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Supporting Food Security in Whitehorse

A new partnership has 405 Alexander's kitchen team preparing up to an additional 470 meals per week, to be served at two community locations.

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

– World Summit on Food Security

Food insecurity is a serious public health problem in Canada. When people have access to affordable and nutritious food, they are healthier, more productive, and better able to focus on other areas of their lives, such as family and community. Without it, they are at greater risk for poor health and the development of a variety of chronic conditions.

 

The experience of food insecurity can take different forms, and families and individuals may go through different stages at different times, as the circumstances of their lives shift and change. Common measurements of food insecurity, ranging from more moderate to more severe, can include:

 

  • Concerns about running out of food before there is more money to buy more
  • The inability to afford a balanced diet
  • Missing meals and going hungry
  • Not eating for whole days because of a lack of food

 

With the cost of living continuing to rise, spending more to buy less is a reality for an increasing number of Canadian families – especially in the North. Though territorial data has been lacking for the last several years, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut have consistently shown higher rates of food insecurity than all ten provinces.

 

The most recent Territorial data available from PROOF, a leading voice on food insecurity research in Canada, showed that in 2017-18, 16.9% of Yukon households were food insecure.

 

Rates of Household Food Insecurity Across Canada, 2017-18

 

Responding to these sorts of complex challenges requires governments and community agencies to come together. That’s why earlier this year, in addition to serving meals at 405 Alexander and preparing takeaway meals for those in need, Connective was excited to broaden its support of local food security through a new partnership with The Safe at Home Society and the Council of Yukon First Nations.

 

This interim program started in January and will run until the end of March. It allows the kitchen team at 405 Alexander to prepare an additional ~470 meals per week, to be served at two community locations.

up to 40 lunches and 40 dinners / day 

Thu  –  Fri  –  Sat  –  Sun

Former High Country Inn

4051 4 Ave, Whitehorse

Meals served at 12PM and 6PM

P: 867-667-7233

up to 50 dinners / day

Tue  –  Thu  –  Sat

Family Preservation Program Building

Suite 130, 205 Black Street, Whitehorse

Meals served from 5:30 – 7:30PM

P: 867-393-9200 ext. 9236

For Connective’s kitchen team, this opportunity to contribute to the community means a lot.

“The work we do is hard at times but very rewarding. We are proud to be able to do our part to combat food insecurity in our community. “

– Kitchen Worker, Connective

For our partners, this collaboration is helping to fill some urgent gaps. Safe at Home supports individuals who are experiencing homelessness and who are precariously housed. They also provide supportive housing for 29 individuals, at the site of the former High Country Inn. Many of those individuals are experiencing a multitude of barriers – food insecurity being one of them.

 

Safe at Home’s Executive Director explained how, “Folks with chronic health conditions, mobility issues, and/or who are active in their substance use need easy access to nutritious food. But affordable and safe transportation to the food bank, to meal programs, and grocery stores is a huge issue. Providing access to meals through our Warming Centre was an opportunity to bridge all of these gaps for those we support.”

 

 

Staff at CYFN felt similarly, “This is helping to fill the needs of people that are food insecure, and that are struggling to feed their families and meet the nutritional needs of growing children. The more we are able to work together on initiatives like these, the greater our impact will be in helping to create a better Whitehorse for all of us.”

“There is no magic bullet to addressing the crises facing many of our community members. We have witnessed greater success and stronger impact when we partner, leaning on each other’s skillsets and resources to have a broader reach. This is an example of such a partnership – it’s a win-win with community members at the centre.”

– Executive Director, Safe at Home

This new partnership was made possible in thanks to funding from the Government of Yukon, through the Downtown Safety Plan Initiative. It is just one of the ways that Connective is working to expand support services for vulnerable populations in the community.

What's in a Meal?

An Update from 405 Alexander’s Kitchen Team

Since Connective began operating 405 Alexander in October of 2021, the kitchen team has served over 110,000 meals – for many in the community, this service is an important source of food security.

 

Earlier this year, Shawn (405 Alexander’s Kitchen Coordinator) and his team set out to overhaul the menu being served to residents and service users of the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter. With thousands of meals served up each month, this was a major undertaking.

 

 

“A lot of work goes into a menu, especially a major overhaul like we did. Running a 28-day rotating menu is very complex but provides a great value and variety.”

 

For Shawn and his team, the goal was to “create a more well-rounded and well balanced, nutritious diet, using more traditional food that service users would enjoy.” On paper the task sounds straightforward enough, but in practice, it was anything but.

 

From gathering service user input, to consulting Canada’s Food Guide, and considering portion sizes, traditional diets, and diverse food groups – the first step was ideation. After that, “the hard work begins.”

 

Staff had to build, test, and price individual recipes (sometimes as many as 3-5 per meal), work with suppliers to ensure that ingredients would be regularly available, and ensure that each dish ‘worked,’ so that “service and the flow of delivery was speedy and efficient.”

 

A handful of the meals prepared by the kitchen crew at 405 Alexander

 

The team also took special care to ensure that on days where pork or seafood were served, alternatives were available to meet allergy needs or dietary preferences. The results? So far, they speak for themselves.

