A few clients taking in the sights from the concierge area in the new Red Fish Healing Centre.
July 19 was a memorable day for a group of clients from the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction. Together with some members of a committee of people with lived experience who work to help improve care at Burnaby Centre, they were among the first to see the new Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, which opens on October 12.
"This place is more than just treatment. It’s healing and recovery."
Responses and reactions were enthusiastic—particularly from those who have spent time at Burnaby Centre, a smaller and older facility that the Red Fish Healing Centre will replace.
“The fact that it’s called a healing centre is amazing,” says Charlotte, a committee member. “This place is more than just treatment. It’s healing and recovery. Now I’m living a good, happy life, and that’s what I want for people who went through what I went through.”
Upon entering the centre, clients were greeted by large windows and bright, open spaces. Both are intentional elements of Red Fish’s trauma-informed, recovery-oriented design.
“The air in here feels so fresh; it’s so bright and open,” said one client from the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.
Another client said, “I like the natural light. Some places you get a headache just walking around from the light, but this is so calm. I like the dimmer light.”
“There are things that family members or loved ones don’t think of when they think about treatment—little details about the space,” added William, one of the committee members, who works at Fraser Health. “These are the things that are so important to the clients who will be in here, like open spaces, bedroom doors that don’t slam, quiet rooms. It’s all important.”
“Wow. This place is huge!” said Twyla, another client. “It’s bigger than Drake’s mansion. It’s so cool, there’s so much space. Every room is amazing, so beautiful.”
During the tour, the group met Rosalie, the local artist commissioned to work on the mural in the Hummingbird Room, a space where spiritual healing activities such as smudging will take place. The mural depicts important elements of Indigenous culture and local connections to the land. Rosalie came out to meet the visitors, explaining the vision of her piece and why it’s so important to have culturally connected art in the healing room. The group was impressed and honoured to see Rosalie at work.
"The mural is amazing. It’s so cool to see this.”
“The mural is great; there’s so much in it,” said Twyla. “I love the waves and the fish. There’s even people in canoes. It’s beautiful.”
“I’m Métis, even though I don’t look like it,” said Charlie, another client. “I look White. But I can feel the Spirit in this painting. The mural is amazing. It’s so cool to see this.”
Clients also explored the fully equipped fitness centre, the library, the therapeutic kitchen (a home-like kitchen where they will learn to prepare nutritious meals for themselves), and the music room.
Clients were able to visit one of the 15-bed living units, designed to feel more like a home than a hospital. Each client will get their own bedroom and a private bathroom, which will help provide privacy, dignity, and a quiet space to relax and reflect after a day of treatment. The private space is especially important for clients who may find communal living situations stressful.
“The rooms with their own bathrooms are great,” said one client. “No more walking 10 minutes to get to the washroom at night. Sometimes I had a hard time and couldn’t make it to the bathroom. This is amazing that we all have our own space now.”
“The bedroom windows are huge and they even open up a little,” said another client. “We’ll have fresh air and a nice view.”
Each unit also has a quiet space for clients who want to relax, as well as an eating area, a large outdoor patio and a TV lounge.
“It’s peaceful here. There is more space now to relax. This is more like the things we want in our home place. It feels homey.”
One of the committee members was especially pleased about the dedicated quiet room on each unit. “It’s peaceful here. Sometimes things can get loud and busy with music and lots of people. There is more space now to relax. This is more like the things we want in our home place. It feels homey.”
Gabriel, another client, was impressed by the time that went into planning for Red Fish. “It feels like the people who made this place really care. It’s a step in the right direction for us.”