L to R: Saik’uz First Nation Coun. Jasmine Thomas and Chief Priscilla Mueller (Aman Parhar - Omineca Express)

L to R: Saik’uz First Nation Coun. Jasmine Thomas and Chief Priscilla Mueller (Aman Parhar - Omineca Express)

Northern B.C. addiction treatment centre not off the table yet, says First Nations

Culturally appropriate centre much needed in B.C.’s north

Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) and its members are not giving up fulfilling their vision of building an addiction treatment center in Northern B.C.

Saik’uz First Nation Chief Priscilla Mueller said they were disappointed to recently learn of the provincial Agricultural Land Commission rejecting their proposal to build an addictions treatment centre on ALR land at the existing Tachick Lake Resort near Vanderhoof.

“We have high hopes we are going to open up that facility,” she, however, said.

“People are dying every day because of the opioid crisis, and in our community, we’ve had three or four deaths over the last year and we desperately need this facility to happen.”

Warner Adam, CSFS chief executive officer, believes the independent commission ruling the proposal not suitable for farmland is baffling.

Read More: B.C. addiction treatment centre rejected because it’s on ‘agricultural’ land

He said it has been a dream of many prominent Saik’uz and Carrier Sekani elders who have since passed, to establish a healing centre to undo the impacts of colonialism and residential schools.

If the commission had granted approval, the existing Resort would have been converted into staff housing, and a 25,000 square foot main facility providing up to 60-beds would have been constructed at the cost of $16 million.

CSFS has already secured $5.7 million and is actively seeking additional resources from the provincial and federal governments. Adam said the organization has encountered problems over the years in the north due to the lack of detox beds, where many people lose interest as they are put on a waitlist.

“Evidence suggests that when a person is crying for help, you provide immediate services otherwise they get back into the cycle of addictions,” he added.

For nearly 20 years, CSFS has operated an outpatient addictions treatment program that Adam said is not meeting the needs of their member nations, including Ts’il Kaz Koh (Burns Lake), Takla Lake, Cheslatta Carrier, Yekooche, Nadleh Whut’en, Skin Tyee, Wet’suwet’en, Nee Tahi Buhn, Stellat’en, Lake Babine and Saik’uz First Nations.

CSFS also offers a low-barrier youth drop-in centre in downtown Prince George.

Read More: ‘The opioid crisis impacts all of us’: Cariboo Prince Geroge MP Todd Doherty

Recently, CSFS staff revived a non-breathing youth found outside the centre after several unsuccessful attempts with naloxone spray, Adam recalled. Paramedics arrived shortly after and asked the youth if they wanted to go to the hospital.

“They said no—I’d rather go to treatment, but again there are no detox beds,” Adam said.

“There’s many of those incidents that have probably gone unnoticed.”

Both Adam and Mueller agree that the opioid crisis is worsening due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has fuelled isolation amid an increasingly toxic illicit drug supply.

Adam said the B.C. Government has committed to work with CSFS on developing options and reviewing the decision by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).

“We totally understand the protection of farmland, but they have to be realistic, and hopefully the government looks at their policy with respect to the mandate of the ALC to make sure they’re some diversity within that group.”

Read More: Stigma, isolation, inadequate services blamed for highest opioid death rate in B.C.’s north


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ladysmith Save-On-Foods. (Cole Schisler photo)
$5.4 million in renovations coming for Ladysmith Save-On-Foods

Save-On-Foods would not say when the renovations will begin

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Red dresses to be hung from Ladysmith to Oyster Bay, showing solidarity against racism

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

Volunteers tend to White Rock’s waterfront native plant demonstration garden, during a work party Saturday (May 5). (Contributed photo)
Ready your gardens, the pollinators are coming

By R. Quinlan With the arrival of Spring, this year has more… Continue reading

Bruce Whittington making a founding gift to the Ladysmith Community Foundation Fund, presented to then Nanaimo Foundation Board Chair, Ted Carson. (Submitted photo)
New Ladysmith Community Fund set up to support local charities

The fund will be managed by the Nanaimo Foundation and all funds will remain in Ladysmith

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read