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Carrier Sekani breaks ground on detox and healing centre

The $40 million facility near Vanderhoof is expected to be completed by 2025

Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) has broken ground for its planned detox and addictions treatment facility in northwest B.C. with a ceremony June 12.

Construction of Tachick Lake Healing Centre, located on the traditional territory of Saik’uz First Nation (southwest of Vanderhoof), is estimated to be completed within two years and the centre is expected to be open by spring 2025.

The facility will provide a 10-bed medical detox program and a 36-bed, year-round residential treatment program that uses both First Nations’ traditional healing and cultural components and Western treatment modalities.

In addition to the medical detox facilities and residential spaces, land-based healing spaces such as greenhouses, gardens, smokehouses, an outdoor kitchen and a workshop to use as multipurpose spaces for activities such as carving or yoga.

The construction cost of the Tachick Lake Healing Centre is approximately $40 million, said CSFS and is jointly funded by the First Nations Health Authority, the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada.

“The Healing Centre will provide health and treatment based on sound practises including cultural, spiritual, social and science-based medical treatments,” said Warner Adam, CEO of Carrier Sekani Family Services.

“Our vision is to be a centre of excellence for Indigenous health and wellness and demonstrate our ability to work with all partners to ensure that our people have the supports needed to regain their dignity and a solid path forward for healing,” Warner said in a statement.

The program is built upon the concept of “land-based healing,” which refers to a way of using culture on traditional lands to promote wellness and healing.

“For this reason, it is important that our residential treatment centre, and the healing activities our program does in communities, is based on the land,” Warner continued. “The location of our treatment centre is therefore vitally important to our program’s structure.”

CSFS said it has already commenced hiring trained staff, including physicians, nurses, allied support staff, cultural support staff, and various positions needed to operate the new facility.

With the opioid crisis in B.C. causing death among Indigenous people in disproportionate numbers, the healing centre is a welcome addition to several First Nation communities in the remote and rural areas of northwest B.C.

“While First Nations people are resilient in countering the historical effects of colonization, today’s environmental hazards have compounded the social, health and economic problems in our communities,” said Corrina Leween, Chief of Cheslatta Carrier First Nation and Carrier Sekani Family Services’ board president.

“It is our vision that the Tachick Lake Healing Centre will be a catalyst for change – and highlight how many more resources are required for community-based supports, including ongoing counselling, housing and employment training, if we are to make meaningful changes,” Leween added.

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