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Red Road to Recovery sharing circles at Anishnawbe Mushkiki

Friday July 25, 2014
Teresa Trudeau, traditional coordinator for Anishnawbe Mushkiki

Anishnawbe Mushkiki has developed weekly Red Road to Recovery sharing circles to assist people with addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling and other dependencies.

“It is for people that are dealing with all types of addictions, not just prescription drugs — it could be alcohol, it could be gambling,” said Teresa Trudeau, traditional coordinator at Anishnawbe Mushkiki, located in Thunder Bay. “It is also for people who want to help others who have recovered themselves.”

Trudeau uses the Red Road to Wellbriety book, which was developed in the United States about 40 years ago based on the medicine wheel teachings and the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, as a resource in the sharing circles.

“There are personal recovery stories in this book, so it is like inviting a guest speaker to your meeting,” Trudeau said, noting there are stories from about 20 different Elders in the book. “It’s like having that Elder present right there with us with his stories.”

The Red Road to Wellbriety book also includes 12 chapters of cultural information about healing from alcoholism and addictions, including how-to information about working the 12 Steps in a Native way.

“Right now, what we’re learning about is the interconnectedness of the 12 steps using the medicine wheel,” Trudeau said. “For example, the first, second and third step are in the east direction of the medicine wheel. That is where our circle is at right now.”

Trudeau said the fourth, fifth and sixth steps are in the south direction, the seventh, eighth and ninth are in the west and the tenth, eleventh and twelfth are in the north.

“So it goes in a circle within the medicine wheel,” Trudeau said. “Where we all want to be and always want to be is at the twelfth step. You don’t get to the top and say I’m done — you stay in that step always because that is where our helpers, our healers, our medicine people, our Elders, that is where
they are.”

Trudeau has been holding the sharing circles on Wednesday evenings since this past April, with attendance ranging from about eight to 12 participants.

“We start with food at 6:30,” Trudeau said. “We have some refreshments and we sit down and it is informal at first. We’re just socializing and getting to know each other.”

Trudeau said the group begins the sharing circle at 7 p.m. with an opening prayer and readings from the Red Road to Wellbriety book.

“After a break, we go in and have our discussion,” Trudeau said. “It’s not unusual to go to 9:30.”

Trudeau has received a good response from the participants.

“They keep coming back,” Trudeau said. “They’re saying it really helps them. They feel more comfortable being here and an indicator of that is when people take off their shoes, you know they’re comfortable.”

Trudeau’s vision and goal is to restore the health of the communities, noting the next step is to introduce a sharing circle into a remote community.

“I actually have a toolkit for somebody to go to their community and establish (a Red Road to Recovery healing circle),” Trudeau said. “It’s taking ownership and responsibility, rather than relying on outside resources. Our healing is from within ourselves, and the healing is from within the community.”

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