Port Alberni awarded Foundry centre to provide youth services | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Port Alberni awarded Foundry centre to provide youth services

Port Alberni, BC

The youth of the Alberni-Clayoquot region will soon reap the benefit of a Foundry Centre, a hub service space that aims to increase access to health care, mental health, sexual health, and substance use services for youth ages 12 to 24.

With an award of $1.5 million, Port Alberni will join 25 communities throughout the province who have or are developing a centre in support of their youth, reads a press release.

“The addition of a foundry centre will offer a hub service model that will increase the access and decrease the barriers to services for youth,” said Debra Hamilton, executive director at Alberni Drug and Alcohol Prevention Services (ADAPS) in an interview with Ha-Shilth-Sa.

After years of advocating, ADAPS, with Foundry Central, alongside community partners will lay the foundation for the hub in the coming months, reads the press release.

“Operating a Foundry [centre] has been a distant dream for the team at ADAPS because both organizations have shared goals and values,” said Hamilton in a press release. “Foundry is another strategy that ADAPS will deploy to meet its mission and mandate, while continuing to provide all of its current programming and services.”

Port Alberni is among the 10 communities in B.C. that will soon gain a Foundry Centre. 

“The youth are really the stakeholders in this process, they're going to have an opportunity to play a large role in what that space is going to look like, what the kinds of service delivery is going to look like, what kind of experiences they are going to expect when they show up to a place like this,” said Kelly Edgar, Usma director for the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC).

“We have put the voices of youth and families with lived and living experience at the front of the visioning process,” said Hamilton. 

The new Foundry centre will offer services that are relevant to Port Alberni youth, said Hamilton, noting that the Alberni Valley’s legacy of the Alberni Indian Residential School, impacts of colonization, alongside a feast and famine economy, blue collar culture, and a history of a resource-based industries are a few factors that contribute to the unique needs of the region.

“[The] foundry centre in Port Alberni will be developed in a way that meets the unique needs of youth in our community,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton adds that there has been clear direction, from their engagement, to establish a safe drop-in space inclusive of counseling, life skills groups, and social opportunities.

“But really important to this particular application for Foundry was that we heard from our Nuu-chah-nulth partners,” said Hamilton, noting NTC’s Usma as a key partner who advocated for a satellite division for west coast communities.

“Our central region families don't have as much access as our families do, say in the Port Alberni urban setting,” said Edgar, adding that advocacy for a west coast satellite division was necessary.

Hamilton shared that they have a vision to establish a cultural centre and an elder in residence for youth to have access to at the facility. While Edgar notes that as the process begins to implement the centre, there is opportunity for Nuu-chah-nulth youth and First Nations to come to the table.

“What makes Foundry centres so unique is their commitment to creating safe spaces that provide tailored wellness services to fit each person’s needs and lived experiences,” said Lillian Brown, a peer support worker in the Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin, in another press release. “At my centre, we prioritize a holistic and decolonized approach to wellness so Indigenous youth who visit don’t feel limited to Western forms of health care.”

Support from the community has been overwhelming, said Brent Ronning, chair of the ADAPS board, in a press release.

“ADAPS is excited for this opportunity and the recognition that we have the capacity to provide the best services for youth in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District,” he said.

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