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New women's centre to be built on Selkirk Avenue

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WINNIPEG — The face of Selkirk Avenue will change over the next few months with the construction of a six-suite facility to help women battling addictions and facing homelessness.

The transitional centre will be run by the North End Women’s Centre and is being built with $917,640 from Ottawa, the province and city under the Winnipeg Housing and Homelessness Initiative.

It also represents the new way in how the Selinger government will fund addictions treatment, Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau said after Tuesday’s sod-turning event.

Rondeau said people in addictions treatment often relapse, but if supplied with temporary housing and an opportunity to stay clean when out of treatment, the chances of a relapse are reduced.

"You’ll have an intervention," he said. "Not four. What we want to do is deal with it. It may take six months, but you deal with it once."

Similar announcements to yesterday’s event will follow in the coming weeks, he said.

The new facility, which will be built in two storeys on a vacant lot at 386 Selkirk Ave., will house 10 to 12 women who are in recovery each year.

"By providing these women with affordable and safe housing we remove one of the largest barriers they experience and thereby drastically increase their ability to maintain their recovery," said Heather Leeman, executive director of the North End Women’s Centre.

The new building will also be home to the centre’s after-care addictions recovery program for women who’ve completed treatment, but still need help.

"Research shows that the majority of women relapse within the first 90 days after treatment," Leeman said. "These women don’t need to return to treatment, but what they do need is ongoing support in their community."

One of those women is Rosalee Genaille, who described her battle against a painkiller addiction.

Genaille, 39, said her addiction to Tylenol 3 is in check because of the counselling available through the program.

"I always felt alone in my addiction," she said. "I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. Coming to these programs and meeting other women with similar addictions and similar problems, I didn’t feel that way. I felt like I was a part of something and that I was understood."

Genaille said because of the program she’s regained control of her young son Ethan.

"I got my self-esteem back," she said. "When he grows up I want him to be proud of me. I want him to be proud of his mother and say that, ‘My mother is a strong woman. She’s a good woman. She was there for me all my life.’"

Work is to begin on the new transitional centre shortly.

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