“The response has been just incredible. We constantly have people complementing our staff and thanking us for our efforts.”

– Shawn, Kitchen Coordinator

It was a lot of work, but for Shawn and his team, it was well worth it.

 

“Food can play such a huge role in someone’s road to recovery…I have always preached that the kitchen is the heart of a home; it’s the family center, it provides comfort, laugher, and healing.”

 

“We are always trying to provide that at 405 – a safe, comfortable space for friends and family to come together.”

 

 The team also practice what they preach, taking the time to get to know everyone and asking about their day, their family, or their plans. “We take pride in the food we serve and do our very best to provide a positive dining experience.”

 

 

To learn more about some of the supports and services available at 405 Alexander, read out latest newsletter.

Sharing a Service User Story

Mitch | An ACES Program Participant

The ACES (Acquiring Community Based Employment Skills) program supports individuals facing multiple barriers to employment by providing training, employability skills, and job search assistance.

 

Thanks to additional funding from the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, the program worked with more people than ever before last year.

 

 

Recently, we caught up with Mitch, a service user who took part in ACES trainings in Prince George. He graciously shared a bit about his experience, and how it has helped him on his career journey.

“As someone who has overcome numerous obstacles, including drug addiction and homelessness, and has gone on to achieve great success, I would highly recommend the ACES program to anyone considering taking part. My journey may have started in a difficult place, but through participating in the program, I was able to find purpose, direction, and a new way of life.”

– Mitch

When I first participated in the ACES program, I was in a place where I was struggling with addiction and ADHD. However, the program, specifically the first aid, S100 and S180 courses [Basic Fire Suppression and Safety, and Fire Entrapment Avoidance], gave me a sense of purpose and something to focus on. I found that learning these life-saving skills and earning certifications was a fulfilling way to stimulate myself and feel a sense of accomplishment.

 

 

Since completing the program, I have made significant progress in my personal and professional life. I have worked as an oilfield medic, become a firefighter, and earned several certifications and seals, including the NFPA 1001 and NFPA 1072 [Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications and Standard for Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Emergency Response Personnel Professional Qualifications]. These certifications demonstrate my specialized training in firefighting and emergency response and show that I meet the rigorous standards set forth by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

 

My journey as a firefighter was a challenging but rewarding experience, and I was able to further my knowledge and skills through the fire academy. I am now the lead rescuer in charge of 2-3 teams of emergency response technicians, and I am able to use my skills and experience to help others in their time of need.

 

One of the most impactful things about my journey is that I have been able to take my struggles and turn them into something positive. I have written a book about ADHD and ways to cope with it and have been published. I am also currently enrolled in 10 courses at Simon Fraser University aimed towards first responder trauma prevention and recovery, with a focus on psychology.

 

Working in a dangerous or highly stressful environment can put our psychological health at risk, just as much as our physical health. This course will provide me with a thorough understanding of mental health issues and the current mental health landscape in Canada. I will learn about several mental illnesses that I may encounter in my work, including schizophrenia, severe depression, personality disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I will also be introduced to the mental health continuum model for categorizing symptoms, as well as the myths surrounding mental health. The course will also cover various stressors and occupational stress injuries, and the attributes and benefits of good mental health.

“Do. Not. Give up. Period. There is hope for all.”

– Mitch

So, to anyone who may be struggling with addiction, homelessness, or any other obstacles, I would say that participating in the ACES program can be a starting point for a new and better life. Embrace the challenges and opportunities that come your way, and never stop striving for your goals.

 

Thank you for your help with that initial course. It really set me up for success.


We’re proud of all Mitch has gone on to achieve, and proud of all our ACES service users.

 

To learn more about the program, visit: https://connective.ca/services/aces/

The ACES Employment Program

For those facing complex barriers, meaningful employment is often a crucial part of the journey to building independence and experiencing success with goals

It’s a fact of life that for most of us, through much of our adult lives, employment is an economic necessity. There are bills to pay, essentials to buy, and all of life’s little pleasures to interact with – everything from going to the movies, to trying a local restaurant, or picking up a new sport.

 

Beyond financial stability, though, employment often provides something more. Maybe it’s a chance to flex our creative muscles, put our problem solving to the test, or simply to take pride in a job well done.

 

For those facing complex barriers, meaningful employment is often a crucial part of the journey to building independence and experiencing success with self-identified goals. But while there are many traditional employment programs in our communities, many are simply not equipped for those facing more complicated situations. For these individuals, complete wraparound supports are needed.

Connective’s ACES Program

ACES (Acquiring Community-Based Employment Skills) is delivered in eight communities across BC, and provides employability and life-skills workshops, safety certificate and skills enhancement training, and supported work experiences to individuals facing multiple barriers to employment.

 

Participants work with ACES staff to identify their career goals and gain access to the skills, certificate courses, and job readiness supports necessary for them to achieve those goals. ACES participants also receive ongoing support and advocacy for success in long-term employment.

ACES Gets a New Look

This summer we were honoured to release new branding for the ACES program. Due to the growth and reputation of the program, we recognized the need for a unique and unified look for ACES, one that represents and speaks to the work of delivery partners across the province and across organizations.

