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Complex-care housing opens for Indigenous people

People in Ktunaxa Nation communities living with complex mental health and addiction challenges will have access to new housing and support.

B.C. government officials said the new complex-care housing units are aimed at helping people stabilize their lives and break the cycle of homelessness.

“The toxic-drug crisis continues to have a greater impact on Indigenous people and communities than other B.C. residents,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Many people living with serious mental-health and addictions challenges have been left behind and neglected. Their complex needs often led to a cycle of evictions, shelters, and even emergency rooms and jail cells.”

The facility is run by the Ktunaxa Nation, with services primarily offered to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in the Cranbrook area.

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“Most of the staff at the site have Ktunaxa lineage or are otherwise connected to our communities,” said Debbie Whitehead, social investment director with the Ktunaxa Nation. “Those who want to give back to their community have been hired and we are providing ongoing training. They are looked at as aunty and uncle by the clients. Of the 12 staff, 10 are Ktunaxa. When you realize that this complex-care housing is a safe place for people who have been kicked out of every single institution, you realize how vital and welcome it is. It’s a last resort and a safe place.”

B.C. government officials said the program provides housing along with services such as nursing, social workers, wellness supports, life skills training and access to harm-reduction resources.

“It is a nice place because it is a safe place for me to go,” said Clifton Gravelle, resident and Ktunaxa citizen. “There is food when I am hungry. I don’t have to always come home. My bed is always there. I can go out, help my friends and then come home.”

The Ktunaxa Nation’s services are trauma-informed, culturally safe and follow the Ktunaxa Nation Social Investment Sector Practice Framework.

Most of the medical care provided by the complex-care team is done in partnership with Interior Health.

“Complex-care housing provides voluntary services to people who face mental health and addiction challenges that overlap, often with other complex health issues such as brain injuries,” said B.C. government officials.

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