November 2009 is the five year anniversary of "Winds of Change: A Healing Vision." I've been involved with the Winds of Change since its inception. As a committee member the energy and momentum ebbs and flows. Often I am inspired by the commitment of the small group of individuals still supporting the Winds of Change. Sometimes I am awed by just how unique and positive the Winds of Change is in a province divided by municipal and reserve boundaries. At other times I wonder if we are having any meaningful impact. Often I question if the original motivation for the Winds of Change is still relevant to the community and leadership. And always I feel guilty for not contributing more.
Remember that the Winds of Change is a strategy of the Village of Pemberton and the Lil'wat Nation to work on building a healthier future together. Broadly speaking, the strategy takes a harm-reduction approach to the objective of increasing our collective safety and wellness. Five years ago we crafted this vision statement to guide our work:
"We are neighbours, friends and relatives working together to reduce the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol on our communities. We respect our differences and find strength in the common goal of a healthy and safe environment for our children and families."
I am still proud of the work the two communities did to bridge such a challenging and persistent social issue. Nonetheless it is more than fair to ask, "So what? What has been accomplished in five years?"
We have had some success. We have completed a feasibility study into a drug and alcohol treatment centre for the Pemberton Valley; we have completed an age-friendly community plan leading to the "ElderGo!" transportation initiative; we have hosted social and information gatherings; we have increased the communication and co-operation between the respective councils; we have published a community resource directory; and we have developed a poster series highlighting local youth role models.
Of course the list is equally long when you consider what we haven't accomplished. Five of the 13 recommendations have had little to no action. Many of the other recommendations have only been partially addressed. Harm associated with addictions continues to impact our collective health and safety.
So what does it all mean? Is this a story of success or failure?
In April 2009 both councils were asked this very question. They were also asked if the political commitment existed to continue. There was a strong response supporting the Winds of Change vision, however, both councils agreed that a time to regroup was required to give the Winds of Change some new energy.