 

Participants work with ACES staff to identify their career goals and gain access to the skills, certificate courses, and job readiness supports necessary for them to achieve those goals. ACES participants also receive ongoing support and advocacy for success in long-term employment.

 

Our New Branding

This new branding is a testament to the important work everyone delivering ACES does every day, and the dedication of service users, staff, and partners. It is professional, innovative, and inviting – reflecting many of the values that are integral to ACES. We’re so excited about the new branding and can’t wait to see what we accomplish together under this new look.

A Person-Centered Approach

The ACES program is employment based, but as with all our programs at Connective, it’s important for us to consider the total picture that any one service user is facing as we support them to achieve their goals. To this end, ACES offers wraparound supports.

 

Earlier this year we sat down with Mandy Foord, the then ACES Program Coordinator for the Fraser Valley region, to learn more about the program and approach.

“We understand that we have to change our approach with everybody that we work with. For some people it takes two days to do everything and to get a job, and for some people it can take two months just to get a resume going. It’s about letting the participant drive the car; we’re just the passenger holding the tools to support them.”

– Mandy Foord

What this looks like, in practice, can vary substantially from person-to-person. For Mandy, it means no two days look the same. Some mornings she is walking around outside with a client who has had tough day and needs an ear, and some afternoons she is at Mark’s Work Warehouse with her arms full of work gear for 20 different program participants.

 

Mandy knows how much it means to clients that we meet them where they’re at; “We get very varied requests that sometimes mean we’re doing things outside of our “normal” job description, but that’s the whole thing with wraparound supports – we recognize that for some people, other things may need to be built up before they can focus on employment.” Whether that means supporting clients directly or connecting them to other resources, ACES staff do everything they can to help build the conditions for success.

Skills Based Certificate Trainings

Every month or two, the team in the Fraser region will run cohort trainings to equip ACES participants with the specific skills they need to achieve job-readiness. Cohorts can focus on everything from first aid or forklift operation to food safety or eyelash extension training.

 

ACES provides lunches every day of the cohort, and staff spend the lunch break chatting with participants about the day’s activities, the goals ahead, and everything in between.

 

For Mandy, seeing participants take part in the cohort trainings is particularly rewarding. “Just watching our participants engage and seeing the lightbulb go off, it’s very exciting. Seeing them complete these trainings and receive these stacks of certificates…it is life changing for some people.”

 

The trainings also provide a unique opportunity to meet new people and build a supportive community as participants progress together through trainings that can last up to two weeks. “There have been a lot of friendships made between participants, and connections with the instructors too…I have people calling me from cohorts from two years ago, and they’re still talking about their buddy that they met in training.”

Jimmy & Christine

When we sat down to chat with Mandy, we were also lucky enough to chat with two ACES participants, Jimmy, and Christine, to hear about their experiences in the program.

 

Both were enthusiastic cohort participants, often going above and beyond to make the most of their training time, and both have reached amazing milestones since. They continue to work with ACES staff for ongoing support as they focus on their next goals. Christine is applying for school to pursue further education in the construction/heavy machinery field, and Jimmy, working already, hopes to one day move to a position where he can give back to the community, perhaps working with a non-profit.

 

We invite you to watch the video below to hear directly from Jimmy, Christine, and Mandy:

For those interested in getting involved with the ACES program, you can contact staff to learn more.

 

Email: aces@connective.ca

Call: 604-226-9360

 

For those in Kamloops, you can reach out to:

Email: kamloopsemploymentprograms@connective.ca

International Overdose Awareness Day

Today, and every day, we strive to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and break down the barriers obstructing support for substance use challenges

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose. On August 31 each year, we come together with communities around the world to remember those who have died from overdose and acknowledge the grief of those left behind. Today, and every day, we strive to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and break down the barriers obstructing support for substance use challenges.

Communities in Crisis

Around the world in the last year, roughly 275 million people have used drugs, an increase of 22 per cent from a decade prior. According to the UN World Drug Report:

In recent years, about half a million deaths annually are attributed to drug use, with more than 70% of these related to opioids. Of those deaths, more than 30% are caused by overdose.

Here in Canada, our communities have been gripped by an ongoing opioid overdose crisis.

 

In 2021 we saw:

  • 7,560 lives lost due to opioid toxicity.
  • 21 lives lost per day.
  • 2,262 deaths here in BC.

 

So far this year we’ve seen:

  • 140 overdose deaths in BC, just in June.
  • 649 deaths in the Metro Vancouver area.
  • 47 deaths in Kamloops (the highest number recorded of any area in the interior).
  • 17 deaths in the Yukon.

 

The stats we can draw on are numerous, just a small fraction represented above, and each one as heartbreaking as the last.

 

It has been six long years since April of 2016, when a sharp increase in deaths and the introduction of fentanyl into the drug supply caused the overdose crisis to be declared a public health emergency here in BC. While this step was taken more recently by the Health and Social Services Minister in the Yukon (in January of this year), the impacts of the crisis have been no less destructive.

 

Every life lost from substance use is one too many, and the statistics above, along with others like them, paint a sobering portrait of the innumerable ways our systems have failed to adequately care for those most at risk. It’s a portrait that should give all of us pause, as we try to reckon with death tolls that continue to rise month after month and year after year.

