South Peace News
Residents of Driftpile Cree Nation are promoting a sober lifestyle in a united force.
About 30 people participated in a Sobriety Walk from the band office to the Driftpile Community Hall on Dec. 16.
A total of 54 people gathered at the hall.
The Sobriety Walk was organized by Laurent Isadore, who works for the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program.
“I scheduled the Sobriety Walk and Rally in the dark to symbolize, in metaphor, what it is like for those suffering in addictions,” Isadore says.
“The Sobriety Walk is an opportunity for the community to come together and speak to a growing pandemic plaguing our Indigenous communities, substance abuse and addictions, primarily meth.”
He says Christmas and New Year’s is especially tough for addictions, depression and suicide.
“I wanted to do something to help empower our people and give them strength, which is why I told the people in the walk to think and pray for those suffering, give them your energy and think of those that have passed on and know that they are with you,” Isadore says.
He revived the walk after many years to give it the respect it deserves, as it was last coordinated by the late Donna Giroux who was a NNADAP worker at the time.
Lights were handed out before the walk.
“Those who walked with the lights acted as beacons of hope lighting up the darkness and showing the way for those suffering,” says Isadore.
“You are not alone.”
Several people shared their stories at the rally.
Lakeshore Regional Police Service Inspector Dean Syniak says the force is a strong partner in promoting sobriety.
“It’s important that our services work with the community to battle addiction,” Syniak says.
“Police will work a lot closer with NNADAP and what they provide, primarily in after-care.”
He says addictions have become unhealthy in communities.
“Addictions lead to other areas of policing, including mental health issues,” Syniak says.
“Mental health is a big thing, especially with meth.”
Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council opiod awareness co-ordinator Sandra Willier talked about the steps to recovery and how to achieve them.
“No more negative attitude towards people who use drugs or towards their friends and family members,” she says.
“No more use of negative labels in everyday conversations and in the media.
“No more use of negative images of people who use drugs or their families.”
World champion Indigenous runner Rilee Manybears of the Siksika First Nation near Calgary was the guest speaker.
He had a rough childhood with dysfunction in the home, abuse, alcoholism, drugs, suicide and was leading a self-destructive lifestyle.
Then he saw a way out, which was running.
Since then, he turned his life around and now offers himself as role model and mentor.