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NEWS RELEASE · 9th April 2010
M of Aboriginal Relations
Gathering on a traditional First Nations village site in Chilliwack today, Sto:lo Nation chiefs, staff and provincial government officials are celebrating the grand opening of the Stehiyáq Healing and Wellness Village for at-risk Aboriginal youth.

"This is a day of tremendous importance, as Stehiyáq represents a change in how we're creating sobriety and health for our young people," said Ch-ihl-kway-uhk Tribe Society Chief Frank Malloway, Chair of the Stehiyáq Aboriginal Healing Society Board and one of the original visionaries behind the village. "Two years ago, Premier Gordon Campbell empowered us to take responsibility for the health and well-being of our children. Today, we're doing exactly that."

The Province has provided close to $5 million in land and cash for the centre up to now, and provincial support will continue through $350,000 in funding from the Ministry of Children and Family Development this year.

"An important aspect to improving health and socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal children, youth and families is ensuring Aboriginal people design and deliver their own services in their own ways," said Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak. "With provincial support, years of hard work by the society have resulted in a unique healing centre for Aboriginal youth struggling with addictions, physical or emotional trauma."

Starting in May, the village will open its doors to ten girls between 13 and 17 years of age who will stay for up to one year while they make positive changes in their lives.

"Stehiyáq is a village and we will be operating very much like a community," said Richard Mayuk, Executive Director of the Stehiyáq Aboriginal Healing Society. "We will be using contemporary and traditional knowledge to assist the youth in rediscovering their identity, and we are proud to open our doors next month and to begin to help these young people let go of a lot of their pain, anger and disappointment."

Programs will include alcohol and drug treatment, education, nutrition, mental health, recreation, self-esteem building and career planning classes. Cultural activities will include cleansing ceremonies, sweat lodges, medicine wheel teachings, storytelling, Elders' support, longhouse teachings, drumming and singing, all in addition to coming of age and naming ceremonies.

Over time, the Stehiyáq Aboriginal Healing Society plans to build on the programs and the people they serve. Their long-term vision is to develop residential family healing programs.

"The Province has long supported the values and intent of the Stehiyáq Healing and Wellness Village," said George Abbott, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. "This project holds great promise to create positive change and help close the gaps in health between Aboriginal people and other British Columbians."

The B.C. government is working in partnership with First Nations and Aboriginal groups to support Aboriginal service design and delivery that will lead to stronger, healthier Aboriginal families and communities where they are connected to their culture and traditions.