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First Nations Addictions Forum honours contribution of Addictions Workers and Treatment Centre staff in BC

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Through a blanketing ceremony at the First Nation Addictions Forum, the FNHA formally recognized the important contributions made by the 97 addictions workers who travelled from across the province to attend this gathering. The event brought together a whopping 900+ years of cumulative service. Participants were energized by coming together for new learning and the sharing of experiences.

The forum, held in Richmond on March 12-13, was in response to community addictions workers' request for a gathering, for training, and for an opportunity to support each other.

One of the key topics of the forum was transforming the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP). There was clear feedback from addictions workers that the program should be strengths-based and have a focus on healing. Over the two days a  theme for the program emerged around 'healing journeys' and 'pathways to wellness'.

An essential theme of the forum was self-care. Cultural supports were provided at the event and one of the forum's breakout sessions included teachings about how to use Indigenous tools for living in the mental health and wellness sphere. Participants learned that we sometimes experience other people's trauma physically – and that we can reach for traditional techniques like cedar brushing and smudging to help us recover from the impacts of the work.

Leaders shared wise practices across the treatment continuum and heartfelt discussions took place on land-based healing, residential treatment for adults and families, trauma,, mobile detox, as well as supportive aftercare. A presentation about decolonizing addiction was well-received and generated fresh and engaged conversations. Regional breakout sessions were popular as they provided the opportunity for community addictions workers, treatment centre staff and FNHA regional team members to share experiences, lessons learned, and to build a network of support.

The forum wrapped up on an educational and playful note where participants learned about another self-care technique, the emotional freedom technique (EFT). EFT includes a series of tapping on specific points on the face and body to help relieve emotional stress. The presenters had everyone up on their feet, giggling, and tapping their bodies. The consensus was that the tapping does work!

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