 

There is simply no excuse.

Working Toward Change

The overdose crisis has wreaked havoc in communities across BC and the Yukon, especially in these last few years as an increasingly volatile drug supply collided with COVID-19 induced isolation, stress, and anxiety, as well as changes in the accessibility of services. The result was a devastating aggravation of an already tragic situation.

 

Despite this, we have seen some positive steps forward.

 

In September 2021, the Yukon opened its first supervised consumption site. There, individuals can access a range of harm reduction supplies, as well as referrals to social, medical, and mental wellness and substance use supports.

 

In January of this year it was announced that, starting in 2023, BC will decriminalize small scale possession of illicit drugs, including opioids. Representing a policy-based shift in understanding of substance use as a health issue, rather than a criminal one, this is a tremendous step forward and one that will have direct positive impacts on our communities.

 

These changes are just two of many that must be taken. We know that punishing and stigmatizing doesn’t work; that it only distances those needing support and causes further harm. We know that compassionate treatment and care is the only way forward. We know we must all do better.

Supporting our Service Users through Crisis

Here at Connective, International Overdose Awareness Day hits close to home. As an organization that supports individuals facing complex challenges, including problematic substance use, we are all too familiar with the pain caused by overdose deaths.

 

As the crisis has worsened in recent years, we’ve redoubled on our efforts to prevent and respond to overdoses among those we work with.

 

This past year our residential programs have increased the frequency of house checks, installed more Brave Motion Sensors and call buttons, stepped up harm reduction supplies and support, and trained an additional 137 staff on the use of Naloxone.

 

Brave Motion Sensors use non-contact technology to prevent overdose by alerting our staff when somebody has been in the washroom for a designated period without moving. This ensures we can act swiftly if somebody requires assistance.

 

Naloxone saves lives by temporarily reversing the effects of opioid overdoses, and our in-house trainers offer regular training sessions for Connective staff on its use. This, together with a range of other formal and informal trainings, helps improve our use of harm reduction, trauma informed, and judgement free practices.

Peer Mentors: Steven’s Story

Back in 2020, we also introduced the Peer Mentors program, in response to the ongoing opioid crisis. The Peer Mentors work in partnership with Correctional Health Services and their Community Transition Teams (CTT) to support people with opioid use disorders as they transition from institutions into the community.

 

Through positive role modelling and a shared understanding of lived experience, Peer Mentors help instill a greater sense of hope and connection for individuals in recovery. Our Peer Mentors support mentees in navigating the substance use and health system, identifying personal goals and community resources, including accompanying them to appointments.

 

A few months ago, we sat down with Steven Pelland, a new Peer Mentor (and former Peer Mentee), to hear his experience with the program, and what inspired him to get involved as a mentor.

 

Steven’s story highlights the transformative power of acceptance and person-centered support, and offers a striking example of the multiplying power of social change. In responding to the overdose crisis, it is just one piece of a much larger puzzle; one that encompasses our work here at Connective, the work of countless other community organizations, government bodies, and individuals. We all have a part to play as we work to end overdose.

Sharing Our 2021-22 Annual Reports

Our 2021-22 Annual Reports are a powerful testament to the ways we’ve continued to grow as an organization, and evolve as essential service providers

Mountainous landscape in BC with road through it

Last week we were excited to share the launch of our 2021-22 Annual Reports. A powerful testament to the countless ways we’ve continued to grow as an organization, evolve as essential service providers, and adapt to new challenges and opportunities, these reports present just a handful of the many possible stories and updates from these last twelve months.

 

We are immensely proud of these achievements, the impacts they’ve had on the lives of our service users, and the ways they’ve contributed to our vision of a safe, healthy, and inclusive community for all.

 

While we invite everyone to read the complete reports, we wanted to share some of our favorite highlights.

Our Year in Numbers

Connective stats from previous year

*Across all regions (Vancouver, North Fraser, South Fraser, Kamloops, Prince George, and Whitehorse)

Orange Shirt Day Event

 

Made possible by a grant from the City of Vancouver, the day saw nearly 100 orange shirts given out, with the option to personalize them using fabric paint and markers. The event captured the attention of passersby, with many stopping to talk, learn, and receive a shirt. $265 in donations were also collected, and given to the Indian Residential School Survivor’s Society.

 

The grant also supported two Indigenous service users to contribute to event programming. Teteulsh#2 opened the day with drumming and singing, and throughout the day shared his experiences with the justice system. Another service user held beaded key chain making workshops, drawing a consistent crowd.

Employment Support through ACES: Jimmy’s Story

Mandy recalls how Jimmy “showed up every day, stayed overtime, and was just very, very interested in practicing on the machines as much as he could.”

“I started the construction course in November, and learned to operate many different types of construction equipment, and took WHIMIS, fall protection, and hazard chemical courses as well…I received all 14 certificates, and I’m quite proud of them.”

“It turned out to be very successful for me, because it led to me getting a job although I have a criminal record.

More than financial, it’s the physical and mental aspect of working that’s keeping me active, healthy, and feeling younger every day…and clear headed, and drug free.”

