From left: Northern Women’s Recovery House Society’s board members Annette Rolleman, Valerie Wright and Blane Stensgaard ran the garage sale fundraiser this past weekend. (Contributed Photo)

Northern Women’s Recovery House Society plans to incorporate Indigenous culture into program

First Nations’ practices aimed at helping those in recovery look positively at their roots

The Northern Women’s Recovery House Society is looking to bring in an Indigenous-focused component to their proposed recovery home for women in Terrace.

Society chair Valerie Wright says their aim is to make their program more culturally-aware as they estimate 70 per cent of their occupants may be First Nations. This will be done through discussions in the community, and with the suggestion of an elder on their board.

“The Wellbriety movement encompasses all the cultural teachings…it’s something that’s really important in recovery,” says Wright. “First Nations people had to deal with the residential schools and are still dealing with it, along with the 60s scoop. There’s a lot of pain, trauma and grief…I think it’s important for anybody, regardless of where you come from, to look back.”

The Indigenous-focused piece would incorporate smudging circles and cleansing rituals, amongst other cultural practices, with their program, Wright says. The 12-step recovery treatment includes meditation, yoga, art therapy, anger management, development of life skills and group therapy led by certified addiction counselors.

The proposed recovery house would have between 10 to 12 beds to house women for up to a year as they learn to curb any negative habits and create a new routine for themselves.

READ MORE: New society forms to propose recovery home for women in Terrace

The non-profit society was formed September last year after recognizing the need to provide a safe, sober place for women returning from treatment centres. This would be the first facility of its kind in northern B.C.

Wright says there is a dire need for a recovery home for women in the region, as many struggling with addictions often resort to damp shelters where it can be difficult for them not to relapse while living with people who are intoxicated. Hospitals only accept those in medical distress and not everyone has a welcoming, substance-clean home to return to.

“There are many women that return and they can go to support meetings in the evening, but the most important thing is, where are you living? Are you living with people that are actively drinking or doing drugs?” Wright explains.

“That is extremely difficult and women don’t usually last too long in those situations… depending on how far a person’s gone in their addiction, they might not have had very much structure in their day.”

READ MORE: Terrace comes together on homelessness

Alongside raising awareness of their vision, the society has also worked to seek letters of support, including from the City of Terrace and the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, to help them apply for funding to conduct a feasability study.

The detailed assessment is required for them to gain charity status and to establish an official business plan to push their proposed recovery home forward.

“It’s very difficult to get regular funding if you don’t have a feasibility study,” Wright says. “But it’s really wonderful to have all this support and we know most people know that this facility is really needed.”

Although they have applied for grants, Wright says the community has been a great help as they strive to raise money for the proposed recovery home and have raised a total of $1,400 from their garage sale fundraisers. They plan on holding their second annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser next spring and will continue to run their garage sales.

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