National Indigenous Peoples Day 2021

Written by: Janine Stevenson – Director of Strategic Initiatives & Special Projects, Dakota Fayant-McLeod – Communications Coordinator

With a focus on Indigenous Harm Reduction methods of support and education we hope to empower people with lived and living experience, those at risk and our community; while reducing stigma, building connection, healing and change in our community – Indigenous Women’s Sharing Society, RRIOD grantee

National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to celebrate the many cultures and outstanding contributions of Indigenous peoples. Leading courageous conversations and implementing innovative initiatives in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities around substance use and overdose prevention are fitting examples of such exceptional contributions.

Indigenous people continue to be far more deeply impacted than other groups by the overdose crisis, with rural and remote First Nations communities being even more tragically affected. In an effort to reduce harms and prevent overdose deaths, BC’s Overdose Emergency Response Center, in partnership with Community Action Initiative, created a Rural, Remote and Indigenous grant opportunity to support some of the hard work already being done in Indigenous communities.

From a total of 23 grants, 17 were awarded to First Nations communities or organizations. Initiatives include the provision of low barrier access to cultural activities as well as the hosting and facilitating of community dialogues on substance use and addiction. In addition, there are plans to hire people with lived and living experience to connect with community people who use drugs to offer non-judgmental services. Many are creating opportunities to build relationships and combat stigma through establishing safe spaces that can host and facilitate these challenging and essential conversations. One community is planning on re-creating a traditional healing space and many others are working to remove barriers to treatment. Most of the 17 grantees are providing training on Naloxone administration and Trauma and Violence Informed Practice.

Indigenous people engaged in the hard and complicated work of supporting their communities and their people who use substances, are making life-saving contributions to their young people, their communities, and the generations ahead. On this National Indigenous Peoples Day, we celebrate these significant achievements, and acknowledge the foundational work that Indigenous communities continue to spearhead as they partner with and serve their community members who use drugs.

The Autonomous space for Peers and Clients is something that should have been a reality longer ago. The space will provide a place for people who use substances to work, play, learn, be, practice social well-being, and challenge colonization’s effects on their health. – Dze L K’ant Frienship Centre Society, RRIOD Grantee

To learn more about the Rural, Remote and Indigenous Overdose Grants, visit the site here.