Whitehorse Residential Support: A Yukon First

WRS has allowed Victoria to return to her community after several years away.

“I felt relieved. I was missing home a lot and feeling out of place…Now I feel recuperated and back on my feet again with my family and friends.”

Coming up on its 1st year of operation, tremendous strides have been made. Victoria has shown proactive and enthusiastic engagement with the program and community.

“It helped me gain my confidence, and my positive outlook of myself.

They’re supporting me and my needs and in everyday tasks, and I just feel appreciated and supported in any way that I need.”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This past year we were excited to take the work and recommendations from our Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Benchmark (GDEIB) committee and DEI audit and build on it with the creation of our new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee. In line with the commitment laid out in our Strategic Plan, the committee was established to provide oversight on the organization’s DEI strategy, and monitor, guide, and report on the implementation of DEI goals within each department.

 

The committee is comprised of volunteer members from across the organization supported by a DEI Executive Sponsor, and supplemented by DEI Department Leads, who report to the committee on the activities of their department and progress towards DEI goals.

Responding to the Housing Crisis: Diversity Flats

As the housing crisis continues to grip communities across Canada, it’s more important than ever that we support affordable housing solutions, through projects like Diversity Flats.

 

A major focus for our team this past year, we were incredibly excited, proud, and eager for its grand opening in early 2022. The result of a partnership between our team, the City of Kamloops, and BC Housing, Diversity Flats is a 60-unit affordable housing project that provides below market rate rents to those living with low to moderate income.

Kevin’s* Story

When Kevin was selected for Diversity Flats, he was able to reunite with his pet, and Connective was able to help bridge the gap between his hotel stay, and the start of his residence with us.

A few pieces of furniture and some necessities were also donated, to help him feel established.

Today, Kevin and his pet are doing very well, and are grateful for the opportunity to be together in their new home.

*For reasons of privacy, we have changed the names of some service users

 

These selections are just so of the many inspiring updates contained in our full annual reports for the 2021-22 year. We invite you to read our whole story, by visiting the link below:

Recognizing Indigenous History Month

As we enter the summer months, we wanted to pause and recognize that June is National Indigenous History Month

National Indigenous History Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the rich histories, cultures, and contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Peoples, while also reflecting on the ways they have systematically and repeatedly suffered at the hands of Canada’s violent colonial past and present. Only by acknowledging, understanding, and confronting the totality of this history can we keep making strides toward a future defined by reconciliation.

 

National Indigenous History Month calls on all of us – as individuals, as staff working with Indigenous people, as an organization, and as a community – to actively contribute to this process. We’re honoured to be able to learn from Indigenous teachings and worldviews every day.

 

With this month top of mind, and with our new supportive housing program set to open shortly in Prince George, we’ve invited Natascha, who has been working to help shape the direction of the program’s Indigenous Liaison role, to share a bit about herself, her experiences, and the intentions of her work with the program in Prince George.

Introducing, Natascha

Bunda Hoonzo!

 

Good morning.

 

My name is Natascha, and I am an Indigenous woman from the village of Fraser Lake. My family comes from the traditional territory of Nadleh. Today, I am writing from the traditional unceded territory of the Lheidli T’enneh, where I am supporting Connective to shape the Indigenous Liaison role for the Prince George Supportive Housing Program. My heart is full of gratitude at the opportunity to share with you.

 

The city of Prince George was built on the original town site of the Lheidli People. Lheidli T’enneh translates to “The People of the Confluence of the two rivers”. Connective’s supportive housing building is only a few blocks away from where the Nechako and Fraser rivers meet. It’s important to bring awareness and understanding of this cultural connection to the land. This is land acknowledgement in action. I invite you to learn the history of the Peoples who are stewards of the land you are on.

 

As I’ve gotten to know Connective it has reminded me of community, and its staff, of my Aunties. An organization dedicated to providing person-centered support, they love people where they are at; support them, role-model, and create opportunities for them to succeed. That is what my Aunties did for me growing up. I do not know where I would be without their support.

 

Our goal for the program, and for the Indigenous Liaison role, is to foster similar feelings of community and support. To create a culturally safe space where everyone can feel at home. To love people where they are at. To treat people like family. Culturally safe space is welcoming, and means valuing the differences, humanity, beliefs, and dreams of everyone. In it, every situation becomes an opportunity to grow and learn; every conflict provides an opportunity to understand each other deeper.

 

Connecting to the land and culture helps me heal and sharing this connection with others deepens my healing. It’s this connection to the land and culture that we hope to bring to program residents in Prince George, through the Indigenous Liaison, and through cultural programming and opportunities to connect with local Dakelh traditional teaching. These are Seasonal Round based connections to the land, including hunting, gathering, planting, restorative practice, community engagement, volunteerism, conservation, and opportunities to earn supplemental income.

 

Both myself and Connective staff are incredibly excited for this program to launch in the coming weeks, and for the Indigenous Liaison to bring their own perspectives and experiences to build on the work we have started, in setting the intentions for this important program piece. I look forward to supporting this ongoing work in any way I can, and to see this program take shape.

 

Snachailya!
Natascha

New Opportunities in Surrey and Vancouver

We’re honoured to announce that we're been selected to operate two new supportive housing developments that will welcome tenants in Summer 2022

Today we’re excited to share some information on two recent housing-related announcements!

