River Lodge (formerly Cottage One)

Submitted on Friday, 01/24/2020 - 2:06 am

nii’htaa moyis


In March  2021, Cottage One changed its name to River Lodge, or nii’htaa moyis in Blackfoot. This program was gifted the name by Casey Eagle Speaker, Hull’s Indigenous Resource Coordinator, through a naming ceremony. The name stems from the Blackfoot culture’s understanding of the word and how it represents the young people and the treatment in the program.
A river symbolizes the young person’s unique journey through their life; at any point, they can step into the river of treatment and healing. Just as in a physical river, the river of treatment will have tumultuous periods of rapids and periods of calm. The riverbanks signify family, staff, natural and professional supports that will guide and support them.
“It is meaningful that all rivers flow towards a larger body of water, which represents the sense of a healthy and safe community that we hope our young people also move towards,” said Misty Brigham, Program Director for River Lodge. “Once rivers reach the ocean, no matter how murky they were, the waters clear.”
“The Blackfoot names are significant in recognizing the ancestral lands of the Blackfoot Confederation that Hull is situated on, as is the city of Calgary,” said Eagle Speaker. “To have Indigenous inclusion is important to create a culturally safe place with humility, to give those we serve a sense of freedom and direction.”

About River Lodge

River Lodge provides services in a therapeutic campus-based treatment facility for special needs youth ages 12 to 17 years with developmental, emotional and behavioural problems. We strive to enhance every youth’s ability to become a contributing member of the community thereby maximizing their potential and improving their quality of life.

River Lodge is an intensive campus-based treatment program that provides clinical interventions for adolescents, both male and female, with mild mental handicap and severe deficits in social competency skills. Diagnostically, these youths present with multiple childhood disorders including: Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder, Learning and Language Disabilities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dissociate Identity Disorder, Social Phobia and Intellectual Disability (borderline intelligence to mild mental handicaps). Treatment practices follow a behavioural-family systems orientation, where social learning methods are used for promoting behaviour change. Social skills are taught with the help of structured motivation systems like the use of point cards, skill checklists and effective praise. There are five main teaching areas:

  • Self-management skills
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making skills
  • Cooperation skills
  • Friendship skills

River Lodge is an 11 bed intensive campus-based treatment program that provides treatment to developmentally delayed adolescents with severe deficits in social competency. Youth admitted to River Lodge often struggle to fit into social settings due to developmental delays, social, emotional and behavioural deficits. Our program provides skill teaching in a structured and predictable environment with an emphasis on improving social skills, emotional regulation and increasing independence. The program also attempts to strengthen family connections where possible, increase community supports and level of involvement, help develop problem solving, decision making abilities and finally increase self-awareness, self-esteem and self-control.

As adolescents with severe competency deficits require broad based treatment interventions, the program provides a range of treatment activities like skills-based teaching of social skills and independent living skills.

When admitted to the program, youth are assessed over a six-week period and counsellors work closely with the youth in order to develop a therapeutic relationship and also get an understanding of the baseline functioning of the youth.

Individualized treatment goals are designed to address problem behaviour. Progress review meetings are conducted every three months where an update is given to all stakeholders.

Psycho-educational groups are provided in order to help develop specific skills like anger management, hygiene and grooming, cooking, building self-esteem, friendship skills, etc., with a focus to help youth generalize these skills to a broader environment. Similarly, families are involved in the treatment process through their participation in progress review meetings, parent information nights, crisis support and in-home work. The program also invites families to participate in conducting recreational activities for youth and attending barbeque nights over the summer.

The program also offers a range of services to youth which include activity and recreational programming, psychiatric consultation, school liaison, psychological assessment, family support, planned community involvement, volunteers, summer recreational programming and work experience. Staffing ratio is three youth to one staff. Typically, four staff work each shift and there is one overnight awake staff.

Discharge readiness is ascertained through on-going behavioural assessment of a youth’s improved functioning in the areas of social skills, independent living skills and emotional regulation. The goals are to get youth ready for transitioning into adulthood or to a lesser intensive setting like a group home or foster care or reunification with family. High Fidelity Wraparound services and family in-home supports are further involved to provide support and assistance to the youth and family.

At River Lodge, youth and families are viewed as valued partners in the treatment process. So, we work towards building on existing strengths and personal resources of each young person. We believe that new skills and abilities can be learned and that meaningful relationships are a key to effective treatment and to future success in the community.

Please note: This program can only be accessed for youth with Children’s Services status and referral by a case worker.

For more information contact