Graduates’ eyes opened by frontline addictions work
Seven Reverend Tommy Beardy Memorial Wee Che He Wayo Gamik Family Treatment Centre staff members have earned Chemical Addictions Worker diplomas from the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.
“It opened my eyes — I learned lots regarding addictions and alcohol and drugs,” said Muskrat Dam’s Joni Beardy during the August 8 graduation ceremony at the Airlane Hotel and Conference Centre in Thunder Bay. “It just made me see, not to judge, so many people that are stuck in their addictions. So I’m able to understand and see what it does.”
Beardy, a CHR at the treatment centre, also learned “a lot about herself” during the Chemical Addictions Worker program.
“Going through that two-year program, I worked on myself as well,” Beardy said. “So it was good. I enjoyed it even though it was a lot of work.”
Beardy plans to continue on with the third year of the Chemical Addictions Worker program, which is recognized with an advanced diploma.
Beardy and the other staff members attended the program during 10 two-week modules over the year between intakes of clients at the treatment centre.
“We finished our second year and it was a lot of work, a lot of time away from people, families,” said Kingfisher’s Verna Aganash. “Even though it was in the community, at the end of the day you were tired, but overall it was great.”
A tutor who works with children at the treatment centre, Aganash found the knowledge she gained during the two weeks of classes helped her with the next intake of clients.
“You understood more of where they were coming from,” Aganash said.
Aganash is looking forward to the third year of the program as well as continuing on with further post-secondary studies.
“I was thinking of taking Child and Youth Worker at Confederation College,” Aganash said.
The Chemical Addictions Worker program is delivered by a trainer from the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in British Columbia.
“It’s a unique model where the trainer comes from British Columbia into our community and delivers the program at the community level without any of the students travelling out of the community,” said Roy Thunder, executive director of the treatment centre. “It really works good and the learning has been phenomenal. Their work has really improved immensely.”
Thunder said the program, which is funded by Health Canada, helps staff gain more knowledge about addictions and the work they do at the treatment centre.
“They are able to have a better understanding of their role and responsibilities as addictions workers or specialists,” Thunder said. “It makes their job a whole lot easier in terms of understanding the work that has to be done. They are the front-line workers in the communities, so it really impacts the communities in terms of the help they can provide to the clients that have addictions problems.”
Thunder changed his own life around many years ago by taking addictions treatment.
“I remember sitting down at the Centennial Park in Sioux Lookout with my half-a-bottle of wine and thinking I should continue drinking, but then something hit me telling me it was time to change my life,” Thunder said. “It’s time to help your people and do something for yourself too.”
Thunder received help from Frank Beardy and attended a number of treatment centres before he quit abusing alcohol for good.
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