OGOKI POST – Cliffs Natural Resources and the Marten Falls First Nation are working together to combat issues with drug abuse. Marten Falls or Ogoki Post is one of many northern First Nations dealing with an unprecedented rate of opiate addiction attributed to a misused prescription drug known as OxyContin.
In 2009, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Chiefs-in-Assembly unanimously passed a resolution declaring a State of Emergency as a result of the prescription drug epidemic.
In a statement made earlier this year to Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, Chief Eli Moonias said: “This drug’s effects can be highly destructive when misused. It debilitates the whole community”.
Marten Falls First Nation Chief and Council today welcome members of an independent Treatment Team and Health Canada’s First Nation and Inuit Health representatives to initiate the planning for a community-based clinical withdrawal management program to help community members with opiate addiction.
They are joined by Joe Gaboury, Director of Aboriginal Affairs for Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., an international mining company, who will cover the costs for the first program. Joe Gaboury stated, “We are so concerned that we have decided to invest some of our money in having a healthy, capable workforce coming from this northern community. We have made this a priority for our business.”
The team of health professionals will use a substitution drug known as Suboxone and taper the drug over 30 days until clients can be taken off completely or continue on short-term low-dose maintenance. This approach has been successful in other programs in Nishnawe Aski territory and is well-documented and used in other parts of the world.