Miranda Free is back, and she’s here to help.
Free is the new Stopping the Violence Counsellor for the Fireweed Collective Society and she will be supporting women who’ve been victims of violence through group work and one on one counselling services.
But while she is new to the position, she is not new to Fort St. James.
Free was born and raised in Fort, but had moved to be near her father for awhile in Roseburg, Oregon in the United States.
While in Roseburg, Free did in-home support work for disabled war veterans.
However, with the decline in the United States’ economy and missing some other things about being home, Free returned to Fort St. James in April of this year.
“I missed medical and dental and the nice perks that Canadians take for granted,” said Free, in addition to missing her family and the traditional food and customs she can practice while back in Fort.
“I really missed my cultural food,” she said. Since she has been back, Free has helped to butcher three bears, two of which she half-smoked and one was butchered and distributed to elders to provide food for the winter.
In her role as a counsellor for Fireweed, Free is currently working on building her caseload and will be mentoring under the experienced Louise Evans-Salt, who was the head of the Fort Alcohol and Drug Counselling Services.
Evans-Salt, who has over 30 years experience in counselling, will be a wealth of information for Free.
Free herself went to school in Terrace, where she ended up living for five years, and she completed her Social Service Program Certificate there.
She will be working on developing group work activities to help women develop self-esteem, communication skills and safety plans and possibly offering some art therapy.
Women can be referred to Free’s services through self-referrals and service agencies such as Nechako Valley Community Services Society or the Ministry of Children and Families.