Through its work on the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative, the South Okanagan Similkameen Division identified the need for support for youth in crisis/high-risk situations. For three years, the Division had tried to engage five First Nations bands in the surrounding area in the work, without success. It was a challenge at times to know who to talk to. 

Everything changed when an unexpected personal connection and conversation over tea led to a gathering of 30 partners. All who attended wanted to meet again. Through a process of sharing stories and contacts, and learning about each other’s assets and interests, the group has been successful in establishing meaningful, ongoing collaboration.

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“When we met that first time with 30 people, I think we had all of the Interior Health managers from acute, community, emergency, mental health and substance use, and we had all of the youth workers from all of the bands in the area. And just to have that depth in the room from the very beginning was very meaningful, and it was very powerful, and there were a lot of comments on the indigenous side about not having access to those people.”
— Tracy St. Claire, South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice