FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The minister of Mental Health and Addictions announced Tuesday that a Foundry Centre will be coming to Fort St. John thanks to a joint effort from the Fort St. John Friendship Society, Foundry and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

Once it is open, Foundry Fort St. John will offer people between the ages of 12 and 24 a youth-friendly, welcoming and appropriate service to fit their needs.

While there is currently no timeline for the centre’s opening, there is a considerable amount of community support.

“This is such a significant investment in our community and the young people and families who will receive the services and support they deserve and the hope for a brighter future,” Anita Lee, the executive director of the Fort St. John Friendship Society, said.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us as an organization, and we look forward to working with Foundry central, our partner organizations, and youth and family members to see Foundry Fort St. John through to reality.”

The Minister of Health and Addictions, Sheila Malcolmson, says they are looking for a space for the Foundry Centre.

“What is something that they can renovate quickly and move into?” she mentioned.

The centre will include mental health and substance use support, drop-in counselling, physical and sexual healthcare, youth and family peer support and social services.

The Fort St. John Friendship Society will be operating the new centre, and it is the first of four new centres to be announced in the coming months, according to the Ministry of Health and Addictions.

“I think one of the things that really defines Foundry is the use of peer workers and in particular young people that have been through the experience themselves, they’re more trusted by their peers, and they can play that in-between role kind of as a navigator and a validator,” Malcolmson said.

She agrees that there is a need in the region for services like this.

“If it wasn’t Foundry, we’re adding services in all kinds of other ways,” she said.

“I spent the day yesterday in PG, and we heard, again and again, the need is deep, but already youth and service providers are seeing the new supports we’ve put in on early psychosis intervention on eating disorders.”

Malcolmson recognizes that the need is ever rising, especially in the past couple of years and is committed to building support in a whole range of areas, Foundry being only one.

There are now 12 Foundry Centres open across the province, and 7 more have been announced.

Foundry’s services can be accessed from anywhere in the province through the Foundry BC app, website or phone.

“They can do virtual counselling by phone, but they can get same-day or next-day appointments. And I’ve heard from a lot of young people that it’s that immediate crisis. ‘I’m anxious about this thing right now,'” she explained.

“Our future lies squarely on the shoulders of our youth. Providing them with the resources and supports for a healthy life is without a doubt essential, so this announcement of a Foundry in Fort St. John is very welcome,” Mayor Lori Ackerman stated.

“The diligence of the staff and board of the Fort St. John Friendship Society in keeping this project in the forefront is to be commended. Hard work has paid off.”

As for support for younger children, Malcolmson says that there is a couple of places where the ministry is building support.

“One is our early year’s program, which is children one to six and their families,” she explained, a project they started to fund several years ago.

“That’s really meant to give families, especially and their young kids, that very foundational support really before they get into the school system.”

They also have a broader integrated child and youth team being implemented in different communities in the province, working in partnership with the school system and aimed at school-aged children.

For more information on Foundry, visit their website.

For more information on Mental Health and Addictions and resources, visit the BC government website.

Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.