Community efforts target substance abuse


The ongoing battle against substance abuse is being highlighted this week as district communities and organizations mark National Addictions Awareness Week as well as the Ontario-wide Drug Awareness Week.
The week kicked off with Rainy River First Nations holding a community march Sunday afternoon, with those in attendance showing their support for ongoing efforts against substance abuse there.
With wet snow pelting down, more than 65 community members—from infants to elders—turned out for the event, marching through the community with two drums to show their support for the cause.
The community will fight and win the battle against addictions, even if it’s just reaching “one person at a time,” Chief Jim Leonard had vowed before the march.
He also took a moment to applaud and encourage those within the community who have given up drugs.
Chief Leonard also pointed to the progress that’s been made in the past two years in the community—from working to reduce the number of homes where drugs are being sold to a newly-implemented drug-testing policy for band employees and those throughout the community holding “safety sensitive” positions.
Following the march, the community gathered inside the rec centre to hear guest speaker­ Dennis Hisgun, of the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota­, recount his own story of losing his family to alcoholism and addiction and his subsequent path to sobriety.
Hisgun, who now works as a drug and addictions counsellor in his community, encouraged those throughout RRFN to be role models for the youth and children.
Meanwhile, the United Native Friendship Centre and Couchiching Treatment and Support Services held their annual Mino-Bimaadiziwin “Living the Good Life” sobriety walk here Monday.
A dozen or so people made their way from Couchiching First Nations to the UNFC’s Circle of Life Centre on Mowat Avenue.
That afternoon, four speakers were invited to share their own experiences with addiction and journey to sobriety.
As well, Gerri Yerxa, with the District Mental Health Services for Older Adults Program, held a seminar today for seniors on prescription safety at the multi-use facility on Couchiching.
The local Substance Abuse Prevention Team had a presence at Fort Frances High School today as it celebrated a provincial grant of $99,800, which will help sustain the team until March.
Their presentation gave attendees the opportunity to see what projects the SAPT has been up to over the past year, as well as what its future plans are.
The presentation also included displays and a demonstration of the newly-acquired “Simulated Impaired Driving Experience,” or SIDNE­.
This battery-powered vehicle offers a hands-on way for people to see how distraction, alcohol, and drug impairment affect a motorist’s driving skills.