The waitlist to enter the Three Voices of Healing Society's treatment program is generally six months.

First Nations healing centre relocates to Columbia Valley

The Three Voices of Healing Society (TVOH) is one of the most successful drug and alcohol treatment facilities in British Columbia.

One of the most successful drug and alcohol treatment facilities in British Columbia has relocated to the Columbia Valley from Creston.

The Three Voices of Healing Society (TVOH) has purchased a 53-bed facility on Capilo Way just off Highway 93/95 in order to better serve their clients with a new aftercare program.

“The way I see it, addiction is a disease, and that’s how Health Canada also sees it, as a disease,” TVOH executive director Delena Tikk said. “To me, it’s the same as (having) HIV; the disease can kill you. It can kill you organ by organ, or you can maintain it with a regiment of a healthy diet, healthy lifestyle and keep it in remission, and that’s what we try to do.”

First started in 1977, the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Wellness Centre in Creston was initially run as a recovery home under the Kootenay Indian Area Council before becoming a treatment centre in 1992. In 1997, the centre was transferred to an independent society, and today operates as a non-profit, non-political service organization dedicated to treatment of First Nations people suffering from addiction. In September, the society officially transferred their base of operations to the Columbia Valley after purchasing a larger complex to help extend their services.

“The biggest thing was the (new) facility,” Tikk explained. “(It has) more beds and we’re extending our services to accommodate some aftercare programs.”

The society receives federal funding through the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada, and is a registered charitable organization recognized by the federal government. Currently, the program has 12 staff on-site in the Columbia Valley, ranging from cooks and maintenance personnel to administration and addiction counsellors, and beds for 16 clients as part of their accredited residential adult treatment facility.

The waitlist for the program generally stretches from four to six months, and while First Nations clients are the priority, the society will also accept other non-First Nations peoples provided there is enough space in the program.

“We do alcohol and drug treatments, and we do gender specific, like men’s and then women’s, alternating,” Tikk said. “They come from all over B.C., Alberta, the Yukon, (and) Nunavut.”

Split into 41 day sessions, each session offers one-on-one counselling, group counselling, education, traditional and cultural activities and has a physical fitness and recreational component. Each session is also attended by a psychologist for seven days for psychological services.

“It’s teaching them the life skills and structure that’s been lost to their addiction,” Tikk said. “Then, what they can do in a drug-free life.”

Since 2004, the treatment completion rate has risen from 30 to 40 per cent to what is currently 80 to 90 per cent, and the sobriety rate one year after completing treatment has risen from 10 per cent to 40 to 60 per cent. The society also has a number of policies and procedures to protect staff and the clientele, including an appeal system, continuous learning opportunities and an employee support program that encourages a balance between work and home life.

For Tikk, the feeling she gets from seeing someone walk out the doors at the end of a treatment session is “overwhelming.”

“We had a fellow, he’d come through twice in a matter of three years,” Tikk recalled. “The second time he came through, everyone took a shine to him, like we do to everybody, but he was special, and he had no place to go, no family, nothing. So we set him up in a halfway house in Kelowna when he left treatment, and he never showed up and we never heard from him. About a year later, I get a phone call at the office, and it’s him — he’s sober, he’s working, he owns his own house, he has two cars, and he’s going on and on, and I’m bawling as he’s telling me this.”

Beginning this spring, the society is planning on introducing an aftercare program that will provide beds for roughly 30 clients.

Clients will be able to stay at the facility for up to three months after completing treatment, and in partnership with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT), the centre will also provide educational opportunities. NVIT will be sending a “trades trailer” that will provide introductory courses to the four basic trades plumbing, electrical work, carpentry and welding. Those interested in continuing their training after the three months will also be given placements in nearby educational institutes.

For more information, visit www.healingisajourney.com or www.firstnationstreatment.org.