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Shibogama addresses prescription drug abuse

Thursday December 20, 2012
Shibogama’s five chiefs met on Dec. 19 to discuss prescription drug addiction issues in their communities during a press conference in Sioux Lookout.

Shibogama First Nations Council has launched two new projects to address prescription drug abuse in Kasabonika, Kingfisher Lake, Wapekeka, Wawakapewin and Wunnumin Lake.

“Prescription drug abuse affects us as leaders, our communities, our families, our children, our grandchildren,” said Wawakapewin Chief Joshua Frogg during a Dec. 19 press conference in Sioux Lookout, where he added that prescription drug addictions do not have any boundaries. “It also affects pregnant women, who continue abusing prescription drugs and pass it on to the unborn.”

Shibogama’s Maternal Addictions Continuum of Care project will focus on maternal addictions care for pregnant women and their families while the Family Healing Centre Project and Land Based Healing Programs will address family issues related to impacts from addictions and social and mental traumas.

“Our people, our communities believe in the solid foundation of family concept and family unit that builds a strong community,” said Margaret Kenequanash, Shibogama’s executive director. “In order to have this, we need healthy families and systems. Through the Maternal Addictions Continuum of Care project, we want to ensure that we protect the unborn. We want our children and grandchildren to be healthy.”

Funded by Health Canada’s Health Services Integration Fund, the three-year Maternal Addictions Continuum of Care project is a collaborative effort by Shibogama Health Authority and the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre to develop a framework inclusive of all maternal addictions but with a special focus on withdrawal from prescription drugs.

“The Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre is committed to work with Shibogama First Nations to see this project through, as its impacts will be important to support healthy families within the communities we serve,” said Heather Fukushima, Meno Ya Win’s director of Long-Term Care and Service Development. “The current issue of addictions is impacting all levels along the lifecycle of a community and most sadly the youngest community members.”

Shibogama’s Family Healing Centre Project is a culturally appropriate land-based healing program designed to help individuals and families to recover from the impacts caused to the whole family.

“Our Elders have taught us that we as a people have a spiritual connection to the land,” Kenequanash said, noting the Shibogama chiefs called for the development of a Family Healing Centre in 2007. “Our communities want to utilize community land-based healing programs.”

Kasabonika Chief Gordon Anderson said the land–based healing program has been a success in his community.

“It has helped a lot of our people,” Anderson said. “I am grateful for the assistance that was made possible by the chief and council and by working with the health care workers in our community.”

Anderson said he has witnessed many events in his community that would make anybody cry, such as seeing a child running around early in the morning in the cold or seeing a house that is empty.

“Everything is all sold,” Anderson said. “There is no food, the house is cold, there is no wood.”

Shibogama is seeking potential partnerships, sponsors and other resources to support the implementation of the projects.

Wunnumin Lake Chief Rod Winnipetonga said his community has completed six intakes of clients in its Suboxone prescription drug addiction treatment program to date.

“For the young people who attended this program, it really makes a big difference in our community, especially in their family,” Winnipetonga said. “I see that their children are happy and I see them get together.”

Winnipetonga said his community is happy with the results of the program and want to keep it operating.

“It is really helping with our young people,” Winnipetonga said. “We want to continue with this until we can succeed in healing the young people who are addicted. The problem we are facing right now is the funding — we have to use our own funding to create this program to help our young people. So I’m seeking for help from the government level.”

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