went on inside, and I believed that anything could happen. It was only when I started working there, that I came to realize that Pine Lodge is a place of healing,” added Van Opstal.
Addictions counsellor Lisa Klatt brought a unique perspective to the presentation. Her first experience with Pine Lodge was as a client, and she bravely shared her own experience with addiction.
“There was a time when I just wanted to die,” said Klatt. “Like many of the clients who come to Pine Lodge for treatment, I was living in darkness. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for Pine Lodge, I would not be alive today.”
In both the written and verbal submissions, CUPE 4670 provided evidence that Saskatchewan is facing an addictions crisis, and treatment centres like Pine Lodge are needed now more than ever.
The goal of CUPE’s presentation was to alleviate any lingering concerns council and the Fort San community may have about allowing Pine Lodge Treatment Centre to relocate its operations to the former Prairie Christian Training Centre (PCTC) in Fort San. CUPE strongly encouraged council to take the necessary steps to approve this move.