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Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council demands action on overdose crisis

New addiction clinic and detox centre needed in Nuu-chah-nulth territory, says president
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council leaders are demanding immediate action in response to toxic drug deaths. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council is asking for a new addiction clinic and detox centre in Nuu-chah-nulth territory that will work in a culturally safe and trauma-informed way.

“We are in a state of emergency with the number of deaths from drug overdoses with Nuu-chah-nulth People,” said NTC president Judith Sayers. “We say no more deaths—we must fix this problem now. We need resources—money, services, and counselling and so much more. We can’t keep saying this is a crisis, an emergency, if we haven’t taken drastic steps to prevent more deaths.”

On Friday, April 1, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council announced that it had recently met with the Nuu-chah-nulth Health Caucus and demanded that the provincial and federal governments act immediately, in consultation with First Nations, to deal with the deadly drug overdose crisis.

B.C declared a public health emergency in April 2016 over drug toxicity deaths and, since then, more than 8,800 people within the province have died as a direct result of toxic drugs and overdoses. Indigenous people continue to be over-represented in deaths.

READ MORE: First Nations people in B.C. three times more likely to die of overdose

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council says there are not enough resources for their people who want and need help. They are calling on Canada, B.C. and the First Nations Health Authority to work together and create a seven-day-a-week rapid access addiction clinic within Nuu-chah-nulth territory, along with a fully certified detox centre that will work in a culturally safe and trauma-informed way.

The creation of a holistic wellness centre was also one of the recommendations that came out of a coroner’s inquest last year into the death of an Indigenous teen in Port Alberni.

READ MORE: Coroner’s inquest suggests creation of wellness centre in Port Alberni

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vice-president Mariah Charleson pointed out that the province recently announced a five-year action plan to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

READ MORE: B.C. reveals 5-year action plan to implement UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

“We call on B.C to prioritize the work in response to the toxic drug overdose crisis that continues to disproportionately impact First Nations peoples, communities and Nations with a plan and strategy that includes capacity building, sustained funding and culturally appropriate resources,” said Charleson.

Sayers and Charleson pointed out in a news release that higher levels of government used “extraordinary measures” over the past two years to provide critical resources and funds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are asking for the same urgent response to fight the toxic drug overdose crisis.

About the Author: Alberni Valley News Staff

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