Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for a safe house at Lake Babine Nation’s Woyenne reserve. Pictured left to right are Rod Hill of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief Corrina Leween — who is also president of Carrier Sekani Family Services — Chief Wilf Adam of Lake Babine Nation and Burns Lake Mayor Chris Beach.

Refuge to house Indigenous women fleeing abuse

Safe house being constructed at Lake Babine Nation

Indigenous women and children fleeing violence on the Highway of Tears are expected to have access to a new shelter by early next year.

On May 25, a ceremony featuring traditional drummers took place at the planned construction site, on Lake Babine Nation’s (LBN) Woyenne reserve in Burns Lake, where dignitaries placed shovels in the ground to mark the beginning of the project.

The planned facility is meant to serve as temporary housing, with seven units housing up to 23 women and children who identify as First Nations.

Mabel Louie, director of health services for Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) — the Prince George-based organization that’s partnering with LBN to build the shelter — recalled how a shelter became indispensable for a loved one fleeing violence.

“They made sure she was safe, made sure the children were safe,” said Louie. The safe house, which also provided counselling and other services, probably saved that woman’s life, she said.

Addictions services, counselling

“Our goal is the safety of the victims and their families,” said LBN Chief Wilf Adam.

Adam noted that treatment will be available for people with addictions, along with preventative services to keep people from falling into cycles of drug or alcohol abuse.

CSFS said the facility will feature programming specific to the Carrier people. “Services will empower women to live healthy lives and build healthy relationships and circles of support,” according to the CSFS.

Safe houses stigmatized

Adam told the Lakes District News that stigma around people who may occupy safe houses resulted in some resistance to hosting the shelter locally.

But he said those concerns aren’t warranted, and that similar facilities are “the safest places around” and often impossible to distinguish from the surrounding homes. He added that the facility will have 24-hour security.

CSFS said in a statement that the facility will have an unlisted address and phone number and will be ringed by fencing with secured access, along with security cameras.

Indigenous-owned and operated

CSFS obtained $1.89 million in federal money from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for the safe house. LBN will hold the mortgage, which will be gradually paid for by CSFS, said Adam.

Ultimately, LBN will hold the assets, making it a First Nations owned and operated facility. The building is expected to open next spring.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read