Introduction to VisionQuest
The VisionQuest Recovery Society was incorporated in 1995. It first came to the attention of the public in 1997. In that year the VisionQuest Canoe Journey took place. This was a one-thousand-mile journey from Hazelton to Victoria, coinciding with the 1997 Tribal Journeys and the North American Aboriginal Games. The journey brought together people from many diverse backgrounds.
RCMP S/Sgt. Ed Hill and noted west coast artist Roy Henry Vickers had the vision of seeing the opening of a facility for the treatment and healing of addictive personalities. The two artists collaborated to paint a picture, and with the support of the RCMP behind them, the sale of limited prints would begin the fundraising. The sale of the limited-edition prints of the picture they created, aptly named “Sheep Standing By Himself” was instantly successful and raised the first $100,000 for the Society.
Since 1997, the Society has continued to work towards its vision of creating safe places for people of all nations to recover from the abuses in their lives. In 2005, the society opened Hope House situated in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. In the years that followed VisionQuest opened seven more Assisted Recovery houses, including one specifically for women, all south of the Fraser River from Surrey out to Abbotsford.
In 2013 VisionQuest developed a new Recovery Model when they opened a 60 bed facility ‘VQ The Creek’, located in the old Centre Creek corrections camp on Chilliwack River Road. This model involved all new male VQ clients spending three months Stage 1 recovery in a more isolated setting where they could focus on their recovery plans. In 2015 VisionQuest opened a second 60 bed facility in an unused corrections camp near Logan Lake, located 80 kms south west of Kamloops in the interior of British Columbia. Today (2023) VisionQuest operates the 60 bed Stage 1 facility ‘VQ The Lake’ along with Abbotsford’s Discovery House, a 10 bed men’s Stage 2 house and in Surrey, Harte House, a 10 bed women’s recovery facility for Stage 1 and 2 clients. VisionQuest carries a daily client load of 80 clients.
While maintaining its daily focus on the health and recovery of its clients, the Society continues to work towards its ultimate goal of making our successful program widely available to more fully meet the needs of the seemingly endless number of potential clients who still suffer.
The VisionQuest Recovery Society is a non-profit society incorporated under the terms of the Societies Act. It is a registered charity recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency. The reporting requirements of those registrations are assiduously maintained and can be verified on the CRA website. VisionQuest is also registered under the Assisted Living Registry in British Columbia as Supportive Recovery.
Under the general guidance of the Board of Directors, the Executive Director and staff of the Society manage the day-to-day affairs of the program.
From 2000 to 2006, the Chair of the Board of Directors was the former Attorney-General of British Columbia, Mr. Richard Vogel. From 2006 until 2017 the Chair was Earl Moulton, Assistant Commissioner, Ret’d, RCMP, and from 2017 – 2022 the Chair was Gary Bass, Deputy Commissioner, Ret’d, RCMP. Currently occupying the role of Chair is David Burns, Ret’d Victoria PD and owner/operator of Burns Clinical Life Options, specializing in mental health and addictions care.
Magnitude of Problems to Solve
- April 2016 B.C. Health Officer Dr. Perry Kenda declared a public health emergency for B.C.’s overdose crisis. Since that announcement, as of Jan 31, 2023, at least 11,625 people have lost their lives to drug poisoning (B.C. Coroners Service, 2023). An average of 6.8 people are dying per day in B.C. as a direct result of this crisis.
- Over representation in incarceration. Over half the federal prison population struggles with Substance Use Disorder (SUD). The Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse (CCSA) (2019) released a report on substance abuse within the federal corrections system. 7/10 offenders report substance misuse within the year before their incarceration. 51% of offenders have reported an alcohol problem, while 48% reported problems with other drugs. The cost to the criminal justice system in Canada from SUD in 2020 is $9.2 billion.
- Truth and Reconciliation. The First Nations population in Canada is approximately 5% of the total Canadian citizens. First Nations groups in federal institutions are overrepresented at 31%. In treatment and recovery, that number rises to approximately 40% on average. Addictions and trauma in the First Nations communities have been shown to be caused by ongoing colonization, racism and residential schools.
An important measure that VisionQuest utilizes for success is continued abstinence. Not counting the approximately 25% of new clients who are not ready for recovery and leave in the first few weeks of their six month commitment to the Society, 64% of clients remain abstinent after 90 days. Social impact measurements are a vital tool in the supportive recovery sector as substance use disorder does not just affect the user but also the wider community. As a large number of our residents are entrenched in the justice system, measuring recidivism rates is a key performance indicator of our wider impact. 89% of residents who complete our 1st stage program do not go on to reoffend and 81% of those who remain with us longer than 2 months also do not go on to reoffend in our communities. These numbers illustrate the necessity and success of programs like ours where folks can access care rather than sitting in a jail cell.
The Value of VisionQuest
“SUPPORTIVE RECOVERY IS UNDERVALUED AND UNDERFUNDED!”
Given the opioid crisis that currently plagues Canada, helping people suffering from substance use disorder find recovery is beyond any dollar value for many families. It has been the provincial government’s position that each of our clients will cost the justice and health care systems $199,000 in services per year while in active addiction. The RCMP have reported that each active addict creates approximately $350,000 in property crime annually. Meanwhile, the government pays $35.90 per day, or $1077 per month for each client receiving social assistance, for an annual savings of $186,000 in services and erasing the property crime impact of an individual’s addiction. (In other words, for each day a client is with VisionQuest, the government is saving $121.10 in services, and having a real and measurable impact on crime).
Another way of measuring the value of VisionQuest’s program is against the most usual alternative for its residents. The current cost of keeping an inmate in provincial custody is $240 per day. Given that 75% of our clients are on some form of judicial release, VisionQuest is saving the provincial treasury roughly $9,400 every day.
The savings quoted above do not reflect the added collective benefits of reduced crime, insurance claims and decreased corrections costs. Nor do dollar figures exist to adequately represent the societal benefits in family reunification, reconciliation and increased productivity.
The Future of VisionQuest
For the past 18 years the VisionQuest tagline was “Crime Prevention through Rehabilitation” and we have enjoyed many successes. VisionQuest is creating new relationships with groups and organizations who have clients in need of recovery. We have achieved our goals to include more counselling and client services at ‘VQ The Lake’. We currently enjoy an educational partnership with School District 73 (Kamloops) who are assisting clients to complete courses required for them to receive their Dogwood Diplomas. We are now working towards our goal of increasing our Stage 2 housing for women as well as adding Stage 3 long term sober living for men and women.
The future, though not guaranteed, looks good for VisionQuest Recovery Society.
Any comments or concerns can be directed to our Executive Director, Megan Worley who can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org