History

The Upper Skeena was a region anchored by a forest-based economy. With the loss of the local mill and rapid decline in the forest sector, the region has faced major challenges in re-establishing its economic stability. A recent labour market study identified agriculture as one of four key target areas for stimulating economic growth in the Hazeltons. There is a long history of agriculture production resulting from the unique micro-climate and rich river valley soils. In 2007, the Upper Skeena Development Centre Board took the initiative to purchase the site as the location for a sustainable agriculture resource centre.

The initial years of Senden were spent generating community support, renovating the site and building the wide infrastructure needed for the project. The main funding for this development was provided through Western Economic Diversification and the Bulkley Valley Credit Union, Storytellers’ Foundation and Village of Hazelton were key local partners.

In 2012 and 2013, USDC ran Youth Employment Services (YES) Programs at Senden, building job skills through an experiential education curriculum. In 2014, USDC and Senden partnered with Storytellers’ Foundation to create a new program at Senden that addresses the needs of its youth participants and is embedded in the lands and communities of the Upper Skeena. Funded by the Community Action Initiative, we sought guidance from local leaders and youth to address mental health and substance issues in the Senden program. Between 2014 and 2016: we planned, tested and incorporated our learning to create a holistic program at Senden that integrates on traditional and modern frameworks for well-being.  

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