With extreme weather conditions on the rise in British Columbia, access to community locations for shelter in the winter months and staying cool in the summer have never been more important. In Northern BC, higher annual summer temperatures and more extremely hot days is dangerous for the health and wellbeing of communities and is responsible for the highest number of weather-related deaths annually.
“It is absolutely critical for people to have access to warming and cooling centres," says Emily Christensen-Sweeney, Program Coordinator, Central Interior Native Health Society CINHS). “Especially with the extreme weather events we've been seeing, community centres can be a life saver."
CINHS is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing culturally safe and trauma informed health care to Indigenous people in and around Prince George, as well as those living close-to, or on, the streets.
With support from the First Nations Health Authority's (FNHA) Urban and Away-from Home Funding Initiative, CINHS was able to purchase new materials for its warming and cooling stations and provide longer service hours during periods of extreme weather. The FNHA initiative provides grants to organizations who support the UAH population in BC.
“Thanks to the FNHA and their Urban and Away-from-Home team, we've been able to provide warming and cooling centres for folks to escape the harsh weather we've been continuing to experience this past year," says Christensen-Sweeney. “We're able to offer temperature-controlled shelter, warming blankets, food and beverages and activities to ensure those facing homelessness or those who just need a place to cool off or warm up have a safe space to gather. The grant we received ensures that Indigenous people in the Prince George area always have a safe space to turn to."
As an added bonus, the warming and cooling centres provide an opportunity to hear from the Urban and Away-from-Home population to better understand their needs to ensure well-rounded care is provided. CINHS's centre and the services they provide have allowed for a multitude of social and cultural connections to be made for the community.
Apply for funding
Grants of up to $25,000 are available to support the First Nations UAH population in areas of primary care, mental health and wellness, the toxic drug response and/or addressing racism in health and wellness. We accept funding applications from BC First Nations communities, First Nations educational institutions and urban Indigenous health and social organizations that provide services to the UAH population in BC.
The deadline to submit an application for 2023/24 funding is Friday October 27, 2023. See full funding criteria or submit an application for funding here.
If you have questions or experience any challenges with the online application form, please send an email to email@example.com.
About the Central Interior Native Health Society
CNIHS is an interdisciplinary team comprised of health care professionals, including doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, psycho-social workers, mental health clinicians, outreach workers and cultural supports such as Knowledge Holders and Elders.
They aim to assist people to access care for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing by bridging the gap between western medicine and traditional methods of health and wellness.
Learn more about CNIHS here.