The future of a brain injury therapeutic centre in Duncan is in jeopardy, after a robbery of carving tools worth $10,000 earlier this month.
“I just wanted to cry,” said Chris Rafuse, the executive director of the Cowichan Brain Injury Society. “I thought how many bad things are going to happen to us.”
On the morning of Dec. 9, 2019, Rupert Scow, the head of the carving program at the centre, walked into the tool shed at the back of the building to set up for the day’s activities.
“I noticed it was unlocked right away,” he said. “As soon as I walked in, I started noticing things were missing.”
Someone had broken into the society’s shed and stolen $10,000 worth of special carving tools, axes, electric chainsaws and masks. The items are used for the society’s therapeutic carving program.
“To create something, it’s really calming,” said Scow, who also suffers from a brain injury. “It puts you right in the moment. And so by the time you’re finished carving, you’re just really calm.”
The program helps people with brain injuries cope with things like depression, anxiety and PTSD.
“When you have a brain injury, you have to recreate yourself,” explained Rafuse. “You’ll never be the same.”
The carving is just one of the activities that participants do in what the centre calls “therapeutic recreation.” It’s a way to use leisure as a tool for healing.
With the theft of the tools and the cost of operating, however, Rafuse says the future of the centre isn’t set in stone.
“The worst-case scenario is I’m going to have to pack up everything and put it in storage which means no programming,” she said.