Victims of domestic violence in Burns Lake will soon have a new safe house to use in times of crisis.
A grand opening ceremony for the Dzee Ba’yugh Safe House, which means ‘heart house’ in Carrier dialect, was held on Dec. 6, but the shelter won’t be open to the public just yet.
“We are very excited to see this project come to life,” said Cindy Adam, the shelter’s supervisor. “I’m really happy to see the construction finish and see the house looking more homey.
“I can’t wait to open our doors to women and children.”
As of Dec. 5, Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS), which is responsible for the operation of the approximately $2 million shelter, is still in the process of hiring six full-time support workers.
“We’re not actually opening the doors to our residents just yet until we are fully staffed,” Adam said.
Located in Lake Babine Nation’s Woyenne community, adjacent to Burns Lake, the new shelter has six bedrooms and a total of 22 beds.
Through collaboration between CSFS and Lake Babine Nation, the Safe House was one of five shelters across the country to receive funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. It has also received funding from BC Housing and Indigenous Affairs Canada.
The project was expected to be completed in the spring of 2019, but it was delayed due to construction setbacks, said Adam.
“It’s [part of] a long-term vision,” CSFS Executive Director Mary Teegee told Lakes District News in February. “We wanted to have a clan health model and a safe place for families and children to go.”
Adam said the issue of family violence is complex, intergenerational and relates to colonization.
“There is a need for healing that includes elements of cultural humility and a long-term vision, as it affects all Indigenous people,” Adam said, adding the shelter’s programs and services will take a “holistic, wraparound approach” to support women and their children in their healing process while also promoting health and wellness.
Carrier Sekani Family Services, headquartered in Prince George and also with a local office in Burns Lake, provides health and wellness services for Carrier and Sekani communities in north central B.C.
The shelter will accept donations of clothing items, Adam added.