Burns Lake hasn’t had a facility where people could go to find resources and support after returning from drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs elsewhere. According to local counsellors with Lake Babine Nation (LBN), this has been real stumbling block to effective recovery.
“We send people away for treatment, but if they return [to Burns Lake] and there’s no support, then relapse is inevitable,” said Ron Blinn, adult mental health counsellor with the LBN wellness team.
An opportunity to break this cycle of rehabilitation and relapse has come to Burns Lake with the recent opening of the New Vision Recovery Centre located on LBN reserve lands in Burns Lake.
As a concept, the New Vision Recovery Centre got off the ground in October 2012. By the end of June this year, it opened it’s doors. A grand opening celebration and traditional ceremonies were held on Sept. 13.
“I’m glad this centre is here,” said LBN Chief Wilf Adam. “Our goal is to assist our citizens to get help with addictions to drugs and alcohol. It’s also a preventative measure that we can assist in helping the citizens avoid getting into addiction in the first place.”
The New Vision centre occupies a recently renovated house on the corner of Tsa Street. A wheel chair access ramp leads to a large deck and sliding doors opening into a spacious and welcoming foyer.
The interior was renovated to reflect the building’s new use as a recovery resource centre, with offices for support staff, a large boardroom with a conference table and seating for many.
Most of the interior renovations were done by local community members, and drop-in users of the facility.
Two televisions, one a large flat-screen made possible by a $1000 donation from Northern Health, a fully equipped kitchen, showers and laundry facilities will help make New Vision a second home for many.
A older gentleman from Hazelton spoke of his struggle with addiction during the grand opening ceremonies. He said that the centre had been crucial to his recovery from addiction.
He said that he was welcomed into the facility where he was able to eat a hot meal, and use the shower and laundry facilities. It might not have seemed like much, but for him made all the difference.
“This place has felt more like a home than anywhere I’ve lived,” he said.
A safe and secure place where people in need can find stability is how centre staff describe the rationale behind the facility.
“This is here for the community,” said Herbert William, drug and alcohol counsellor for Lake Babine Nation. “People from the whole community can come here for one-on-one counselling.”
The centre is a day-use only facility where people can come to find stability and counselling during the day, before or after addiction rehabilitation treatment away from Burns Lake.
The centre might help some avoid the need to go away for rehabilitation by giving people a place to go for assistance before the onset of a crisis, especially men.
William pointed out that traditionally there haven’t been many resources for men in Burns Lake.
“Women have the Elizabeth Fry society,” William said. “But men have had nowhere to go until now.”
Cindy MacDonald, LBN community engagement HUB coordinator, said the facility relies primarily on the LBN health and social development departments for ongoing funding.
Northern Health will help with some programs and time to time cash donations, like the $1000 for the television purchase and another $2000 donated on opening day.
“We have an open door policy,” MacDonald said. “We will never turn away anyone that needs support.”
If a person is hoping to talk to a counsellor, he or she should call first to make an appointment.
The centre is open Mondays 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., Tuesday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. An appointment can be made to speak with a counsellor at 250-692-3558.