Lyle Fox Setting out on ‘Penasi Walk for Prescription Drug Abuse’

Dream CatcherTHUNDER BAY – SIOUX LOOKOUT – Combating the problems with prescription drug abuse is a task that involves community awareness and engagement.

Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA), Northern Nishnawbe Education Council (NNEC) and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) are proud to support Lyle Fox, a 27-year-old member of Bearskin Lake, who will be putting his best foot forward on a walk that will cover over 380 km which he hopes will raise awareness of prescription drug abuse in First Nation communities.

The ‘Penasi Walk for Prescription Drug Abuse’ starts at Pelican Falls High School near Sioux Lookout at 9 a.m. on August 22, 2011 with plans to arrive in Thunder Bay on September 1, 2011.

“I thought of doing a walk one day when I was driving back to work at Pelican Falls High School. I wanted to direct it to something that is impacting First Nations people and their lives. Prescription drug abuse came to mind,” said Fox.

“I will be walking to remember my brother, Darryl Fox, who passed away from cancer. It will be nine years this October since we lost him. My brother loved life and I would like to raise awareness to remind people that it’s not too late to fight for their lives and to reach out and ask for help,” said Fox, who notes that ‘Penasi’ means ‘Thunderbird’ in Ojibway, which was his brother’s spirit name. “I will be walking to raise awareness for prescription drug abuse and remembering my brother’s strength, his memory and spirit at the same time.”

Fox plans to start his walk at Pelican Falls High School, located just outside of Sioux Lookout, where students from the First Nations communities in the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN) territory attend high school. The walk will conclude at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School (DFC) in Thunder Bay. Both schools have students that have been personally affected by the prescription drug abuse crisis in the 49 First Nations in the NAN territory.

“This walk is just one of many steps towards raising awareness about such a huge issue. It’s safe to say that prescription drug abuse affects all of our First Nation communities, and there are so many barriers people face when trying to either get clean or help those close to them battle their addictions,” says James Morris, Executive Director at Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority. “We have 31 First Nations in the Sioux Lookout region and every single community has seen families torn apart and lives lost to the abuse of prescription drugs.” 

“We are pleased to see the determination and effort by Lyle in working to bring attention to the Prescription Drug Abuse epidemic currently facing NAN communities,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Mike Metatawabin.  “As leaders, we continue to work towards ensuring there is proper resourcing in place that would not only assist with treatment but also prevention in abusing prescription drugs. Healthy communities lead to a stronger and more prosperous future for our youth and we will continue to advocate for change.”

Lyle will finish his walk on September 1, arriving at DFC at 1 p.m. to speak to students about his journey and discuss the topic of prescription drug abuse.

Lyle welcomes others to join him on his journey as well as support the cause with donations. All donations will go towards fighting prescription drug abuse.

If you would like to donate, join Lyle or assist him on his walk with food, water or additional resources, you can contact Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority’s Communications Department at (807) 737-1802 or info@slfnha.com. You can also contact Nishnawbe Aski Nation at (807) 623-8228 and speak to Jamie Monastyrski, or via email at jmonastyrski@nan.on.ca.  Donation forms are available upon request and also online at www.slfnha.com and www.nan.on.ca.