Williams Lake’s situation table reflects what Silvia Seibert-Dubray thinks is special about the community.
“It reflects what I know of as Williams Lake — hard working, kind, giving people,” she said.
She was hired to work part-time as the city’s community well-being and safety co-ordinator in April 2021 and has been chairing the situation table meetings since May.
Made up of 18 organizations and associations, the table meets every Tuesday morning for about one hour and identifies if there are any individuals in need of services. Ninety-five per cent of the referrals come from the RCMP.
“It’s about building resiliency in individuals, which to me means the ability for someone to know how and where to get help to move themselves forward,” she said of the situation table’s intent.
To date the table has met 138 times and helped 83 people by connecting them to services and lowered their overall risk to injure themselves or others.
Born and raised in Williams Lake, she left the community for eight years to attend university and teach on the coast before returning to the Cariboo for a job filling in for a teacher on maternity leave at the Lac La Hache elementary school.
“I had a Grade 6/7 class and I remember it so vividly because I had two girls and 28 boys. I was 23 walking into this classroom. I thought ‘whoa, I guess I will get initiated by fire.’ They were great — I still see some of them around.”
Seibert-Dubray married Calvin Dubray, also an educator, in April 2008. They have two daughters. Alexis, 27, and Kylie, 23, and a grandson Denver who is almost two.
Her first husband, Bernie Forseille, died when Alexis was nine.
In August 2020 Seibert-Dubray retired from a 33-year education career. After Lac La Hache she taught at Nesika elementary, Anne Stevenson junior secondary and Williams Lake (WL) secondary.
Eventually she moved on to administration and was vice-principal at Columneetza and vice-principal and principal at Williams Lake secondary. She returned to Nesika to be principal for one year before becoming director of instruction for School District 27.
She said the job with the city builds on some of the things she had started while still working for SD27.
“When I returned to WL to be vice-principal it was the year the district had closed the rural high schools so we had a lot of young kids that were gang involved. I just really had a soft spot for them because I realized, given a choice, they probably would not be in that situation.”
As director of instruction, she was asked if she wanted the safer schools portfolio and said ‘yes,’ and later joined local efforts to develop a team in the Williams Lake area to focus on crime reduction strategies. She applied and received $900,000 in provincial funding and was working closely with Vanessa Riplinger, Dave Dickson, Jeff Pelley and Christa Smith. She also credits Shannon Tucker, director with Crime Reduction and Gang Outreach, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Felix Munger, managing director of the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime for helping the team.
Momentum stalled due to the 2017 wildfires, but a survey was done in 2019 with the aim to develop a community well-being safety plan. By February 2020 the plan was completed, but then interrupted because of COVID-19. Fast forward to summer 2021, and Seibert-Dubray is working with the Social Planning Council to do another survey.
“Beth Veenkamp from the city and I applied for a grant and it came through. We are going to do a well-being COVID recovery type of survey at the end of September. Anne Burrill and I are working on it and Barb Jones will help us.”
It was important to do another survey, she explained, because they were not sure if 2019 data would be applicable now.
“There is good stuff in the previous survey, but some families have not worked in a year and a bit, some have not seen loved ones in a year or more. How you define well-being I think has changed in the last 19 months.”
From the survey’s data the team will determine what biggest risk factors were identified and then share the information with a senior leadership group in the community to decide what to move forward with. Her job will be to co-ordinate the plan.
“I’m pretty sure one of the things that will come out is housing. The other one that was a huge risk factor in 2019 and beginning of 2020 was mental health and I think that will come up again.”
Seibert-Dubray is excited to move forward to pool not only resources, but brain power.
“There are so many great people in our community but we are not always talking to each other,” she said.
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