Health team is Premier’s Award finalist

PORT HARDY - A North Island mental health partnership team has been selected as a Premier's Award finalist

PORT HARDY — A groundbreaking partnership program involving several North Island counseling programs has been recognized with selection as a finalist for the 2011 Premier’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Partnership.

The North Island’s Child and Youth Mental Health Team was recognized for partnering with the office of Youth and Family Addictions, with counselors at public, private and Aboriginal band schools and with Aboriginal elders on behalf of the North Island’s at-risk population.

Of more than 1,000 nominees for six Premier’s Awards for public service, the CYMH team was among four finalists in the partnership category.

“We’re just amazed anyone noticed what we’re doing,” said Wade Maybie, outgoing team leader for CYMH.

The award in partnership went to the Ministry of Environment, which partnered with fisheries, Aboriginal tribes and stakeholders to restore the Tsolum River watershed 10 years after the river was declared essentially dead following years of copper mining.

The Premier’s Awards were presented yesterday at a gala in Victoria. Christine “Wa’ta” Joseph, one of three elders on the CYMH team, and Constance Eagle attended the ceremony.

The partnership was started informally about four years ago by Maybie’s predecessor, Joan Biever, shortly after the CYMH office was established on the North Island. He took the reins and quickly expanded it, emphasizing the inclusion of First Nations participants.

“I think that was step one when Wade came here, finding a way to connect with first nations on the tip of Vancouver Island,” said Wa’ta. “And it’s really worked.”

The partnership team meets each week on the North Island, sharing referals and determining which agency or office is best suited to the needs of each client.

“Any information brought forward can be shared, with consent and under the strictest confidentiality,” said Maybie, who will be succeeded as team leader by Danielle Plummer effective June 13.

“What took (the partnership) to the cutting edge was, Wade worked really hard to incorporate elders onto the team,” said Plummer. “That is unique to the entire province.”