by Felix Atencio-Gonzales, MMNN Contributor

Choosing your friends to stay strong

“Drugs never help you. It hurts you slowly; it hurts your family and hurts the people who care about you. It hurt a lot more than I thought it would”, says Patrick (his real name was changed to protect his privacy), a Mi’gmaq from Elsipogtog, N.B. His calm voice and manners contrast the person he used to be a year ago, before entering the Walgwan rehabilitation center.

At the age of 11 he started smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol and it wasn’t long after that that he started huffing gas. With time, he was stealing money from his parents and grandparents, getting into fights and in trouble with the police. The people in his community didn’t trust him but Patrick didn’t care. He cared more about his “drug friends” because they were giving him drugs or gasoline and he thought in doing so, they were good friends.

Patrick’s juvenile years are not unique to youth in First Nation and Inuit communities across Canada. There is a part of the youth population that keeps leaderships, social workers, and families searching for solutions. The painful images of a group of Innu teenagers sniffing glue in Labrador have gone worldwide and the problem is still very much present today.

Our youth are suffering

Dr. Stanley Vollant, an Innu from Pessamit, embarked on a 4000 Km. journey to meet Aboriginal youth in different regions of Canada. This summer, he, together with native and non-native support ...

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