BC’s Lantzville indigenous youth to get detox services from Orca Lelum Youth Wellness Centre

Detox Services. Image credit: Unsplash/Dose Juice

Vancouver/CMEDIA: Indigenous youth struggling with drug addiction reportedly on Vancouver Island in British Columbia (BC) would soon be benefited by the Orca Lelum Youth Wellness Centre in Lantzville, the first-of-its-kind detox centres and treatment services.

Orca Lelum Youth Wellness Centre. Image credit: Website

Lantzville will be the first in the province to offer detox services, specifically for Indigenous youth.  

Being almost six times more likely to die from illicit-drug poisoning than other people in the province, First Nations people in B.C. have been asking for access to culturally appropriate, Indigenous-led, mental-health and addictions treatment.

“The toxic-drug crisis is a tragedy, one that disproportionately affects Indigenous people…treatment for addictions and mental-health issues…power to transform a young person’s life ” said Premier David Eby.

20 substance-use treatment beds will be provided by the Orca Lelum Youth Wellness Centre to offer culturally informed care to Indigenous people aged 12 to 18 years, with 10 beds reserved for short-term detox and stabilization, while the other 10 beds would be reserved for offering a 10 week holistic live-in and culture-based healing program.

The treatment program would operate up to four times per year, and the centre will accept drop ins and continuous intake for the detox program.

With both streams of services being available at the same time, the centre would provide the best level of support for people needing long-term and short-term care.

Starting in June 2024, the centre will be providing the services in phases, but with more staff getting hired and trained, it is expected to be operating at full capacity in fall 2024.

Specialized trauma and grief services will also be provided during weeks when the addiction treatment program is not operating.

Indigenous youth struggling with mental-health and addiction challenges often face barriers to accessing the care they need including racism and a lack of appropriate resources, said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and added,

“Offering support informed by Indigenous knowledge is key to supporting them on this journey, so they can feel safe and connected to their culture while they focus on their healing in the short and long term.”

Managed by Orca Lelum Wellness Society, the youth centre will employ at least 50 staff members, including medical staff, clinical counsellors, cultural workers, intake workers as well as wellness support staff.

Established in 1994, Orca Lelum Wellness Society is an Indigenous Child and Family Service Agency offering traditional approaches to healing and growth that empower children, youth and families on Vancouver Island.

 “What Orca Lelum is offering is more than a service; it’s a pathway for our youth to feel empowered and connect to community, culture and the land. An experience that can help our youth on their wellness and healing journeys,” Kaitlyn McMahon-White, a youth advocate with Orca Lelum said.

Supported by a $171-million investment in Indigenous-led treatment, recovery and after-care services, the centre’s working with Indigenous communities to provide appropriate services expands the Province’s efforts to access mental-health and addictions care so that more people can get the care they need in their communities.

While the Province is investing more than $7 million for initial funding, through Budget 2023’s $171-million investment in Indigenous-led treatment, recovery and after-care services, the centre is also being supported by an additional $1 million from Island Health Authority.

“We are proud to offer a real solution in response to the devastating drug and mental-health crisis faced by our young people…in nurturing the whole person, integrating heart, mind, body and spirit to instil purpose and lasting connection beyond treatment,” Dr. Robina Thomas, board chair, Orca Lelum Society said

Driven by the needs of historically under-served population of First Nations communities, the First Nations Health Authority helped by The Orca Lelum Youth Wellness Centre would be brought nearer to the shared goals of achieving meaningful reconciliation, Richard Jock, CEO, First Nation Health Authority said

Lauding the partnership of Island Health with FNHA and the Orca Lelum Wellness Society by not only providing accessible substance-use treatment and recovery services to Indigenous youth, it also enables them to receive support closer to their families and communities, Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health said.