A new program at the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre is trying to tackle the opioid crisis in the city. The province has given grant money to centres in four different Alberta cities so they can hire people to run addiction workshops catered to the indigenous community.
Friendship Centre Executive Director Miranda Laroche says she believes the city was chosen because of its high rate of overdoses.
“In Grande Prairie, we are the highest per capita for opioid overdoses and I think that’s why Grande Prairie was one of the four cities that was asked to participate in this pilot project.”
The centre has hired a cultural navigator who will work in the community and host workshops. Laroche says it was important to hire someone who could approach the topic in a culturally sensitive way.
“Sometimes services that are offered to indigenous people by non-indigenous people are not culturally sensitive. They don’t always have that understanding or that baseline of the culture.
The Centre will be hosting a talking circle event twice a month starting in September. The event is open to the public and will give residents a safe place to come and talk about addiction. Laroche hopes people will leave the talking circles with a better understanding of opioids.
“We hope that people will take away knowledge and information on the opioid crisis and maybe it will help save a life.”
The province has also offered funding to friendship centres in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge and workshops and training sessions will be held at 21 other centres across the province.