The Haisla Nation Council has taken another step towards ensuring the stability of social services ahead of the influx of people associated with the massive industrial development in Kitimat.
It has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Tamitik Status of Women (TSW), paving the way for increased programming and paid staff members for the organization, as well as training and work opportunities for Haisla members currently providing social services and those studying towards a career in social services.
Haisla chief councillor Crystal Smith said while the HNC wanted to provide additional services for its members, it didn’t want to duplicate existing services.
“The HNC wanted to enhance TSW’s services throughout the region. This is part of council’s ongoing commitment to reach out to other organizations that serve our members, to enhance those resources,” said Smith.
She said the idea for closer collaboration came about after former deputy chief councillor Brenda Duncan attended a TSW open house in 2017 and heard about the challenges the organization was facing.
“Brenda heard discussions about space constraints that the organization was facing. We felt we needed to do something to assist programs and services that our members use. As a result, we decided to pursue establishing a relationship with TSW,” said Smith.
The work on an agreement began in earnest after the June 2017 elections which saw her being appointed chief councillor. She had been acting chief councillor after taking over from Ellis Ross after he announced his candidacy for the Skeena MLA in December 2016.
“The key factor at the time was also the experience TSW could offer Haisla members in the field, the opportunity to gain experience through internships,” said Smith.
She added that having Haisla members working at TSW also brings cultural relevance to the organization, helping staff to appreciate the intricacies of the Haisla culture and working with Haisla members.
Through the MOU the Haisla Nation Council will support paid positions within TSW.
“We currently financially support the free store to ensure programming is delivered in a manner that befits the community,” said Smith.
The Haisla Nation Council was instrumental in securing an agreement from the provincial government in support of TSW’s proposal for the contentious facility on Quatsino Blvd.
“We need to be proactive, not reactive. This type of collaboration is necessary to help the most vulnerable at a time when they’re going to be needing it most,” said Smith.