First Nations people in need of treatment and recovery services can access expanded culturally appropriate care at the newly completed Tsow-Tun Le Lum Healing House located on the territory of the Cowichan Tribes.
Tsow-Tun Le Lum, which means “helping house” in the Hul'q'umi'num' language, offers 20 treatment beds and living units to support people who have experienced addiction, trauma or grief. Programs and services are based on First Nations’ concepts of holistic wellness and are culturally based and informed.
“First Nations are in the best position to determine what services are right for their communities,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “We are supporting the delivery of Indigenous-led services, promoting autonomy and equitable access to life-saving services, taking the lead from community partners and working in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority and the Government of Canada.”
The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Healing House in Duncan has been updated to include a sweat lodge, spiritual pond, walking trails, a Big House, arts and crafts spaces, yoga spaces, group and private counselling spaces, rooms for 2SLGBTQQIA+ people and a resident Elder apartment.
“The First Nations Health Authority acknowledges the support of our provincial and federal government partners in supporting strength-based approaches to treatment programs and embedding First Nations’ traditional healing practices,” said Richard Jock, chief executive officer, First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). “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.”
Tsow-Tun Le Lum offers three live-in treatment programs:
- 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 lives.
Other services provided by the healing house include counselling and cultural support by phone, video or other means, intensive live-in programs grounded in First Nations culture and tradition, trauma-focused second-stage recovery program, and counselling and support services to residential school survivors and their families.
“First Nations are leading the way in ensuring their communities have the healing practices and supports they need, and it has been a privilege to see their hard work come to fruition,” said Patty Hajdu, federal Minister of Indigenous Services. “The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Healing House, and the seven more to come, are excellent examples of how healing happens when programs are led by and for First Nations. We will continue to work with and support First Nations as they lead the way in the design, vision and delivery of their community’s health and wellness services.”
The updates to the Tsow-Tun Le Lum Healing House were funded through a partnership between the Province, the federal government and First Nations Health Council (FNHC) to replace six existing First Nation-run treatment centres and build two new centres in B.C. The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Healing House is the first of the eight treatment centres to be completed.
Working with Indigenous communities to provide culturally appropriate services is a critical part of the Province’s efforts to expand access to mental-health and addictions care so that more people can get the care they need in their communities.
Wade Grant, chair, First Nations Health Council (FNHC) –
“The Tsow-Tun Le Lum treatment centre is a concrete example of how the FNHC is fulfilling their promise to bring health care closer to home with First Nations’ culture at the centre of our work to improve health outcomes for all First Nations people in B.C. As we mark this important step, we are grateful to our tripartite partners for their continued support of the 2018 memorandum of understanding and the FNHA for their operational support. The FNHC knows that culture saves lives. That is why we support mental-health and addiction recovery in First Nation communities. The guidance and wisdom received from Elders in planning the centre’s ceremonial hut for brushing, smudging and other traditional healing reminds us of the importance of community-driven solutions.”
Colleen Erickson, chair, FNHA board of directors –
“First Nations people continue to be disproportionately affected by the toxic-drug poisoning crisis. The ongoing legacy of colonialism, racism, discrimination and intergenerational trauma leads many First Nations people experiencing addiction to avoid seeking treatment. The new Tsow-Tun Le Lum Healing House, and initiatives like it across B.C., will save lives by creating welcoming, safe spaces that are trauma-informed, restore connections to First Nations cultural and healing practices, and promote holistic healing.”
Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan –
“I am so grateful for the work of the First Nations Health Authority, Tsow-Tun Le Lum, the Province and all partners who have come together to provide better, more culturally appropriate mental-health and addictions care for Indigenous people. I know this treatment centre will help many people in the Cowichan Valley and beyond for generations to come on their pathway to recovery and wellness.”
Daniella David, chair of the board, Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society –
“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. 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.”
- Often, untreated psychological effects due to the impacts of colonialism have been passed on from generation to generation resulting in an ongoing cycle of abuse, trauma and addiction.
- Drug Rehab Services reports that out of 127 residential school survivors who had undergone clinical assessments in B.C., approximately 82% reported that their substance-use behaviours began after attending residential schools and roughly 78% had misused alcohol.
- In B.C., First Nations people are almost six times more likely to die from illicit-drug poisoning.
- In FNHA Vancouver Island region, while First Nations people make up 4.4% of the region’s population, they represented 23% of toxic-drug poisoning events in 2022.
- In July 2018, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the Province, First Nations Health Council and the Government of Canada, and supported by the First Nations Health Authority.
- The MOU set out a shared vision that would lead to greater control over mental-health and wellness programs by B.C. First Nations, better integration and co-ordination with provincial services, the ability to leverage federal and provincial funding and an increased capacity to address the underlying root causes leading to better health.
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
To learn about mental-health and substance-use supports in B.C., visit: https://wellbeing.gov.bc.ca
To learn about Mental Health and Substance Use Data Snapshot, visit: https://mentalhealthandaddictionscare.gov.bc.ca/
To read A Pathway to Hope roadmap, government’s plan to build an integrated system of mental-health and addictions care for people in B.C., visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BCMentalHealthRoadmap_2019.pdf
To learn about previous related announcements, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/indigenous-services-canada/news/2018/07/agreement-reaffirms-tripartite-commitment-for-improving-mental-health-and-wellness-services-with-first-nations-in-british-columbia.html
To learn about drug rehab services, visit: https://www.drugrehab.ca/