Residents of Frog Lake First Nation walked in recognition of their Drug and Alcohol Awareness Day on Thursday while also looking ahead to try and find solutions to the community’s substance abuse troubles.
“We started the day with a sweat ceremony, then a pipe ceremony, and we did these to ask for guidance and safety,” said Chief Greg Desjarlais on the walk.
“As well, we did it to pray for our young people that are struggling with addiction.”
Roughly 50 community members walked from the general store to the field house at the New Horizons Centre, a distance of four kilometres.
Desjarlais said he hoped the walk would help bring greater attention to the problems drugs and alcohol have created within Frog Lake, as well as to reassure those suffering from substance abuse that they’re not alone.
Putting spirituality at the forefront of the anti-drug and alcohol message is a key component of the reservation’s effort, with Desjarlais saying that he is putting the Creator first.
Community leaders are also working with the Anglican Church to build a church on reserve land.
“Mind, body, and spirit have to work as one for our bodies to function in a positive way,” said Desjarlais.
“Our hope is that people will feel driven to get treatment and have the want to change, because programs are readily available.
Other efforts the community has made to combat substance abuse include applying for a satellite police station, which could be built within the next few months, placing signs along Highway 897 that encourage those struggling with addictions to seek help, and promoting counselling programs offered by the community’s Wellness Centre.
“Sometimes it’s a struggle to get through [to people], but we have programs, we have leadership, our elders and other community members, and we need to work to create a wraparound service where we’re able to help our people,” said Desjarlais.
“Believing in yourself is where change starts.”