Laura Burns, John King, and Simon Paul have been running an outreach program for almost three years now on the streets of Port Hardy.
“It’s an outreach program through Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Health and Family Services, and it’s in partnership with the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Men’s Support Group,” said Burns, who is an addictions counsellor. “We come out once a week to different locations, usually Thursday mornings, and try to connect with people that aren’t interested in accessing services, but just need a little support through the day — we provide coffee, muffins, and fruit to help get them through the day.”
She added they also have “a nurse that comes by, and she’s able to assess people to see if they need medical care, wound care, or detox admission, and I provide the addiction services, so I can help people if they’re interested in treatment programs. It gives me a chance to get out of the office and actually be on the street with people, connect and see how they’re doing and what their real struggles look like.”
The outreach program has four dedicated members who all chip in to help the 40-60 people who use the service.
“We only started this because she (Laura) thought of it, and it helps promote my Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Men’s Support Group,” said King.
“It’s a men’s talking circle,” explained Burns. “They provide either breakfast or supper, and they’ve been holding it for a long time — we decided to blend our talents to put this program together.”
“I’m trying to help other people with their drug and alcohol problems,” said King. “We get a few coming to our houses, but not as many as I’d like.”
Burns said she feels the program is really valuable for the District of Port Hardy. “I think the outreach program we run is one piece of a big web that is definitely supporting our street entrenched people.”