Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) is taking the next steps to build a healing and treatment centre, after recently acquiring a property located at Tachick Lake on the traditional territory of the Saik’uz First Nation.
According to a recent press release by CSFS on Aug. 31, the focus is now on fundraising for the remaining funds needed to begin construction of the facility and then moving on to the design phase of the construction process.
An increasingly toxic drug supply, combined with the harms of historical and present-day colonialism, has led to Indigenous people dying from toxic drugs at a much higher rate compared to other B.C. residents. In 2020, 14.7 per cent of all toxic drug deaths in B.C. were Indigenous people – a group that represents only 3.3 per cent of B.C.’s total population. This issue highlights a profound need for health and wellness services and recovery support. With the eventual development of the health and treatment centre, CSFS hopes to expand its addictions and recovery program from a seasonal service to an all-year round service.
Less than $6 million has been committed to date by the First Nations Health Authority. The costs for a comprehensive healing center is estimated at $16 million and CSFS has been in discussions with the federal government, provincial government and the First Nations Health Authority to respond to this need.
Lakes District News spoke to CSFS Representative Andrea Palmer, who said that CSFS had initially been asked to wait for April 19, 2021 budget announcement for additional/full funding details, but those details were not included in the announcement.
“CSFS is discouraged that the budget was announced and that the federal election was called before CSFS received a reply,” said Palmer.
Subsequently, CSFS has experienced consistent delays from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) administration on confirmation of any decision on funding support, despite zoom meetings, correspondence, telephone calls and emails.
According to Palmer, CSFS continues to also seek alternative funding. “We are continuing our conversations with provincial and federal government representatives, with optimism that a positive resolution will be reached.”
In the CSFS press release, Board President Chief Corrina Leween outlined her frustration with the lack of financial commitment from both levels of government. “CSFS had provided the government with data on the opioid and mental health crisis; instead CSFS was told to wait for the completion of government budget estimates,” said Chief Leween. “Now, CSFS is caught up in a federal election. It’s a further annoyance that governments commit billions to public infrastructure, yet will not invest in Indigenous health facilities.”
CSFS states in their release that they serve a predominantly Indigenous clientele from local Carrier and Sekani Nations and that this project is crucial to removing barriers to health services and making progress toward fundamental objectives of improved health and well being for Indigenous peoples.
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