‘Whitefish Strong’ sends message

Whitefish Lake First Nation chief and council gave full support for the walk. Left-right are Councillor Darren Auger, Chief Albert Thunder, Councillor Richard Laboucan and Councillor James Nahachick. Missing is Councillor Hugh Tallman.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Whitefish Lake First Nation is doing everything it can to take back its community from the growing drug, addictions and violence problems.

With full support from chief and council, a “Taking back our Community” walk was held Sept. 11 beginning at the school and ending at the baseball diamonds.

Chief Albert Thunder told the Grade 4-9 students and community members they must rally to “campaign against drugs, campaign against gangs, campaign against all the nonsense in the community.”

He added people must stand up and get involved instead of succumbing to the Monkey See Monkey Do mentality.

“… instead of listening to what needs to be done.”

He shared the story of his youth.

“When I was your age we didn’t have the drug problems we have today,” he said. “We had alcohol but not too many used drugs.

“Drugs are destroying lives,” he added. “We need to stand strong to stay away from drugs. You will be successful as long as you don’t do drugs.”

Councillor James Nahachick asked students to repeat the prayer: “No drugs, no alcohol in my life in Jesus’ name. Amen!”

He added drugs and alcohol have a huge influence on family life at the reserve.

“Drugs are stealing money from their families.”

But he offered encouragement.

“Today is a good day because we’re making a stand.”

He advised students to make wise choices, especially if and when that person asks you to try drugs.

“What gang are you in? I’m with Whitefish Strong!”

“We have to do the best to stick together,” added Councillor Darren Auger. “You’re the future of this community.”

Lillian Noskiye is an addictions worker with the Native National Addictions and Drug Program.

“It’s time to let them [drug dealers] know we’re taking back our community.”

She says education and awareness is the key.

“We must have the community involved. Everything starts at home. We have to get together [as a community] and work together.”

And vital to attaining the goal is the support of schools.

“It is the youth who are in jeopardy.”

Whitefish Lake First Nation intervention outreach worker Beth Thunder works in the Youth Resilience Project.

“We just want to help the people who are suffering,” she says. “We wan to tell the people there is a way out and people care.”

Whitefish band security supervisor Craige Kevin Grey says the problem is real and sees first-hand the results each day.

“We need to encourage [youth and students to stay sober, and promote a clean, healthy, vibrant living.”

Community member Dale Tallman helped organize the walk. He says the community must rally against the problem and stressed it was important for students to see the support of council, who must serve as role models.

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