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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Raising more than $1,300 for the KVHS’s dementia home project, Dennis and Brenda Horwood leave Kitimat with a bang and start their new retirement journey together. (Photo supplied)
KVHS thanks local Kitimat couple for their contributions to the dementia home project

Dennis and Brenda Horwood raise $1,360 during a retirement garage sale

No increase in fees will be made by the leisure services department in the summer months. Reviews will be made again in May/June for any recommended fee adjustments in the fall. (District of Kitimat photo)
District of Kitimat halt leisure fee increases until the fall

The Leisure Services Advisory Commission recommended no increase take place at this time

Mount Elizabeth Theatre have been approved for a provision of funding by city council for up to $42,000. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat’s multi-use theatre grant request approved for live streaming equipment

A funding commitment of up to $42,000 was granted from council to the Mount Elizabeth Theatre

Tracy Owen-Best with her husband, Larry Best. Tracy runs both the Nechako Barbershop and Hair Essentials Salon in Kitimat. Diagnosed with cancer in March 2020, she’s kept a positive mindset with the help from a supportive family. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Tracy Owen-Best

Barbershop owner and cancer fighter keeps it positive

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read