‘This is an epidemic across the country’: Overdose awareness march heads to Regina | saskNOW | Saskatchewan

“We plan to leave them for up to a year so they can work on themselves, rather than being sent back to the same place they came from,” she said.

Although he is somewhat disappointed that few people came out to participate in the march this year, Hennie expects more people to join them along the way and that a special drum group will join them in Regina for the last part.

Jadine McTaggart came out to support the marchers and admitted until August 2022 that she was addicted to fentanyl.

“I have lost countless friends, family and loved ones to addiction and I would really like to see some of them start coming home,” she said.

Describing her own struggle with addiction as being at the gates of hell and struggling to get out, McTaggart explained that she would numb herself to the life she lived and the people she loved by visiting tent cities and trap houses to buy drugs. It was here that she met people from diverse backgrounds who all experienced horrible hardships.

“In the end, they were all very nice people, but just lost in their addictions. It was really dark and scary and I was afraid it would end in homelessness, prison or death,” she said.

Luckily, McTaggart has found a good path but admits it hasn’t been easy. Even after she decided to change, she underwent treatment for six months before she was able to cope, and then was exposed to continuous treatment for a year.

Highlighting the importance of cultural supports as well as access to detox and transitional housing in the community, Hennie said people struggling with addiction are best served by people who understand what is wrong with them. arrived.

“It’s not something you can really explain to someone who hasn’t experienced this, without being considered crazy,” she said.

Chief Ron Bear helped lead the community walkers. Stressing that the group has the full support of the council, he expressed hope that the federal and provincial levels of government will pay attention and invest more resources in supporting drug addicts.

“Muskoday is no different than any other community, we are suffering,” he said, noting that last weekend alone there were four overdoses in the community and there was also a high rate of crystal meth use.

Citing up to 40 known current cases, Chief Bear also noted that getting people to access treatment is difficult.

“Sometimes they accept help and sometimes they don’t. Those who haven’t are in their fourth year of addiction,” he explained, adding that while there were problems in the past, drug use in the community has become more prevalent during the pandemic when people were locked down.

Another frustration is the lack of services, citing the lack of psychologists in the province as well as long waiting lists for a detox bed.

“By the time a bed is available to the beneficiary, they have changed their mind or they have moved back down,” Bear said.

Saskatoon Center MP Betty Nippi-Albright visited Muskoday to show support for the marchers and noted that she herself had lost loved ones to drug overdoses.

“This is an epidemic across the country, and traditional methods of addressing addiction and mental health are not working,” she said.

Noting the extent to which the provincial government relies on reserve statistics for federal health transfers, Nippi-Albright also said it is the responsibility of all provincial governments and elected officials to work with First Nations communities . She also added that marches like Muskoday’s in Regina help bring the issue to light and reduce the stigma around addiction.

“It’s not just an indigenous issue, it’s a societal issue and we need to support the communities and we need to show up in the communities to let them know that we care and we’re walking with you,” she declared.

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