The five-bed supported recovery Letwilc ren Semec Centre at the community of Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake), seen here in 2017 when it was being built, is presently reviewing applications for residents to move in as early as the third week in February. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Long awaited after-care recovery centre ready to open in Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake)

Centre to offer three to six month stays

One of the Interior’s newest recovery centres should be ready to accept applicants as early as the third week in February.

Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins said a committee is reviewing applications for the first three people wanting to stay at the five-bed supported Letwilc ren Semec Centre which is in his community and translates as “Heal My Spirit.”

“We are having a soft start with just three people,” Robbins said. “It is an after-care recovery centre for people who go to treatment but don’t want to go home right away because there may still be alcohol and drugs in the home. They have the opportunity to stay at our recovery centre from three to six months and if there is an opportunity we can accept them for another three to six months, but they still have to go through the application process.”

Robbins said a caretaker has moved in, there is a nurse on staff, and the committee reviewing the applications is made up of representation from First Nations Health Authority, Interior Health Authority and the community of Esk’etemc.

During the last month, the committee has developed procedures and policies for the centre and anyone working at the centre will have to undergo a criminal record check, adhere to strict protocols and follow the procedures and policies.

“It is a fully-functioning facility and we will be providing other opportunities for them to be successful,” he said.

There is funding available for people living at the recovery centre to access training programs through the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, Sage training and the Cariboo Chilcotin Aboriginal Training Employment Centre, he added.

“They can also attend self-esteem workshops, drug and alcohol workshops and other services to improve their lives if they want to get a job after they leave.”

A unique aspect of the new recovery centre will be its location and access to opportunities already existing in the community, such as weekly AA meetings for women and men, a men’s wellness group and a women’s wellness group.

“We have sweat lodges up and down the creek,” Robbins said. “Anything to do with our culture and our traditions and our identity is seated well in our community. People will have an opportunity to experience the Esk’etemc traditions and cultures for four to six weeks and along the same lines they will be searching for their own identity and their own spirituality and their own culture.”

Read more: Film about Esk’etemc premieres June 21 in Williams Lake

Recovery residents will be free to come and go as they please, but will need to be checked in at a certain time.

“They will be provided with an opportunity to be successful in their sobriety and that also includes an education program if they want to pursue it.”

Robbins said he began pushing for a recovery centre back in 2002 and it is “good to see it come to full circle.”

Built by Zirnhelt Timber Frames Ltd. of 150 Mile House, the 6,800-square-foot-centre is a net-zero facility.

Former Chief Charlene Belleau pushed for funding of the centre.

During a blessing of the building in September 2017, Belleau said Esket has been at the forefront for the last 40 years dealing with healing and sobriety, but never had a facility.

“We’ve taken our people to our meadows and our old offices, but it was always with whatever we had that we made do,” Belleau said at the time.

Read more: Dream of recovery centre comes to fruition for Esk’etemec First Nation



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