Alberta police investigating alleged sexual harassment complaints at Poundmaker’s Lodge

Poundmaker’s is one of six southern facilities residents are sent to for treatment, but the only one with a focus on Indigenous healing.

(Image retrieved from Poundmaker's Lodge Facebook page)

Two complaints of inappropriate sexual behaviour at Poundmaker’s Lodge are currently being investigated by police.

Poundmaker’s is one of the facilities the territorial government sends NWT residents to for alcohol and drug treatment. The centre is located in St. Albert, Alta.

“We are aware of the allegations against Poundmaker’s and have followed up as soon as we received information,” says Damien Healy, spokesperson for the department of Health and Social Services.

The first complaint, as reported by CTV Edmonton, is against an Elder employed by the lodge. Patty Piche is the sister of a former client. In late November, Piche posted her sister’s allegations against the Elder to Facebook. The Elder is no longer working at the lodge.

Healy says the department has followed up with NWT residents currently at Poundmaker’s.

“All have confirmed their intention to continue treatment,” he says.

Healy did not say whether the department had ever received complaints about the lodge before but it “encouraged clients to bring any complaints forward to the appropriate channels.”

Poundmaker’s response

APTN News reported a second separate complaint being investigated by Edmonton Police Services. This complaint is against a former counsellor.

Both CTV and APTN have quoted several former clients with various accusations against the Elder.

The lodge responded to the allegations in its own post.

Referring to Piche’s first post, Poundmaker’s says it “made false accusations against Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres and included allegations the staff failed to properly investigate this matter, attempted to prevent an investigation, and failed to have proper policies and protocol in place… We take all concerns seriously and ensure prompt appropriate action is taken; we take pride in supporting those we serve…. In consultation with Protection for Persons in Care Act, this department had no recommendations over and above the actions already taken by the organization in this investigation.”

Two weeks later, it published another post acknowledging the investigations.

“We will continue to do our due diligence with supporting the investigation… Our primary focus continues to be the wellbeing of our clients. We have no further comment at this time.”

No charges have been laid against either man.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.