The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Healing House at Snaw-Naw-As near Lantzville has helped thousands of First Nations people since it opened in 1986.
It is for addictions and trauma recovery, a need that has spiked since the discovery of 215 children buried at a former residential school in Kamloops.
“When this news hit we started having survivors calling us, who had never told their stories and survivors who had told a little bit of their story. I’ve had people tell me I’m not going to be quiet anymore,” said Nola Jeffrey, Executive Director, Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society.
The 32-bed facility with healing rooms and healing gardens offers three programs and has over 350 people from across Canada participate in them every year.
In 1986, it began as a drug and alcohol recovery home.
“When we opened our doors and what we soon learned was that alcohol was the symptom and the real problem was the trauma and the unresolved trauma that came from colonization,” said Jeffrey.
Elder Marguerit James says homes like Tsow-Tun Le Lum are needed now as much as ever.
“Since the 215 that we found at Kamloops it has re-traumatized our people,” she said. “So we have to do more healing for our people and help them recover from the triggers of the trauma of the past.”
This means plans for a replacement Tsow-Tun Le Lum healing house near Duncan are seen as crucial.
The current lease on the Snaw-Naw-As reserve is about to expire and the growing community needs the land, so the society has been looking for a new home.
It now plans to build a new $13 million healing house on Miller Road near Duncan.
“My hope is there isn’t going to be a need one day but we’re not there yet, we’re not even close,” said Jeffery.
The new centre will be built on Reserve Cowichan Lands.
The 50-year lease was signed on March 1, 2021, with the landowner, Jason Campbell.
To honour the history of the site, trees cut from the land will be used in the construction and décor of the new building.
In a statement, Architect and Project Manager, Paul Blaser of RBM Architecture noted, “These trees hold good energy and have been here for the last century. It is appropriate for us to use what we can and keep them here on the land.”
A GoFundme page has been set up to help raise funds.