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TERRACE – The Northwest Working Group is moving forward to develop critically needed, culturally safe addiction supports in Terrace and the surrounding northwestern region.
Terrace has one of the highest rates of deaths in the province due to the toxic-drug crisis, with 98.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2023. Indigenous people are almost six times more likely to die from illicit drug poisoning.
“The toxic-drug crisis continues to have a disproportionate impact on First Nations communities,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Indigenous people are in the best position to determine the services that are right for their community, and partnerships like this will help us deliver addiction supports that better support First Nations and people in the North.”
The Northwest Working Group, comprised of representatives from the Northern First Nations Alliance, Northern Health Authority, First Nations Health Authority and the Province, aims to address this disproportionate impact by implementing more culturally appropriate resources to better serve people living with addiction in the North.
The working group will identify approaches that will ensure withdrawal-management services and treatment-and-recovery services for the region are culturally appropriate and meet the needs of First Nations and people living in the northwest.
“In our pursuit to create detox services that truly foster healing and recovery, it is imperative that we come together to ensure that the cultural component is not just an afterthought, but a cornerstone of the plan,” said Brenna Innes, chair, Northern First Nations Alliance (NFNA). “This will forge services that are safe and welcoming havens where individuals in the northwest region can access these much-needed withdrawal services with the comfort and understanding they deserve. We are grateful that the Province also recognizes that our proposal includes a land-based healing and after-care facility to provide wraparound services that is truly Indigenous-led.”
The NFNA is made up of representatives from Gitanyow, Haisla, Kitkatla, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum and Nisga’a Nations. The alliance meets regularly to discuss common issues and challenges, and ways the Nations can support each other and work together toward solutions.
“Collaboration is key to ensuring we are identifying and addressing challenges and creating meaningful supports for First Nations and people living with addiction,” said Colleen Nyce, chair, Northern Health board of directors. “We look forward to the Northwest Working Group achieving the shared goal of improved and culturally safe services in northwestern B.C.”
Working with Indigenous communities to provide culturally appropriate services is a critical part of the Province’s efforts to improve access to mental-health and addictions care so more people can get the care they need in their communities.
Julie Morrison, vice-president regional operations, Northern Region, First Nations Health Authority –
“The First Nations Health Authority is pleased to be collaborating with health partners to develop First Nations-led and culturally safe services – services that are desperately needed. In the Northwest, there are no community-based facilities that offer withdrawal services and also no mobile home-based withdrawal services. All this in a context where First Nations people represent almost half of all toxic-drug poisonings in the North.”
To learn about mental-health and addictions resources in Northern Health, visit: https://www.northernhealth.ca/services/mental-health-substance-use
To learn about mental-health and substance-use supports through First Nations Health Authority, visit: https://www.fnha.ca/what-we-do/mental-wellness-and-substance-use
Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions