Canada Should Pay Attention to the Example Set by First Nations When it Comes to Substance Abuse

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For many a year the aboriginal population of Canada have been part of a troubling statistic. Aboriginals make up a very large number of those imprisoned in Canadian jails. While aboriginals only make up about 4% of the Canadian population, they account for 23% of federal prisoners. Think about that. 4% of the population accounts for nearly a quarter of prisoners in federal jails across the country. This statistic is only getting worse, apparently, as more and more research into aboriginal prison populations is being completed. There are a number of factors to consider while imagining for what reasons aboriginals are being locked up for, but substance abuse whether it be drugs or alcohol represent about 80% of the native people who are locked up. Their crimes may not have been drug or alcohol related, but this huge portion of aboriginal prisoners are suffering from an addiction of one sort or another. This is a very troubling situation for our native people who have a very rich, honorable and diverse culture that we often forget about as Canadians. They have gone through very hard times in the past, and many tribes and communities continue to struggle due to a wide variety of abuse and neglect from the federal and provincial governments that deal with our native populations on a consistent basis. The last thing any aboriginal community needs is a substance epidemic, but it seems they do have just that and now need help from outside their tribes and communities. It seems, at least, that some of our aboriginal communities will be receiving provincial funding in order to combat the growing drug problem:

The announcement of provincial funding going toward treating aboriginal youths for substance abuse issues is more than good news. It is a vital piece in bringing to fruition the educational opportunities many First Nations leaders have advocated. They are adamant that the future of First Nations in Canada lies in its youth. They want improvements to education and increased opportunities for a generation with immense potential. To be clear, not all aboriginal youth engaged in substance abuse will go to jail any more than non-native youth. But as with non-natives, substance abuse may limit if not ruin a potentially bright future.

The funding provided will go to a supportive care facility that will be open all day, all night and on every day of the year for addicts, and First Nations leaders will begin to focus their efforts on the younger population within aboriginal communities. It is inspirational indeed, something that the rest of Canada and particularly small Canadian communities should take notice of. More care for addicts, without the risk of going to jail looming over them as some sort of nasty reminder that just because you suffer from a real illness you may very well end up behind bars because of it. The First Nations leaders are acting to preserve the integrity of their communities, but as they know just as well as we do how many of their brothers and sisters have gone to jail because of their substance abuse or alcohol related illness, their attempts to save their friends and family members from becoming another crime statistic is admirable and noble. Again, something the rest of us should certainly keep in mind when it comes to our country’s drug laws, health care for addicts and the support we need to offer them to help them get their lives back on track.



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Sobriety Foundation

Canada Should Pay Attention to the Example Set by First Nations When it Comes to Substance Abuse

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