Mike Franklin, manager of the Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin stands in front of the welcoming new facility for youth in the region. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Mike Franklin, manager of the Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin stands in front of the welcoming new facility for youth in the region. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin opens its doors to young people

Facility aims to address mental health, addictions and other issues impacting youth in region

Young people in the Cariboo Chilcotin region can access more mental-health and substance-use services with the opening of a Foundry centre in Williams Lake.

“Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin will fill a much-needed role in the community to uplift and support youth, as well as bring together resources and services from our partner agencies. I’m really excited about this project as a youth and professionally as someone invested in the well-being of youth around the Cariboo Chilcotin. As a youth, many of my friends and acquaintances feel isolated and powerless, and I really think that Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin could be a big part of the solution to this problem that so many local youths face today,” said Rylee Smith, a peer support worker at the new Foundry in Williams Lake, in a release.

Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin provides young people aged 12 to 24 and their families free and confidential age-friendly services to fit their unique needs, such as mental-health and substance-use counselling, medical services, peer support and social services.

“Young people have been dealing with immense pressures and health challenges made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, the toxic drug crisis and climate emergencies,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin will be a beacon for young people in Williams Lake and surrounding communities, supporting youth with access to the help they need, when they need it.”

Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin is the 14th Foundry centre to open in British Columbia and is operated by Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre in collaboration with multiple partner organizations. The centre is located at 51 4th Ave. South in Williams Lake in a completely renovated space, with rooms for counselling, reading and hanging out, medical appointments, cultural activities and hands-on workshops. The warm and welcoming exterior leads to a modern, interior complete with snacks and other features to support youth in feeling comfortable.

The Province has provided one-time funding of $800,000 for the centre’s establishment and is contributing $700,000 in annual funding for operations and services. Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin aimed to raise $1.2 million to build and establish the centre, and is more than 90 per cent to the fundraising goal, thanks to support from donors and community champions.

“The opening of Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin is part of our ongoing commitment in ensuring young people and families across B.C. continue receiving accessible supports closer to home,” said Steve Mathias, executive director, Foundry. “The Cariboo Chilcotin communities have worked in partnership with the young people of the region to create a vision for an amazing centre. From the mural outside to the gathering spaces inside, the centre is welcoming and friendly. We express our gratitude to everyone who contributed countless hours on this beautiful space.”

There are 14 Foundry centres open throughout the province in Vancouver-Granville, North Shore (North Vancouver), Campbell River, Ridge Meadows, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Prince George, Victoria, Penticton, Terrace, Comox Valley, Langley, Richmond and Cariboo Chilcotin.

An additional nine new Foundry centres are in development in Burns Lake, East Kootenay (Cranbrook), Port Hardy, Sea to Sky (Squamish), Surrey, Fort St. John, Tri-Cities, Kamloops and the Sunshine Coast. Foundry services can also be accessed from anywhere in the province through the Foundry BC app, by phone or at: foundrybc.ca/virtual (https://foundrybc.ca/virtual)

Enhancing supports for young people living with mental-health and substance-use needs is part of A Pathway to Hope, the B.C. government’s roadmap for building a comprehensive system of mental-health and addictions care for British Columbians.

Read more: WLFN cultural co-ordinator leads site blessing of Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin

Read more: Williams Lake First Nation to host community empowerment workshop for adults and youth



ruth.lloyd@wltribune.com

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