 

In Surrey, we have been selected through a competitive process by BC Housing to operate a new 26-unit supportive housing development. This development will support those in the North Surrey community who are or are at-risk of experiencing homelessness, and will offer 24/7 support to residents. Supports that will be available include:

 

  •  Individual and/or group support services such as life skills, community information, and social and recreational programs
  • Assistance connecting with community supports and services such as education, employment, health, life skills, and independent housing (where applicable)
  • Assistance obtaining Income Assistance, Pension Benefits, Disability Benefits, a BC Identification Card, or establishing a bank account
  • Access to two meals per day
  • A full-time Outreach worker to accompany residents in the community and assist them to make connections
  • A full-time Indigenous Liaison Worker, who will work directly with Indigenous residents to ensure the provision of culturally appropriate supports

 

It is an honour to have been selected to operate this development, and to help respond to immediate needs in the community, particularly those who have depended on emergency response supports during the pandemic.

 

In Vancouver, we were excited to introduce what is temporarily known as Kingsway Supportive Housing. With the support of BC Housing and partnership with the City of Vancouver, we will be introducing the first residents to this new 65-unit supportive housing development in the coming months. Like in Surrey, this project will meet the needs of those who are experiencing or are at-risk of homelessness. It will include significant tenant representation from Indigenous and female identifying populations. Kingsway Supportive Housing will offer many of the same wrap-around supports that will play such a big role in our new Surrey project.

Together with our announcement in Prince George from earlier this year, these latest projects speak to the crucial need for accessible housing during the ongoing housing crisis, and to Connective’s commitment and successful track record in this service sector.

 

Through our long history with housing service provision and the application of housing first principles across our programs, we have built a strong reputation for our work in this area. While we celebrate the announcement of these two new projects in Surrey and Vancouver, we invite you to take a walk down memory lane with us and explore the evolution of housing across our organization’s long history.

Our Housing Programs Through the Years

Our roots in the housing sector date back almost 90 years now, and it’s part of our organization that we continue to be incredibly proud of and inspired by.

 

One of our longest standing programs is Hobden House, a community-based residential facility in Surrey, which opened its doors in 1984. It was our very first halfway house and signified a milestone for our team as one of our first residential programs.

 

Since our early days at Hobden House, we’ve continued to build on our housing continuum to support more people experiencing complex barriers in more communities across BC and the Yukon. Our interest in leading non-profit housing efforts is guided by the foundational principle that housing is a human right, and that when every person is both housed and supported, it benefits our entire community.

 

Join us as we explore the evolution of our housing programs over the years, and just a few of the ones that lead us to where we are today:

 

1996: Guy Richmond Place opened, though at the time as a provincial electronic monitoring halfway house located in Surrey and contracted by the provincial government. It was moved to Vancouver just one year later and became the Community Residential Facility (CRF) we know it to be today in 1999, when its contract transferred from the provincial government to CSC.

 

1997: Three new housing programs were established, including South Surrey Residence (SSR), Stephen Kruger House (SKH), and an Electronic Monitoring Program in Burnaby. SSR was a licensed care facility for persons on conditional discharge from the forensic psychiatric hospital, and those with acquired brain injuries. SKH was delivered in association with Simon Fraser University to assist persons with Dual-Diagnosis.

 

1998: We began working with the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to provide outreach and live-in support services to persons with Developmental Disabilities. This was back when MCFD provided supports to adults with developmental disabilities. In 2005, support for adults with disabilities transferred from MCFD to Community Living BC (CLBC), with these first contracts forming the basis of what today is our Community Living Services programming.

 

2001: Vancouver Apartments was puchased! VA is our longest standing Community Living Residential program, providing 24/7 residential support to women and men with developmental disabilities.

 

2003: Miller Block welcomed its first tenants in December 2005, providing safe, affordable housing with added outreach supports. Miller Block continues to operate as a low-barrier affordable housing option with 16-18 hours of support per day.

Exterior of our Miller Block program

 

2005: We took on our first Home Share contract, known at the time as the Independent Care Network (ICN).

 

2007: Tims Manor opened, providing affordable housing in the community of Abbotsford. Over the years our Tims Manor program has evolved to meet the needs of the community, today supporting up to 18 residents as a community-based residential facility.

 

2008: The Homelessness Partnership Initiative was introduced to provide a social safety net for people transitioning from provincial prisons to the community.

 

2012: East 3rd was developed in response to the needs of a neurodiverse individual that was on a supervision order and required 24hr on-site staffing. A year later, the program expanded to serve another individual living with a developmental disability that also required around-the-clock personalized support.

 

2013: Elliot House opened December 2013 in Abbotsford, now our largest community-based residential facility supporting up to 30 residents as they transition to the community from provincial or federal incarceration.

 

2015: We assumed operations of Willow Place, a harm-reduction, trauma-informed housing program for women with FASD experiencing addiction and other complex challenges. We also began delivering Bridge to Housing, a homelessness prevention program supporting people transitioning from provincial incarceration in need of safe, secure housing.

