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Foundry being forged in Burns Lake

Youth services centre transforming old SD91 site

The old School District 91 bus shop in Burns Lake is about to go back into service for young people.

It has been confirmed that Carrier Sekani Family Services has purchased the land and intends to build a facility that will be home to a Foundry location for Burns Lake.

Foundry facilities are youth centres for health, wellness, healing and development. There are 14 of them across the province, only two of which are in northern B.C. One is in Terrace, one in Prince George.

“Thanks to the commitment of the Foundry Burns Lake team, and specifically lead agency Carrier Sekani Family Services, the site location for Foundry Burns Lake has been acquired,” said Dr. Steve Mathias, executive director of Foundry Central Office. “We’re excited to continue to work with the Foundry Burns Lake team to open the centre and support young people in Burns Lake and those who care for them to have access to health and wellness services.”

Carrier Sekani Family Service’s (CSFS) board president, Cheslatta Carrier Nation’s Chief Corrina Leween, said the implementation of the foundry comes as a result of major networking and partnering between leadership interests in the Burns Lake community, especially those involved in youth care. She cited School District 91, the Ministry of Children & Family Development, Northern Health, the Village of Burns Lake, Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Nee Tahi Buhn Band, Cheslatta Carrier Nation, Skin Tyee Nation, Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation and Lake Babine Nation.

“We believe that foundry, as a network of community-based health and social services for young people, is well suited to the unique geographic, economic and demographic needs of Burns Lake – and we are thrilled to be building this new facility to help the young people of this region thrive,” said Leween.

Passersby can already clearly see that the structure at 686 McPhail Road, across from Burns Lake Band office, is undergoing a transformation. Demolition of the extraneous old shell is well underway.

Construction, though, is another matter.

“The visibility, accessibility and proximity of the location to the high school make it an ideal location to support youth,” said CFIS, but getting past the design phase is unfunded. Just as important as the preliminary work to acquire the site and green-light the project is the fundraising campaign now underway. An estimated $4.1-million is needed.

Well actually, a bit less than that, thanks to some kickoff contributions. Coastal Gas already provided $5,000 to the initiative, used to engage youth in creative ways such as a volleyball camp in Burns Lake. Likewise, Michels Canada provided $2,000 in recognition of the foundry capital campaign.

The first major donation comes from Hampton Lumber’s Babine Forest Products and Decker Lake Forest Products. That donation is $250,000.

“We are so pleased to be able to contribute to the early development of this important facility,” said Steve Zika, CEO of Hampton Lumber. “We take great pride in being part of the Burns Lake community and understand how important it is for youth to access convenient and culturally relevant health resources and support.”

Sahari Architects is involved in the next steps of development. A land blessing is in the planning stages, and groundbreaking is anticipated to be in 2023.

Foundry Burns Lake will provide all youth, aged 12-24, along with their families, free and confidential age-friendly, culturally relevant and supportive, wellness and substance-use service for their unique needs.