7 steps to help Eabametoong
Hiring an emergency response coordinator could bring more stability to his community, says Eabametoong Chief Lewis Nate.
“Hiring this person will be good for the community,” Nate said. “They will help bring other agencies (on board) with our emergency response plan.”
The position could be filled soon, Nate said.
At the present time, the community is following a seven-point action plan. The plan details steps community leaders feel are important to address as they react to the state of emergency declared Oct. 22.
Nate said the state of emergency was a necessary in order to secure funding to help the community address its prescription drug abuse issues and violence, including cases of arson and murder.
“Right now, we are still working on getting everyone (in the community) on the same page about the future direction of our community,” Nate said, adding the emergency response coordinator will be tasked with finding partners and agencies to help the community members heal.
Nate details the seven steps of the action plan.
The first step was declaring the state of emergency through March 31, though it may continue past that date.
“We had to include a date because funding works on a fiscal year,” Nate explained. “If it is necessary, it will continue into spring or summer of next year.”
The second step is the creation of the emergency response plan.
This has started to come into effect, he said.
“We need to bring stability into our community,” Nate said.
“We’ve been able to bring in additional security. We have a 24 hour police presence. We didn’t have that before. It is starting to help.”
The police presence has brought an unexpected side effect.
“People are scared because there is a decrease in the amount of drugs in the community,” Nate said.
“People are going through really bad withdrawals. The cost of drugs has increased because there are less available.”
Counselling services are also expected to be part of this step.
The third step has been met. It included political advocacy and lobbying from chiefs, tribal organizations and other leaders.
The fourth step is the development of a long-term plan for the community.
Segments of this step include rebuilding and healing the community, a prescription drug abuse strategy, crime prevention and the completion or construction of a detox or treatment centre.
Step five involves improving communication among community members and leadership.
“We’ve lost the connection to the Elders and the youth,” Nate said.
“We need to start communicating with the membership about what we are doing. A lot of decisions were made without the involvement of the community.”
The sixth step includes the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the successes.
“People have lost trust in the leadership,” Nate said.
“We need to work with them to get their trust back.”
The final step is the community development of strategies to build a brighter future for the community. Nate said a lot of good things were planned for the community in the past.
“We need to dust off some of those plans and implement them,” he said.
Following the seven-steps will help lead the community back to a better place, Nate said, adding it is time to focus on the future.
“We did short-term stabilizing in the community by hosting different events and activities,” Nate said.
“We need to get our lives back. You can’t think about planning ahead when we (the community) feel unstable. We need to get back to dealing with other community issues.”
One of those community activities was the first healing journey jamboree Oct. 22-24, organized by Elaine Boyce and a small group of other community members.
“We thought it was important to the community to be able to gather,” Boyce, a Native language teacher, said.
Activities and workshops were held during the day and the singing went ahead at night.
“It was something we organized from the heart,” Boyce said.
“We were all feeling pressure and emotional inside. So I figured I would start something for my people.”
More than 100 people participated in the jamboree.
Even more are expected to participate in the second jamboree at the John C. Yesno School Dec. 10-12.
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