Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe Hosts Opioid Response Summit
For some time now, officials with the Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe have been finding ways to tackle the opioid epidemic head on. Today, they held their first-ever Opioid Response Summit to talk about issues and find solutions.
“The Tribal Council and myself, we’re all concerned about our membership here, and people have been crying out for help and we want to do what we can to help our people heal,” says Faron Jackson, Sr., the chairman for the Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe.
“Opioids are a huge problem and we’re seeing, technically I’d like to say native people are the first victims of chemical warfare. We see that opioids are just kind of a perpetuation of that whole system,” says Vernon LaPlante, the Director of Office and Policy for the state of Minnesota Department of Human Services.
The summit featured a number of professional speakers from all over the country. There were also panel discussions and live demonstrations. The summit was planned with a cultural aspect in mind.
“Just knowing that we have identified our keynote speakers so and then just magically putting it all together; using our smudge and using our drum and using our elders, our spirituality and our language,” says Gary Charwood, the tobacco prevention coordinator for the Leech Lake Youth Programs.
What happened today was only the beginning for the Opioid Response Summit. In the future, they hope to grow their audience and grow their vendors.
Jackson, Sr. says, “We want to keep this dialogue ongoing, so we keep talking about this education and awareness so we can kind of start getting this message out to our communities and our families on how concerned we are about what’s happening to the young people these days.”
The main goal of today’s summit is to find solutions, but the panel knows it won’t happen over night. The next step will be taking the information gathered from the summit and putting it to use in the community.
LeRoy Staples Fairbanks III, the District 3 Representative for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, says, “I think that’s probably the main focus is how do we bring wellness into the community? How do we heal the family? How do we heal the child? How do we heal the parents? But the community as a whole, how are we healing the community is the main focus.”
The summit will continue tomorrow at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker at 8:30 in the morning. Everyone is welcome to attend.