 

2019: Miyáqˈelhá:wetawt opened, providing Indigenous culturally-focused community-based residential support delivered out of Tims Manor in partnership with Elders in the community. Charland Residential first opened in January 2019, providing safe and secure housing within the community to individuals with criminal justice involvement and mental health needs, who are under the care of CLBC.

 

The cultural space at Miyáqˈelhá:wetawt

 

2020: Several housing and homelessness prevention programs began:

  •  We began operating our first housing program in the Yukon, the Supervised Housing and Reintegration Program (SHARP).
  • Community Support Initiatives (initially referred to as the “Bail Project”) provides housing subsidies and personalized support services to folks transitioning from prison to the community who may be at risk of homelessness.
  • We opened Kensington House, which provides temporary housing to refugee claimants and foreign nationals with precarious status in Canada.
  • Dogwood, a Community Living Services Residential program supporting individuals transitioning from hospital settings, opened in December.
  • Pop Up Housing Programs are delivered to provide structured residential supervision and support to isolating individuals reintegrating into the community from federal correctional institutions at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

2021: This year was another big one for housing:

  • Charland Residential welcomed a second staffed residential program in the downstairs part of the home, starting January 1st
  • In April we assumed operations of the Housing First Residence in Whitehorse, Yukon in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations.
  • We began delivering a suite of personalized housing programs through the Samara Program, and our first resident moved in on July 14th.
  • In September we launched Frey Place: our first home-share hybrid to support an individual with criminal justice system involvement and mental health needs to live independently outside of the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, after receiving an absolute discharge.

 

2022: We’ve had an exciting start to the year, with announcements of a few new projects:

  •  First Avenue Supportive Housing: In January we announced a new 50-bed residence in Prince George that will provide housing for those who are at-risk of or experiencing homelessness
  • Teak House: A new (and our first in many years) youth-based program that will offer specialized residential support for two youth who are under the age of 19, in the care of MCFD, and living with developmental disabilities.
  • Hawthorn: Opened in February, this assisted living program will provide support to two clients living with acquired brain injuries. This project is our first housing contract with Fraser Health.
  • Diversity Flats: In partnership between Connective, BC Housing, and the city of Kamloops, this 60-unit affordable housing project opened its doors to residents this spring, and is working toward full occupancy.

Looking Forward

As we look ahead, we know that more housing-focused services are to join this long list. While we do not deliver some of the programs listed here anymore – whether that be due to changes in funding, government priorities, best practices, or the needs of the people and communities being served – we are proud of the dynamic nature of our ever-evolving housing continuum. We are honoured to support people and communities through our housing and other programs, and look forward to continually enhancing the ways in which we can show up for, be part of, and stand with our community.

Supportive Housing at Samara

At Connective, we believe that access to adequate housing is fundamental to the creation of safe, healthy, and inclusive communities for all

At Connective, we believe that access to adequate housing is fundamental to the creation of safe, healthy, and inclusive communities for all. Housing is a human right, and a necessary springboard for people looking to overcome any challenges they may be facing and move toward independence. Whether explicitly through our housing programs, or through the application of Housing First principles wherever possible, we assist people to secure housing that meets their unique needs and provide the community-based supports necessary for them to maintain that housing in the long-run.

 

Our supportive housing programs feature an integrated model, coupling housing with the provision of community-based and living skills support. Service users may live in a Connective housing option or in a community setting and receive person-centered support to meet their goals and needs.

 

Samara is one such program. Developed to provide safe and secure housing for individuals with mental health challenges who have been involved in the criminal justice system, Samara has since expanded to include individuals who experience other challenges navigating daily life.

Getting to Know Samara

At Samara, staff work to be a bridge from institution to independence, supporting residents in developing healthy lifestyle habits and promoting life skills through collaborative learning and shared activities.

 

The name Samara comes from the winged fruit of the elm, ash, or maple tree – trees known for their strength, resilience, and flexibility. These attributes resonated with staff and service users alike, perfectly capturing both the aims of the program, and the strengths of those within it.

 

This past February, we sat down with Travis, the Program Manager for Samara, and James, a resident there, to get a better understanding of the program, its goals, and what an average day in the life might look like. Watch the video below to hear from Travis and James directly.

The Importance of Person-Centered Care

As you can see, the program gives staff and residents plenty of opportunities to connect with one another on a personal level, as they collaborate on progress toward short and long-term goals.

 

For Travis, it’s this person-centered care that is at the core of Samara.

 

“All our clients, I feel like we build connections with them as service workers. We have day to day interactions with them, we really enjoy spending time with them…I know that I’ve had a lot of fun working with the clients and I really, really enjoy it. Person centered is the best value we’ve got because, really, it’s all about them, and making sure that they’re happy, and content…yeah, they’re the focus of why we’re here.”

-Travis

 

This care and interaction – whether it is directly related to skill building or goals, or just in hanging out – has a huge impact on the daily lives of those in the Samara program. ‘’With the companionship between the residents and our workers, I see a lot of impact in just their happiness, mood…everything.’’

 

James echoes this sentiment, as well, ‘’I like this place, I like the staff too, they’re really nice…Not everybody works here all the time, right, so sometimes they have people filling in and I get to see someone that I haven’t seen in a couple weeks or a couple months. Yeah, it’s pretty good.’’

