A map of B.C. with existing foundry locations and the upcoming foundry centres showing Burns Lake, Terrace, Williams Lake as some of the new locations. (Official Foundry website photo)

Foundry Youth Centre to come to Burns Lake

Carrier Sekani Family Services to get the centre

Burns Lake will soon be getting a Foundry youth centre with the local support from Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) who will be opening and operating the centre.

An announcement of eight new Foundry centres was made in a press release issued by the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. Each of these centres will be opened and operated by a community-based local organization. Carrier Sekani Family Services will be in charge of the Burns Lake Foundry Centre, the John Howard Society of North Island for Comox Valley, the Ktunaxa-Kinbasket Child and Family Service Society for Cranbrook, Encompass Support Services Society for Langley, Sea to Sky Community Services Society for Squamish, Pacific Community Resources Society for Surrey, North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre Society for Port Hardy and Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre Association for Williams Lake.

The centres provide support to young people aged 12 to 24 with walk-in counselling and referrals. The CSFS Executive Director Travis Holyk said in a CSFS press release that having a centre will allow for safe and non-judgemental services for the youth to access mental health care, substance use services, primary care, social services and youth and family peer supports all in one place.

“The center will provide services to all youth in Burns Lake in a manner that respects the diversity of the community and builds on Burns Lake’s strengths. Having a Foundry center in Burns Lake will build on our holistic strategy for meeting the needs of a large Indigenous population, a transient population with high acuity of disease, as well as limited employment opportunities, mental health concerns and back-log of primary care management,” he said adding that a foundry centre in Burns Lake was the perfect fit, as CSFS and the Foundry shared many of the same approaches to “individualized, integrated health and social services.”

The Burns Lake Foundry becoming a reality took the collaboration of local partners like the village leadership, chief and councils, Northern Health, First Nations Health Authority, Carrier Sekani Family Services, Lakes District Secondary and School District 91, MCFD, RCMP, CNC, Spirit North and youth, who met to develop a plan and submit the prosal, according to Holyk. “This partnership is essential to the Foundry model which provides a range of health and social services all under one roof.”

The Foundry centre coming to Burns Lake is a big step for the village. Mayor Dolores Funk expressed her excitement over it in an email to Lakes District News and remarked that the concept of providing an inviting space, services focusing on wellness and empowering the youth was a place where the youth are more likely to go to, than the traditional offerings. “This project is precisely what is needed in our community to support youth. The Foundry will fill the gap in services available for local young people. This is an exciting step forward for the community, and council fully supports the project,” she said.

The CSFS will be receiving a one-time funding of $700,000 to help with the Burns Lake Centre. However, the location for the centre is yet to be decided. Holyk told Lakes District News that securing a location is oftentimes challenging in some communities and so, “we will need the support of the village in finding a suitable location.”

Holyk mentioned that on an average, it takes one to two years to open a Foundry centre. “This time is spent engaging with youth, families and partners in planning, as well as finding and establishing the physical space. Ideally, the Foundry location will be in proximity to other services such as the school, so that it is accessible by youth. We have to make sure it meets our needs and is viable for a long period of time and there is limited commercial space in the community.”

The centre will also receive $500,000 per year to run the centre once it is open for public.

”As a community that is built on outdoor activity, the physical space of the Burns Lake Foundry will extend beyond its walls to land-based healing, emphasizing the natural landscape of forests, hills — mountain bike and hiking trails, and lakes of the area,” said Holyk.

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