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200 First Nations leaders to meet in Prince George to address drug crisis

A three-day-long conference will kick off at the Civic Centre on Tuesday (March 21) that will see First Nations leaders from around Northern BC congregate to address the “impact of Addictions and the Toxic Drugs Crisis in First Nations communities in the Northern Region.”

In a release, the Northern Region First Nations Health Authority (NRFNHA) said topics include “engagement on gaps in services for First Nations communities, Stigma, Land Based Healing approaches and Treatment options and Best Practices”

A highlight of the week will be a keynote speech from former NHL player Jordin Tootoo.

“We all recognize the toxic drug crisis has hit the north harder than anywhere else in the province,” said Jessica Mikolayczyk, the Regional Operations Manager for the NRFNHA.

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“The forum is to bring our leadership to inform the FNHA on what issues are in the community.”

Mikolayczyk said Tootoo is a great speaker for the event, having been very open about the loss of his brother to suicide, his own addiction struggles, and his charity work and philanthropy in the field.

“He has highlighted as someone significant who would share his story with our leadership and bring some level of hope to our people,” she said.

When Mikolayczyk spoke to Vista Radio, she did not have stats for overdoses within First Nations communities, but she did say “a lot of the data you will see is for loss of life, it does not always reflect the number of people who attempt, or who have had overdosed and were revived.”

“This is a very significant priority for the First Nation people in out region,” she said. “We recognize there are going to be some tough discussions and hard stories heard. Our goal is to hear them and do what we can to see what we can do.”

The conference will start on Tuesday morning at 8:30.

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