First Nations group working to create a wellness and detox centre in Northwest BC

Joshua Azizi
03/19/2021

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A group of Northwest BC First Nations is working to establish a health, wellness and detox centre in Northwest BC.

The Northern First Nations Alliance recently submitted a statement of readiness to the First Nations Health authority and are hoping to create a feasibility study for the project.

The proposed facility will offer a variety of mental health supports and also provide detox services that can lessen symptoms of withdrawal for anyone seeking to end an addiction.

Although the centre will be open to everyone, it will also include a cultural component to support Indigenous people who access its services.

Kitselas Nation Councillor Lynn Parker says that the current health and wellness programs available in the Northwest right now don't include that cultural component, and that this proposed centre will take a holistic approach to Indigenous health.

"A person will walk in -- a person that is needing help in regards to health and wellness or any of their addictions that they're working with -- and we'll walk them through in a holistic way and also have elders present, clinicians present, counsellors present. It's like a wraparound service for anyone that's needing help."

Gitxaala Nation Councillor Brenna Innes says the inclusion of a detox centre will fill an important gap in Northwest health services.

She pointed out that the nearest detox centre is all the way in Prince George, which creates problems for people trying to quit using substances.

"When a person is ready to access detox, it's just such a small window. There's been stories of people that have made it onto the bus on the way to Prince George, and then there's all those stops being made, and every stop is an opportunity for them to get off and start using again. So it's those constant barriers for them just trying to get to detox."

The alliance is hoping to locate the centre in Terrace, although it wants to wait to wait for the results of the feasibility study before determining the location.

Photo courtesy: Lynn Parker

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