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

The Fraser Valley Bandits chose Brandon University’s Anthony Tsegakele in the first round of the 2021 CEBL Draft. (Submitted)
Fraser Valley Bandits reveal 2021 CEBL Draft choices

Abbotsford-based club selects Quebec’s Anthony Tsegakele in first round

Bat Packs are the newest addition to the FVRL Playground, and have everything you need to learn more about bats, and track them in your neighbourhood. (FVRL image)
Bat Packs at Fraser Valley libraries come with echometer to track bats

Packs are the newest part of the FVRL Playground inventory

Among the items that Dorothy Agnew of Abbotsford received for her recent 100th birthday were gifts from the Abbotsford Police Department and a special cake. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford woman receives more than 600 cards from public for 100th birthday

Dorothy Agnew’s family had made the request to celebrate the occasion on March 18

A drive-by tribute is planned for Abbotsford soccer figure Barry Crocker at Bateman Park on Saturday. (Facebook)
Drive-by farewell planned for Abbotsford soccer figure

Barry Crocker died on April 2, tribute set for Bateman Park on Saturday

Rick Hansen Secondary Students deliver free samosas to students and staff to celebrate Vaisakhi on Tuesday (April 13).
Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen hosts successful ‘Virtual Vaisakhi’

COVID-19 pandemic does not deter enthusiasm for annual festival at local high school

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
WATCH: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

MP Todd Doherty took to Facebook after his family recently received threats. (Todd Doherty, MP Facebook photo)
‘I don’t run and I don’t hide’: Cariboo MP says RCMP probing threats made against family

Todd Doherty has also notified House of Commons Protective Services

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

An unidentified B.C. man said, in a human rights complaint, that he was refused a contract job after refusing to wear a mask when asked to by an on-site manager. (Unsplash)
Religious B.C. man lodges human rights complaint after fired for refusing to wear a mask

Worker’s claim that ‘to cover up our face infringes on our God-given ability to breathe’ dismissed by B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: B.C. car dealer posts clip of thieves towing a truck right off his lot

Video shows one white truck towing another off Vancouver Island lot

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read