Our Community: B.C. citizenship medals, rehab program, PAC awards

Salvation Army launches live-in drug-and-alcohol recovery program

The Salvation Army has launched a new live-in drug-and-alcohol recovery program to respond to the 1,716 deaths from illicit-drug overdose in B.C. in 2020.

The nine-bed program is operating out of the Salvation Army’s Addictions and Rehabilitation Centre on Johnson Street.

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Manager Jeffrey Baergen said the program has been in the works for four years, but the process was speeded up when overdose deaths began rising.

The program has room to grow, he said. Adult men are in the program for six months, and can then move to second- and third-stage housing.

“So they can actually stay here for up to two years,” Baergen said.

He said the Salvation Army believes in recovery first, rather than housing first.

“Unhealthy people simply cannot sustain housing,” he said. “Until we prioritize health over housing, the cycle of homelessness will never end.

“Recovery is a piece of a very complex continuum that aims to end that cycle.”

Coalition to End Homelessness executive director Kelly Roth said the Salvation Army is working to fill a gap in homelessness response by providing on-site access to substance-abuse treatment and support services.

Program funding is from the Salvation Army and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

Victoria man among 3 Island residents named as good citizens

Victoria’s Andrew Beckerman is among three Vancouver Island residents to be awarded a 2021 B.C. Medal of Good Citizenship for outstanding service to the public.

The retired architect and businessman was board chair at AIDS Vancouver Island and is a long-time supporter of Cool Aid. His contributions to Cool Aid have reached over $500,000, and his leadership helped the social organization’s annual Homecoming Gala raise $394,000 over three years.

His volunteer work earned him the Generosity of Spirit Award in 2018 at Victoria’s National Philanthropy Day, and in 2017, he pledged his $750,000 art collection to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Beckerman is among 14 people from around the province to receive the B.C. Medal of Good Citizenship this year, along with fellow Island honourees Bob McMinn of the Highlands and Imogene Lim of Nanaimo.

McMinn’s history of volunteerism stretches back to the 1960s. When the Highlands was threatened by development, McMinn founded the Highlands District Community Association, which became integral to the area’s incorporation. He went on to become its first mayor.

He has spent 53 years in community service, contributing over half a million dollars in money, land and materials.

At 96, he continues to serve the community on a council committee and as a board member for the various groups he created through the years.

Lim is a Vancouver Island University professor who advocates for social justice with Chinese-Canadian history in mind. She is descended from a family member who had to pay the Chinese head tax — a fee for entering Canada.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been collaborating on a project looking at racism on central Vancouver Island.

Since the medal program started in 2015, recipients have included 90 citizens and two communities — Tofino and Ahousaht were lauded for their citizens’ efforts to help after the Leviathan II whale-watching vessel capsized in 2015.

Medals will be presented in a few months at virtual ceremonies.

Meanwhile, entries are being accepted for another major provincial award, the Order of British Columbia, until April 9. That honour goes to people who have served with distinction in any field to benefit others.

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The B.C. SPCA has opened a recovery and adoption barn in Nanaimo for abused and neglected farm animals. B.C. SPCA

B.C. SPCA’s Nanaimo opens home for abused and neglected farm animals

The B.C. SPCA has opened a recovery and adoption barn in Nanaimo for abused and neglected farm animals.

The facility has been named Seasted Stables in recognition of funding provided by the Seasted Foundation.

The site includes a 2,500-square-foot barn with four stalls, a treatment area and a pasture. It is located on the same property as the SPCA Community Centre on Westwood Road.

There are similar facilities for farm animals in Surrey and Kelowna.

“The Vancouver Island cruelty investigations team is really looking forward to having a dedicated B.C. SPCA facility for horses and other farm animals from our cases,” said Kaley Pugh, regional manager of cruelty investigations. “It will be a huge relief for our officers to know that when there’s an animal in distress, we’ll have somewhere to take them for care and recovery.”

In 2020, the B.C. SPCA investigated 1,342 cases of abuse and neglect involving farm animals, with 217 of them on Vancouver Island.

Parent advisory councils group brings back annual awards

After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils is bringing back its annual awards program.

Director of communications Angela Carmichael said she is determined to make the awards happen, virtually or otherwise. VCPAC is an umbrella group for parent advisory councils throughout the Greater Victoria School District — the Island’s largest, with about 20,000 students.

It was Carmichael’s suggestion that the awards make a return in 2021

“I wanted to talk about staff, administration, volunteers and students who are doing really great work when faced with these new adversities,” she said. “We really do need to bring a little bit of joy and acknowledgement to what’s going on in our district.”

Previously, the awards involved nomination forms and multiple signatures, but that’s being replaced bya simple email system. Just email Carmichael at awards@vcpac.ca by May 9 explaining why you think someone should be nominated for one of the honours.

There are nine awards available:

• Victor Gim Inspirational Student Award — For a student who demonstrates courage under challenging circumstances, mentors others and demonstrates optimism for the future

• Gail Edwards Memorial Award — Named for a former parent-volunteer who lost her battle with cancer, it goes to someone who has a positive impact on students and shows passion and commitment to their well-being.

• Parents’ Choice Award — Given to a district employee with an outstanding commit- ment to the school community and who encourages students to do their best while showing leadership and creativity.

• Arkell Award — Named for the volunteer team of Tom and Marilyn Arkell, who served Burnside Community School when their children went there and then returned years later, the award goes to someone who does not have a child in school.

• Inspirational Parent Advisory Council Award — Goes to a PAC that does thing like increase parent engagement, advocate for a specific issue that affects students, and increase opportunity and equity for students.

• New Teacher Award of Distinction — An award for a teacher who has had a teaching certificate for fewer than five years and shows a desire to continuously improve.

• Fine Arts Champion Award — For anyone who champions student opportunities in the fine arts.

• School Partnership Award — An award for an administrator who promotes partner- ship in a school, creates opportunities for shared decision-making and supports the coming together of staff and parents.

• John Young Advocacy Award — Named for late school board trustee John Young, who was also a teacher, a principal and a professor known for his support of students and the concept that none of them should have to pay school fees.

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