It has served thousands of people on their healing journeys since opening its doors in June 1988 at its home in Nanoose, and now, Tsow-Tun Le Lum is spreading its wings with a move to brand-new facility in Duncan, BC.
Tsow-Tun Le Lum, which means Helping House, is a fully accredited, registered, non-profit treatment society. But Executive Director Nola Jeffrey prefers to call it a healing house, because they offer holistic and cultural supports for people, not only in addictions, but also for survivors of trauma.
The current facility occupies five acres of land, leased from the Nanoose First Nation. The building includes 10 rooms for up to 32 client beds. Jeffrey said there is a women’s side and men’s side and clients sleep in bunk beds.
But the new building offers 16 bedrooms that will house up to 32 clients. In addition, there will be space set aside for gender-fluid people.
“It’s very exciting!” said Jeffrey.
Jeffrey said the new building, which they are still fundraising to complete, was to be ready by October 2022 but there have been delays in construction. They now hope to move in by February 2023 and have taken in their last cohort of clients in the old facility at the end of November 2022.
Tsow-Tun Le Lum offers programs to treat people that misuse substances and another for those dealing with trauma. In order to access the trauma program, clients must have six months sobriety and be working with a counsellor or similar support person.
There are short-term programs like the grief and loss, which runs three weeks.
Tsow-Tun Le Lum has 40 staff members, 20 to 35 cultural workers as well as several elders that live in the facility to support the programs in a cultural way.
The new building, located at 2850 Miller Road in Duncan, was painstakingly designed, keeping in mind the daily activities that will happen there.
“The building faces east because that is where everything starts,” said Jeffrey.
Glass walls in the entryway overlook the courtyard and the three fires, representing the three families that pushed for having an addictions treatment centre on Vancouver Island.
Inside the new building will be a place called the Spiritual Room. Jeffrey said it is a space where elders will do cultural work with clients and where closing ceremonies will be held.
A new space for Tsow-Tun Le Lum is the exam room reserved for clients accessing medical services.
“Sometimes drug use masks illnesses,” said Jeffrey.
They’ve seen clients entering sobriety discover illnesses that they were not previously aware of.
“It’s important to stay on top of illnesses,” said Jeffery.
She said the First Nations Health Authority is working on getting a nurse and maybe even a doctor to serve the facility when it is in session.
“We do our utmost to take care of the people’s needs so that they can focus on healing,” said Jeffrey.
Clients at Tso-Tun Le Lum will have access to fitness and yoga rooms as well as a space for arts and crafts.
“People using substances stay out of their bodies; when they give up their addictions, being back in their bodies can feel painful,” said Jeffrey. “This is why it is important help them get back into their bodies.”
“Tsow-Tun Le Lum is a safe place where people learn new coping skills and feel good about who they are, let their light shine,” she added. “We use western methodology but most importantly, we use culture.”
The new building came in at a cost of $18 million. First Nations Health Authority took care of the bulk of the cost and there were other donors. But the society is $2 million short and is seeking donations.
If you would like to donate to Tsow-Tun Le Lum go to https://www.tsowtunlelum.org/resources/donate/