A wellness and resilience centre has been set up in North Vancouver to offer support to people impacted by the horrific incidents at Lynn Valley Village at the weekend.
Community members have been left shocked and traumatized after one woman was killed and a further six people were wounded, when a man went on a stabbing spree outside the village’s library and shopping complex on Saturday afternoon.
To offer support, North Shore Emergency Management has opened a Wellness and Resilience Centre out of the Karen Magnussen Community Recreation Centre between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. starting today [March 29].
Emily Dicken, director of North Shore Emergency Management, said the municipality recognized the trauma that an event like this causes across a community.
“People process it in incredibly different ways,” she said. “Even for the people that weren't directly at the site, or directly impacted by the event, there's so much indirect trauma that happens when a community sense of safety is impacted.”
“A centre like this is an opportunity to really care for community and centre community wellness, in the space of response.”
On site there will be a number of service providers, including grief counsellors, clinicians and clinical support workers from the disaster psychosocial program, explained Dicken.
“What they're able to do is really provide people with psychological support and psychosocial support, so that people can work through that space of trauma and grief or crisis that they might be experiencing,” she said.
“If they need more support than can be provided at the centre, it's that mechanism to help people access more formal and clinical spaces of mental health support, so they can work on a referral basis to clinicians.”
The temporary support centre will run for a minimum of seven days and continue based on the community’s needs.
“If we're seeing really significant uptake and continued uptake, then we'll keep the centre open as long as folks need it," Dicken said.
She also reminded the community it was normal to feel “a deep sense of loss and a deep sense of a lack of security after an event like this” and support could come in many forms.
“I think the important thing is to know that the North Shore is an incredibly tight-knit community,” she said. “So, it's important to feel that wraparound of support and know that it comes from many different places. It can come from your family and in your home, it can come from your neighbours, and it can come from other parts of the community from either this wellness space that's been stood up or it can come from a more clinical space, or a space of spirituality and connection to religious community and affiliations.
“So, there are so many spaces and places with people that want to help and support, and to find that support that works for each individual is really important.”
She said those who were not comfortable going to a physical location because of COVID-19 could explore remote access to support, including the 24-hour Mental Health BC online service, which can also be reached by calling 310-6789.
North Vancouver School District offers support to parents and students
On Sunday, Mark Pearmain, North Vancouver School District superintendent, also sent a letter to parents addressing the tragic incident and offering advice on where they could find support, after it came to light that a teacher at Ecole Argyle Secondary, Sheloah Klausen, was injured during the attacks.
Pearmain said he was aware other members of SD44's parent and guardian community were also directly impacted and a number of students were in the area and witnessed the incident unfold.
“We are sensitive to the fact that such an incident has an impact on students and staff,” he wrote.
“To support our school communities, counsellors from the School District Critical Incident Team are available to assist students individually or in small groups. Counselling support is also available to school district staff.”
He encouraged parents to openly discuss with their child their reactions, concerns and feelings and to please contact their school principal if they believe their child needs additional support.
“As this incident will be felt across the school district and larger North Vancouver community, I ask that we hold the victims and their families in our thoughts and that we work together to support our friends, family, neighbours, community members, colleagues, and students during this time,” Pearmain said.
“North Vancouver is a strong, vibrant, and caring community. I firmly believe that we, as a community, will rise up and support each other during this challenging time.”
Resources available to the community:
• North Shore Emergency Management is offering a North Shore Wellness & Resilience Centre located out of the Karen Magnussen Community Recreation Centre between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. starting Monday, March 29. The Centre will be a space for members of the North Shore community to access wellness supports.
• Foundry North Shore provides virtual drop-in support for youth aged 12 to 24. Call 604.984.5060 to arrange a Zoom call.
• Family Services of the North Shore at 604.988.5281
• Hollyburn Family Services at 604.987.8211
Additional resources for parents and community members:
• Responding to Stressful Events: Helping Teens Cope
• Responding to Stressful Events: Helping Children Cope
• Responding to Stressful Events: Taking Care of Ourselves, Our Families and Our Communities
Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.