AMC Calls on the Province to Appoint an Administrator for Spirit Rising House Amidst Illegal Cannabis Distribution to Vulnerable Youth in Care

February 29, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) is urgently calling on the province to appoint an Administrator for the Spirit Rising House and issue a moratorium on the company and any other accompanying facilities that the owner operates until a fulsome investigation is complete due to the illegal administration of cannabis to vulnerable youth in care.

“The use of unethical harm reduction tactics on vulnerable youth in care is distressing and has resulted in more harm than good in this instance,” says Grand Chief Cathy Merrick, “This decision is unacceptable, and all parties involved in protecting these children should have prevented it.”

Spirit Rising House, a Winnipeg-based for-profit company, manages nine foster homes and two specialized group homes dedicated to the care of 34 high-risk youth under the jurisdiction of the Child and Family Services (CFS) system. Typically, children and youth attending Spirit Rising House are referred to them by CFS. Shockingly, the facility’s management has directed staff to administer cannabis daily to underage high-risk youth in care struggling with addictions to opioids and methamphetamine.

“I am acutely aware that these deliberate decisions will have serious and long-lasting effects on the health and well-being of these young people, and I demand immediate action be taken to rectify the situation,” said Grand Chief Merrick.

The child welfare system in Manitoba faces a critical task in safeguarding the safety and well-being of families, particularly with over 80% of children in care being First Nations. However, this recent practice has exposed youth to more harm by fostering substance dependence rather than delivering age-appropriate wellness services. The AMC asserts that perpetuating substance dependence rather than offering age-appropriate wellness services further endangers First Nations youth.

“We are facing an opioid and methamphetamine crisis here in Manitoba,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “It’s imperative that the provincial government also takes immediate legal actions against this and any other company found providing underage youth with drugs and work with First Nations to develop solutions to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable citizens. We cannot allow for-profit companies to jeopardize the well-being of our youth. I strongly urge the province to conduct a thorough investigation into any financial connections between this company and the cannabis industry and to scrutinize their exploitation of our youth and resources for their ventures.”

The AMC demands accountability for parties involved in the illegal administration of cannabis and unethical harm reduction practices for youth in care.


For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba, with a total of more than 172,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anisininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.