Chemical addiction worker program proposed for Williams Lake

A four-year chemical addictions worker diploma program could be coming to Williams Lake.

Proposed by the Cariboo Chilcotin Métis Association, the program would be offered through the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) and delivered in the lakecity.

“The course is built around people who are working as alcohol and drug counsellors and addiction workers,” said Dr. Verna Billy Minnabarriet, one of the writers of the eight-year-old program and vice-president of NVIT. “It is a blended learning model where people do one week online, a week face-to-face in the classroom and another week online completing assignments and papers.”

In its eighth year, the program is nationally recognized and a certified degree program.

“We have an agreement with the University of Fraser Valley,” she said. “NVIT delivers the first three years and the fourth year is delivered by UFV. We are certified by the Indigenous Board of Canada.”

Cariboo Chilcotin Métis Association president Marlene Swears has invited Billy Minnabarriet to come to Williams Lake Saturday, April 22 to share information about the program during the association’s annual spring potluck being held at St. Andrew’s United Church at 1000 Huckvale Street.

Doors open at 4 p.m. and dinner begins at 5 p.m.

“We have over 800 members now in our association and some of the people working in the social services field want more education,” Swears said. “We signed a protocol agreement with NVIT to bring in what we felt was the most-needed training in this area and we thought the chemical addictions one was necessary because of the crime in Williams Lake.”

Originally from Bonaparte First Nation, Billy Minnabarriet said addiction is something everyone needs to address and one of the unique aspects of the program is that the first four courses deal with one’s own trauma.

“Students build a self-care plan because in order to help others you need to be able to help yourself. Many other programs don’t address do that. They address the head but not the heart.”

While the Cariboo Chilcotin Métis Association is the program’s lead organization it is open to anyone interested in addictions training, Billy Minnabarriet said.

Graduates of the program can expect to work anywhere in Canada as NVIT has partnerships in Ontario, Québec, Northwest Territories, Yukon and all over B.C. and are looking to expand into Manitoba.

With a foundation of Indigenous learning, the curriculum is based on the Seven Sacred Laws, Red Road Philosophy and Medicine Wheel teachings, Billy Minnabarriet said.


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