More than 100 people attended a site blessing by Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) for the future home of the Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin in Williams Lake Wednesday, Nov. 3.
Foundry is a province-wide network of integrated health and social services across the province, which the one in Williams Lake will be a part of.
Before he sang and drummed, WLFN cultural co-ordinator David Archie said the project is an important dream and vision of many people.
“It’s a culmination of the hard work but also listening to our young people,” he said. “All the work that we see here today we want to bless in the best way possible, to create that awareness and move and build on the energy that has been collecting for some time now.”
Archie invited anyone who had the best intentions and wishes for the foundry, youth, the city, the traditional territories of the first peoples of B.C. and Canada, to take from a mixture of sage, cedar, juniper and sweet grass.
“Together we will bless this building, bless this project, bless all of the youth from this moment forward who come into access the support and services they feel cannot be accessed anywhere else,” he said.
Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre executive director Vanessa Riplinger said major renovations are already underway at the building, which is located at 51 Fourth Ave. South.
“As the construction continues with Lauren Bros. Construction leading the way, we will be working hard with all of our partners to be planning services, and in conjunction with our partners we will be working with our youth on how we are going to be providing services.”
Dale Lauren of Lauren Bros. Construction Ltd. said the work will entail a complete refit of the space.
“It will have a new layout, new finishes throughout, with new mechanical and electrical systems,” he said.
One of the most exciting aspects of the project is that it is for youth, Lauren added.
“It’s a missing component in the city for this specific age group. There is a need in our community. I think there are lots of programs for younger children, but not so much for the early teens and into adults.”
Riplinger said it has been important to engage local youth in the design of the foundry.
“One of the things with foundry is they recognize the youth need to have a space where they are comfortable so they have done a huge piece of this design. They have picked out a lot of the colours. There are greens and a wood feel in there that the youth have chosen.”
There are several foundries in the province, and while there will be similarities to them in the Cariboo Chilcotin Foundry’s design, there will also be aspects that local youth have chosen to represent a “Cariboo vibe,” Riplinger added.
She also said project lead George Warr has done a lot of work engaging with youth.
Riplinger thanked the foundry’s many partners including stakeholders, other agencies and the city of Williams Lake.
It is anticipated the doors will open in late spring, she said.