Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC Concerned For Fate of Indigenous Clients After Funding Not Renewed
COAST SALISH TERRITORIES/NORTH VANCOUVER, BC, April 23, 2018 – The Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC (NCCABC) is deeply concerned for the over one thousand Indigenous clients who currently receive NCCABC delivered addiction and substance use counselling and services. On April 17, 2018, NCCABC received abrupt notice during an in-person meeting with Vancouver Coastal Health, that their existing contract with Vancouver Coastal Health to provide these services was not renewed.
For 45 years, the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC has been a leader within the Vancouver Coastal Region, working to connect Indigenous individuals, families and communities to culturally-relevant programs and services. The Aboriginal Health Transition Project delivered by the NCCABC currently operates through funding from Vancouver Coastal Health and offers vital supports to the urban Indigenous community residing in the Lower Mainland. The NCCABC has worked, often in partnership with Indigenous communities and Indigenous organizations, to ensure the continuity of these essential programs and services.
Notwithstanding successful evaluations of their program delivery, the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC was informed that their bid to maintain the Aboriginal Health Transition Project and deliver addiction and substance use counselling and services under this program was denied by Vancouver Coastal Health. No explanation was given as to why the delivery of these services by NCCABC would no longer be funded, and no assurance provided that the Indigenous clients that are currently being served will be adequately supported during the period of uncertainty created by this last minute funding decision.
Darlene Shackelly, Executive Director of the NCCABC, stated, “The abrupt decision to end funding has shocked the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC, as it adversely impacts our Indigenous clients, our staff and Indigenous community partners who rely on the NCCABC’s service delivery.”
She continued: “The success of addiction and substance use counselling is largely dependant upon strong relationships built on trust. The pattern of uprooting these services impacts greatly on our Indigenous clients. I have received no reassurance that the best interests of Indigenous peoples looking to access these critical services are at the heart of the decision that has been made by Vancouver Coastal Health.”
“As someone committed to strong service delivery for our Indigenous families and communities, it has been extremely upsetting to learn that no considered transition plan connecting our existing clients to counselling services after our contract expires at the end of next month has been planned. Furthermore, Indigenous staff members who have built trusting relationships with clients, learned of the news through indirect channels, and are now unnecessarily unsure of their own future and security,” concluded Shackelly.
Douglas White III, President of the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC, stated: “NCCABC takes seriously our responsibility to provide Indigenous-led, culturally relevant services, exceptional governance and strategic visioning. Our organization is in a unique leadership position to provide meaningful and effective services for the Indigenous community in BC. This decision is disturbing and Vancouver Coastal Health has a responsibility to both explain this abrupt decision, and provide adequate support to the hundreds if not thousands of Indigenous clients that have been an afterthought in terms of preparing plans for their transition and communicating in a timely and transparent way any changes.”
In an era of reconciliation, it should be imperative that all those responsible for the delivery of public services commit to ensure the safety and wellness of Indigenous community members who receive the kind of critical supports and services impacted by this funding decision. Centering around the needs of the client, the loss of this funding will impact the fluidity and effectiveness of program and service delivery, and disrupts the healing journeys of our Indigenous clients. The Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC is therefore steadfast in its resolve to see Vancouver Coastal Health account for and take responsibility for the impacts of this decision. To this end, NCCABC has officially requested a review of the funding decision, as part of the BC Bid process, to ensure that the selection process was open, fair and transparent.
For further information: Darlene Shackelly, Executive Director, Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 604-628-1132, www.nccabc.ca