From left: Current Northern Women’s Recovery House Society board members Annette Rolleman, Valerie Wright and Blaine Stensgaard. Louisa Gray is absent. (File Photo)

Northern Women’s Recovery House Society calls for public engagement

Society aims to plans to bring the first women’s recovery house to northern B.C.

A Terrace society is hoping to bring the first women’s recovery house to northern B.C., but COVID-19 is adding to the challenge.

“We just really want to reengage the public as the province reopens. We’re just trying to reengage our own community to remember this initiative that people were very interested in,” said Adrianne Davidson, Northern Women’s Recovery House Society secretary.

“We’d like to continue with board development, research and fundraising and then ultimately working towards the goal of actually obtaining a property.”

The society formed in Sept. 2018 after recognizing the need to provide a safe, sober place for women returning from treatment centres. There is a men’s recovery house in Prince Rupert, but no equivalent for women in the northwest.

Davidson said that a potential women’s recovery house could be located anywhere in the region and would aim to provide care similar to recovery houses in the southern part of the province.

“In Vancouver they’ve got them and you can receive counselling, attend support groups and further your recovery towards sobriety, so overcoming addiction,” said Davidson.

Northern Health said in an email it has contracts with a “variety of partners to provide supportive recovery beds: four in Kitimat, six in Terrace, six in Prince Rupert and two in Masset.”

According to a BC Coroners Service report released May 27, the rate of illicit drug toxicity deaths in northern B.C. is 28 deaths per 100 thousand people – the highest per capita rate in the province.

The Northern Women’s Recovery House Society has applied to become a registered charity but is waiting to find out if they are accepted. Davidson said that the society is in the process of looking at the feasibility of purchasing or building a house with an eight to 10 bed capacity.

Currently, the society has four board members but two of them are resigning. The society is looking to at least replace the departing board members. Davidson said that ideally the society would add four new board members to bring the total to six.

The society is holding a virtual annual general meeting on June 23, where board members will be selected. More information will be available closer to the date.

COVID-19 has complicated the push for a women’s recovery house because many fundraising events can’t happen with physical distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions.

Davidson said that during times of crisis people do not focus as much on community initiatives.

“We are really looking for more involvement from the community currently, I think that’s really been the big thing with COVID is that people have been really hyper-focused on looking internally, obviously worried about the pandemic,” said Davidson.

“I think a lot of community organizations like ourselves maybe have been pushed to the wayside because when people go into crisis and an emergency is declared, a lot of focus is on the family and individuals and not so much about community.”

The COVID-19 pandemic may also be contibuting to increased alcohol consumption. A Nanos poll commissioned by the Canadian Centre on Substnce Use and Addiction found that 21 per cent of Canadians aged 18-34 and 25 percent aged 35-54 say they have increased alcohol consumption since they began practicing self-isolation and physical distancing.

READ MORE: New society forms to propose recovery home for women in Terrace


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