Provincial funding to help Indigenous Nanaimo youth overcome addictions, avoid overdose

By Spencer Sterritt
February 13, 2018 - 5:44pm

The Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre will have a new outreach worker to help them stem the tide of death and despair caused by the ongoing overdose crisis.Aboriginal Housing Management Association

NANAIMO — New money is putting boots on the ground in Nanaimo to fight the ongoing overdose crisis, specifically to save Indigenous lives.

As part of a recent provincial funding announcement, promising $20 million over three years specifically for Indigenous programs, Nanaimo's Tillicum Lelum will be able to afford a new outreach navigator and fully support their existing programs.

Tillicum Lelum executive director Grace Elliott Nielsen told NanaimoNewsNOW providing relief and support for their one overworked substance abuse counsellor will let them touch on every aspect of addiction.

“Quite often, Indigenous people when they're very young, teenagers or older, they don't feel connected to a model that isn't holistic,” she said.

Nielsen said their holistic care will touch on addictions, how the person arrived at that unfortunate position, the best ways to heal both their body and their mind while also fostering a greater connection with traditional Indigenous methods of healing by talking with Elders and being a greater part of their community.

“You really need to see where it's come from in the past, what's happening in the present and how we can address it and make the future a better place for everyone's children and family.”

Though statistics aren't available for how many Indigenous people lost their lives in 2017 to a fatal overdose, Nielsen said she's seen increasing devastation on local families.

According to the First Nation Health Authority, First Nations people are five times more likely than non-First Nations to overdose and fatal overdoses are three times as likely.

In Nanaimo, 51 people in total lost their lives to an overdose.


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