THUNDER BAY – Dilico Anishinabek Family Care’s Mental Health and Addictions Services opened its Revisiting Our Journey: Healing Starts at Home conference at the Victoria Inn (555 Arthur St. W.) today. Over the next two days, the conference on complementary treatment and healing strategies will provide participants with knowledge, understanding and takeaway tools for communities coping with issues of substance abuse and misuse. The conference comes as a result of the prescription drug abuse epidemic identified in Dilico’s community drug strategy which was developed in 2010 with co-operation from the 13 First Nations the agency serves.
“We are now seeing a groundswell of First Nation communities in Northern Ontario making amazing efforts to develop withdrawal and healing programs within their own communities,” says Rose Pittis, Dilico’s Director of Mental Health and Addictions Services. “This conference is one which aims to inform participants of alternative treatment and healing strategies that might differ from what they’ve already seen.”
Presenters will focus on a range of topics including community-based treatment models, substitution therapies, coping with withdrawal and cultural healing methods. In addition to the opening ceremonies hosted by Master of Ceremonies Stan Wesley, the conference will also feature plenary addresses by Dilico’s Executive Director Donald Auger and Carol Hopkins who is Executive Director of the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation. Breakout workshop sessions will also be offered focussing more narrowly on additional topic areas including Suboxone and using humour to heal, among others.
“We really want to provide community members with a place to start, which comes from identifying strengths within their own communities,” says Pittis. “It is our hope that those in attendance will take what they learn here over the next two days back to their First Nations and share it with the people who live there.”
Conference delegates include community members from the Chief and Council level to mental health and addictions services providers to frontline community health workers and educators.