Between the music, the barbecue ribs (one of James’ favorite meals to share with staff), and the fun had over air hockey or sharing James’ YouTube videos (‘’he does kind of infomercials, or commercials, and different kinds of sketches…I think they’re hilarious.’’) it’s not hard to imagine how daily life at Samara might be setting the stage for success when it comes to bigger goals. In reflecting on his time with Connective and at Samara so far, James notes how ‘’it really made me start to feel my freedom, and how important it is.’’

 

We wish James, Travis, and the rest of the team at Samara all the best, and hope you’ve enjoyed this closer look at just one of the many programs here at Connective.

Welcoming Kamloops to Connective

After a significant amount of self-reflection and assessment, the John Howard Society of the Thompson Region (JHSTR) have joined us under the Connective name

We’ve had a few exciting announcements already this year, and today we are pleased to share another. After a significant amount of self-reflection and extensive assessment of their organization, our longtime friends, neighbors, and collaborators at the John Howard Society of the Thompson Region (JHSTR) have transitioned away from that identity and joined us under the Connective name!

 

Much like our own organization, the team in Kamloops has seen tremendous growth in recent years as they have expanded on their established programs and catered to more diverse needs in their community. Through this growth, they began to feel that their name no longer represented who they were, the work they did, and the communities they served. After an extensive process of assessment, engagement, and self-reflection, the Kamloops team recognized that a new name was necessary to reflect their identity, their mission today, and their vision for tomorrow.

“Once we had evaluated each of our options, the decision was actually quite obvious. A shared brand was the most logical next step for our growing organization.”

– Lindsay Lord, CEO of Interior Okanagan Region

At the core of their decision to become ‘Connective’ is our shared DNA. For many years we have worked closely alongside and supported one another. Beyond this working relationship exists much overlap, both in the breadth of our services; the person-centered, housing-first, harm-reduction based care we bring to our service users; and the values underpinning all that we do. We are honoured for the chance to continue our work together under the Connective name, brand, and vision – safe, healthy, and inclusive communities for all.

 

This alignment under Connective will bring significant benefits to the people and communities we serve, both in Kamloops specifically, but across all our regions in general. The sharing of our name and resources will bring increased efficiency, influence, and potential for impact. By enhancing awareness of the Connective brand, we can ensure that our services are reaching those who need them most.

Getting to Know Kamloops

 

The team in Kamloops is made up of: 

 

75 STAFF

 

10+ PROGRAMS

 

262 HOUSING UNITS

 

They provide a continuum of support that enables people to live as independently as possible through dynamic, innovative, and person-centered programs and services spanning all areas from housing, to education and employment, justice services, and community based supports. Through these programs, Kamloops offers support to those experiencing developmental disabilities, physical and mental health issues, addictions, and homelessness, as well as those who have been involved with the health, social, and criminal justice systems.

 

They are determined to deliver supports and services that directly meet the needs of the people and communities we serve, and that contribute to a safe, healthy, and inclusive community for all.

Housing

Kamloops’ housing continuum supports people that are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or require unique residential supports to secure and maintain housing that meets their needs. 

Employment

Kamloops’ employment and education programs support individuals facing barriers to identify, work towards, and achieve their professional and personal goals.

Justice Services

Kamloops’ justice services provide housing, employment, outreach, community reintegration, advocacy, and support to people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system.

Community Living BC Services

Kamloops’ Community Living Services offer community inclusion, residential, and Home Share services to adults with developmental disabilities who have been referred to us by CLBC.

Spotlight on: Diversity Flats

One project that the Kamloops team is particularly excited about right now, is Diversity Flats.  

 

Diversity Flats is a 60-unit affordable housing project, in partnership with BC Housing and the City of Kamloops. The project is nearing completion and, when ready, will support singles, couples, and families with low to moderate income, with rents set (and intended to remain) below market rate.

 

The project will offer:

  •  Accessible suites
  • Studio units and both 1 and 2 bedroom apartments
  • Adaptable 1-2 bedroom adjoining units for supported living arrangements
  • Accessible laundry
  • Indoor and outdoor bicycle and scooter spaces
  • Open parking, with opportunity for an assigned parking stall
  • Opportunity for an indoor storage unit
  • Pet friendly units available

“By supporting the construction of affordable new homes like this, our government is ensuring people can live and stay in their communities, close to family and where they work…These homes will help create a healthy neighbourhood and community that will benefit the city of Kamloops for years to come.”

– David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing

The name of this complex, Diversity Flats, came through careful consideration, with a focus on the inclusion of people of all races, cultures, and genders, and establishing a sense of community and belonging for everyone. The name is in strong alignment with our vision of building safe, healthy, and inclusive communities for all.

 

The application process is open for general inquiries and application packages. Those interested can contact kamloopshousing@connective.ca for more information.

Looking Forward

This is an exciting and significant moment for our organizations. It speaks to the strength of everything that we have accomplished together so far, and holds untold potential for us as we continue to work to support communities across BC and the Yukon moving forward. Together with the Kamloops team under our shared name and vision, we tap into what it truly means to be ‘Connective.’