Williams Lake RCMP officers delivered boxes of hygiene kits to Three Corners Health Services Society Thursday afternoon.
The kits were provided by Soap for Hope based in Victoria and will go the Secwepemc communities served by the society, said Three Corners executive director Lori Sellars.
Soap for Hope Canada program co-ordinator Kara Udell since the pandemic arrived the organization has received more requests than it did in all of 2019 in the last month.
“The orders we received from Williams Lake came through our contact with the Indigenous Policing Services of the RCMP; all requests that we receive through that relationship are shipped and paid for by the BC RCMP,” she said. “Whenever possible they hire Diamond Delivery to ship and then local RCMP officers help get the product the rest of the way.”
Since COVID-19 pandemic precautions went into effect Three Corners has closed its office to the public, but staff are working with communities in a variety of ways.
“We have our lab technician, nurse practitioner and community nurses going out so community members do not have to travel into Williams Lake,” Sellars said.
“We also have mental health care clinicians and counsellors supporting our communities via telephone and electronic communications.”
At this time only urgent medical transportation support is being provided.
“We put together melamen (traditional medicine) packages for our elders and clients as well.”
Sellars and the nursing manager Stacey Isaac made a COVID-19 information video when they announced they were going into essential services mode that was uploaded onto the society’s Facebook page where new information is posted regularly for community members.
“Two other mental health resiliency videos were put on our Facebook page,” Sellars added.
Three Corners primary care team has been reaching out to support the five Northern Secwpemc communities — Tsq’ēsceń (Canim Lake), Stswēceḿc/Xgāt’tem (Canoe-Dog Creek), Xatśūll Cmetem’ (Soda-Deep Creek) and T’ēxelc (Williams Lake a.k.a. Sugar Cane) and Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake) during the pandemic.
“Yucwemen tsut-ce ell ucweminte re7 kwseltken,” Sellars added. “That means ‘look after yourself and look after relations’.”
Soap for Hope Canada is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2015 by executive director Anne McIntyre.
“We work with hotels — known as Caring Community Partners — who pay a nominal fee for us to take their gently used hygiene amenities and linens, diverting them from the landfill,” Udell said. “Our incredible community of volunteers then processes that product and we then distribute that product on request to community facilities serving those in need across B.C. and Alberta.”
In 2019 the B.C. site diverted more than 85,000 pounds from landfills, the bulk of that processed by an army of volunteers who gave nearly 4.000 hours of their time to make it happen.
“Due to the current state of the world we are not receiving the same bulk amount of product from hotels that we traditionally would and we have had to close our site to volunteers; so we are working a bit outside of the box. We have purchased product for the first time ever,” she added. noting they have reached out to community partners like Global Medic in Ontario who connected them to Proctor & Gamble, who have generously donated significant amounts of product for families in need.
“The Indigenous Policing Services of the RCMP are doing everything they can to support us while we work hard to help serve their remote Indigenous communities in need,” she added. “We have long time supporters like Rick’s Heart Foundation (and Diamond Delivery) who continue to ship product to us and send our product to community facilities on the mainland, who need it most.”
This pandemic has been a test of communities across the globe and Soap for Hope Canada really showed up.
“We could not do what we do without the powerhouse of community support that keeps popping up right when we need it most,” Udell said.
Additional comments were added to the original article after hearing back from Soap For Hope Canada co-ordinator Kara Udell.