People living with complex mental illness and addictions have access to a new purpose-built treatment centre with a model of care that is innovative and progressive – the first of its kind in North America.
The Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction is a 105-bed centre that provides several levels of care within the same facility to help people progress to their recovery and eventually reintegrate into their home communities.
“The Red Fish healing centre and its innovative care model supports different care needs in the same facility, which allows people to progress as their needs change on their journey to recovery,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I am grateful to all the partners who worked so hard to make Red Fish Healing Centre a reality. It is an important step in our work to transform mental health and substance-use care in B.C.”
The Red Fish healing centre treats mental illness and addictions simultaneously. People will receive trauma-informed, culturally safe care that focuses on mental and physical wellness. The goal is to help people through their recovery so they can gradually transition to care in their communities. All elements of the Red Fish healing centre, including green spaces, natural light, private client rooms and a therapeutic community are designed with the needs of clients and patients in mind. Research shows that a client’s physical environment is an important part of their healing, particularly if they have experienced trauma.
“There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment model,” said Lynn Pelletier, vice-president, BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services. “The Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction is leading change by treating the whole person, providing care for mental health and substance-use issues simultaneously, and drawing on the most current research evidence and person-centred care models available.”
The centre also includes research, education and teaching spaces where care providers will be able to work with researchers to build capacity within the program and around the province and ensure that new knowledge is put into practice. Virtual health technologies and infrastructure will also allow care providers to offer virtual psychiatric and medical care services to clients, and will enable clients to connect with loved ones and support services around the province.
“Today marks a special day for kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation as we bear witness to the opening of the Red Fish healing centre on our ancestral, traditional and unceded lands located at səmiq̓wəʔelə,” said Chief Ed Hall, kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) First Nation. “This day is also a powerful symbol of our people reconnecting with these lands, which have been a source of great healing, safety, sustenance and spirituality since time immemorial. We are proud to have our language, culture and healing practices incorporated throughout the centre, from the addition of our name in han̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (θəqiʔ ɫəwʔənəq leləm) to the use of traditional healing practices such as smudging and the powerful display of the House Post at the entrance to the centre. Carved from a 600-year-old tree, it reminds visitors that they are on our sacred lands and stands tall, representing a warrior who protects the people who come here in search of healing.”
Kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation contributed to the design of the centre and therapeutic programming to help ensure care at Red Fish is culturally safe. The hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language is used throughout the centre and the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation commissioned a number of pieces of art, including an Indigenous mural on the wall of the Hummingbird Room, a space where spiritual healing activities such as smudging will take place and a house post, the first to be erected in the ancestral homeland of kʷikʷəƛ̓əm in 120 years.
The centre replaces the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction and adds more provincial capacity to support people with the most severe, complex substance use and mental health issues. It opened on Oct. 12 on səmiq̓ʷəʔelə, or the Place of the Great Blue Heron, the land formerly known as Riverview.
Note: For the correct presentation of the First Nations’ proper names in this release, refer to: https://www.kwikwetlem.com/
Selina Robinson, MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville –
“For too long, treatment and supportive recovery services were neglected in B.C., and many people have struggled to get the care they needed. I’m grateful that this first-of-its-kind healing centre in North America will offer trauma-informed and culturally safe care to the people of Coquitlam and all of British Columbia. This is an important milestone in our goal to transform mental health and substance use care in B.C.”
Fin Donnelly, MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain –
“We know from research that treating mental health and substance use together can make a huge difference for people living with addiction challenges. The Red Fish healing centre is an important part of the seamless and effective system of mental health and addictions care that British Columbians need and deserve. I’m grateful to the Province, the Kwikwetlem First Nation and all the partners involved in bringing this facility, that will provide evidence-based care in a safe and inviting environment, to the people of Coquitlam and the rest of B.C.”
David Byres, president and CEO, Provincial Health Services Authority –
“It takes vision, hard work and dedication to create a world-class facility like the Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction. I’m so proud of our team at BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, as well our partners in government, the community and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm, for all that they’ve done to make this a reality. This centre will benefit people from across B.C. as they do the difficult work of healing and recovery.”
Shayne Ramsay, CEO, BC Housing –
“Alongside our redevelopment partners, the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation, we’re thrilled to welcome the Red Fish healing centre to səmiq̓ʷəʔelə. Facilities like the Red Fish healing centre are a critical part of developing an integrated community of mental health care excellence on the lands. We’re grateful for the hospitality of the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm peoples, as they welcome this new facility onto their territories, and we at BC Housing congratulate our government partners for developing a world-class example of innovative mental health and substance-use care.”
Phil, former client, BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services –
“For many people with mental health and addiction issues, the Red Fish healing centre will be their inspiration for a new and fruitful recovery journey. As a former client of BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, I know how important it is to have an opportunity to change addictive habits and deal with emotional, psychological and spiritual struggles properly. I am now able to wake up each day and feel alive, content and hopeful about where my life is heading. I am deeply indebted to all the health-care professionals and other staff that helped me on my recovery, as well as to my peers. As the doors of Red Fish healing centre open, I know that it will bring the possibility of purpose, meaning, connection and hope for people across British Columbia.”
- In a year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health or substance use issue.
- Research shows that more than half of people with a substance-use disorder will experience a mental health issue.
- The economic cost of mental illnesses to the Canadian health-care and social support system was projected as $79.9 billion for 2021.
- Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels and cultures However, systemic inequalities, such as racism, poverty, homelessness, discrimination, colonial and gender-based violence, among others, can worsen mental health and symptoms of mental illness.
- The Province invested $130 million to fund the capital cost for the Red Fish Healing Centre.
For more information about the Red Fish healing centre, visit:
To learn more about Provincial Integrated Mental Health & Addiction Programs, visit: