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 Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Green Point Campground saw an unprecedented flurry of reservations last week. (Pacific Rim National Park Reserve photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s campground sees ‘unprecedented’ interest as reservations open

Green Point Campground is scheduled to open from May 1 – Oct. 12 this year.

Kale is a classic in West Coast gardens.
COLUMN: Kale reigns supreme in West Coast gardens

In Tofino and Ucluelet, kale is a classic.

(B.C. Government photo)
POLL QUESTION: Are you in favour of B.C.’s three-week ban on in-restaurant dining?

Dr. Bonnie Henry called the three week stoppage a “circuit breaker”

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Theatre manager Sophie L’Homme is ecstatic to share the news that Tofino’s aging Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre is finally getting upgrades. (Nora O’Malley photo)
BC Arts grant funding breathes new life into Tofino’s community theatre

“Once it’s done, it’s going to be a pride of the town.”

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read