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Tsow Tun Le Lum Healing House upgrades complete in Duncan

First Nations people in the Cowichan Valley in need of treatment and recovery services can access expanded culturally appropriate care with newly completed updates to a facility.

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Healing House has been updated to include 20 treatment beds and living units for those who have experienced addiction, trauma, or grief. Tsow-Tun Le Lum means “helping house” in the Hul’q’umi’num’ language.

The house’s upgrades include a sweat lodge, spiritual pond, walking trails, and other amenities to help support people dealing with those challenges. It’s been funded by the First Nations Health Council, as well as the federal and provincial governments.

The province says that programs and services there are based on First Nations’ concepts of holistic wellness and are culturally based and informed.

BC’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Jennifer Whiteside says, “First Nations are in the best position to determine what services are right for their communities.”

Provincial stats say that First Nations people are almost six times more likely to die from illicit drug poisoning.

“In FNHA (First Nations Health Authority) Vancouver Island region, while First Nations people make up 4.4 per cent of the region’s population, they represented 23 per cent of toxic-drug poisoning events in 2022,” reads a press release on the new healing house.

Daniella David, chair of the board for the Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society says that keeping their cultural teachings central to their programs is key.

“Everything we do at Tsow-Tun Le Lum is guided by our ancestors and all the cultural teachings and ceremonies that have been passed down to us today,” says David. “Our programs are designed to bring out the goodness in people who have been hurt and lost confidence in themselves. We’re here to help rebuild their sense of self-worth and that means connecting to culture and to the land, where healing can happen holistically.”

They’re offering three “live-in” treatment programs, released as follows:

  • Thuy Namut (substance misuse) is a 40-day treatment program available to First Nations people from B.C. or the Yukon. This program is grounded in traditional culture and healing.
  • Kwunatsustul (trauma) is a second-stage, five-week recovery program focused on healing trauma.
  • Honoring Grief Program is a 30-day program for those who have experienced grief that is affecting their live.

The hope for the centre is that it will help set a standard for other healing houses in various communities.

FNHA Chief Executive Officer, Richard Jock says, “Change requires system-wide, transformative approaches and Tsow-Tun Le Lum is a model for organizations seeking to provide culturally safe and trauma-informed cultural, emotional, addictions and healing services to First Nations people.”

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