We’re excited to welcome Belle Beach-Alcock to the PHS family, where she will be taking up residence as our Indigenous Health Services Manager.
Belle brings a wealth of compassionate and culturally informed social work experience to the position, and has tenured at community advocacy organizations and research institutions such as WAVAW and the VIDUS Study.
“I’m Metis, Cree and Sioux on my mother’s side, and English on my father’s side. I received my Bachelor of Social Work from the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, which is an Aboriginal Post-Secondary in Burnaby. We had Elders on staff and I took a myriad of different decolonization classes. My cohort started a nature-based based cultural immersion program. We spent 6 days in nature doing ceremony.”
Belle’s career took off after she matriculated from Nicola Valley, and has taken her to many organizations where she applied her skills to positions requiring case management, outreach and clinical research. “I’ve worked with Aboriginal women and families with the Ministry of Children and Families in Child Protection. I also spent time at the Aboriginal Mother’s Centre as the Transformative Housing Program Manager. At that time, it was a new organization that wanted to house at-risk mothers and children who were having trouble finding housing and would benefit from supportive housing. I ran culturally based programming there.”
Belle is also very familiar with the DTES, and our long-standing relationships with service providers and communities in the neighbourhood. “I worked at the Downtown Community Court as the Watari Outreach worker. It gave me a good understanding of mental health outreach teams—we were able to connect with people and get them to see a doctor and get housing. I got a good idea of how the legal system worked.”
When asked how she sees culture and healthcare as an intertwined practice, she talked about the many non-traditional ways her career has seen the two support one another. “For example, I always do smudging and circle smudges with staff as part of the teachings that I learned at Nicola Valley—I was so privileged and honoured to have those teachings, so I feel like I have to share those teachings in a respectful and non-imposing way. Everyone has gifts and teachings and something to share— I am excited to bring those teachings forward, and feel with my lens can be very empowering and decolonizing, especially for women.”
Belle has spent time with the MAPS Canada study, and looks forward to what advanced in harm reduction can come from the published findings once the trails have finished. Harm-reduction is an integral part to her practice, “I’ve been working for the BCCSU for the past three years. I have got a really good grasp of what longitudinal research in community entails, and where people were at in community. I also worked for AESHA, which evaluates sex workers’ access to health care and community-based services.”
Belle is excited to work alongside everyone in the PHS family and apply her learning to the position. “I love PHS and I’ve always heard such good things. It has a great reputation in community and I like how down to earth people are.”
“I am really excited to ask the community and come up with different ideas for programs to implement at the space,” she says with a smile, “I am excited to share ideas for programming. I am excited to get to know everybody and learn from people. I’ve missed working with the Aboriginal community, and I felt like I was missing that in my life and in my work.”
You can visit Belle Monday to Friday at the Indigenous Health Hub, located at the corner of Carrall and East Hastings.