HEALING THROUGH HORSES
The Frog Lake First Nations’ Children & Family, Intervention and Prevention Horse Healing Centre (abbreviated as “the Centre” on this page) harnesses the healing outcomes of horses for both prevention and intervention. A thoughtful response to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal 41, this project creates a space that empowers this Indigenous community with the resources it needs to foster family reunification and healing, and to break intergenerational trauma. Indigenous values and sustainable design elegantly weave together, creating a holistic space for the surrounding communities to foster healing.
The Centre consists of many components; these include the Centre itself, a veterinary/quarantine stall and machine shed, a hay, straw and shaving shed, and six reunification homes. Its supportive landscape design includes an outdoor riding arena, ceremonial grounds, a Legacy Stone Circle, healing gardens, a fire lagoon, and many walking and horseback riding trails.
The Centre will operate year-round as a remedial space that aids community healing and education, and supports family reunification. The project weaves together Indigenous spiritual horse healing with Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT)/Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) to facilitate a healing exchange between horses and humans. All programme elements, from mental health services, social services, wellness courts, victim services, education and training facilities, to community spaces for spiritual and cultural activities, include a horse-human connection.
This project is imbued with a specificity of place and it is embedded in local geography, culture and spirituality. The building’s form dissolves the barrier between inside and outside and suggests oneness; horses bridge the gap by bringing soil, straw and hay indoors. Designed for the integration of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self and the collective, the space is also deeply rooted in Indigenous culture. Its design draws parallels between ribbons (an important theme to the community, used in dancing and spiritual expressions) and the movements of horses’ manes and tails, which can all be considered as extensions of bodies. In all ways, the space celebrates horse-human connection and healing and self expression through movement.
This project builds advocacy in the community and empowers families to bring children home as the community acquires new skills, heals, and reconnects its people with their culture. It offers multiple cultural facilities shaped by Elders, such as the historical and contemporary living museum, and both indoor and outdoor ceremonial spaces.
ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
The project empowers Frog Lake First Nations, supporting them on their path to self-sufficiency using the principles of circular economy. Horse manure is collected and recycled as fertiliser for the community’s agricultural pursuits, while solar and geothermal technologies help the Centre to generate its own resources and target net-zero and carbon-neutral status. Recessed into the land to align with its topography and to harvest rainwater, it works with, not against, its environment. No trees will be removed from the site, and only native species will be planted on site.
This facility also creates jobs for the community. Local staff will manage the building, and its educational programme will facilitate training for various career paths.