“With a new provincial Treaty partner I am hopeful that we can now do more to save lives.” – Grand Chief Daniels
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 14, 2023
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — Today, the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is announcing the next steps in our comprehensive public campaign focused on harm reduction and the prevention and awareness of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections (STBBIs).
“Like we noted so boldly when we first started this campaign, harm reduction is an act of love,” stated SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “We need to continue and amplify the work we have done so far and show our commitment to offering positive change through minimizing harms for our relatives who use substances, as part of a spectrum of care.”
SCO launched a Harm Reduction and Land-Based Healing Program in January 2023 and followed that up in the summer with a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign focused on preventing and increasing awareness of HIV, STBBIs, and harm reduction. The campaign was informed by the voices of First Nation people with lived experience and harm reduction service organizations.
SCO is now eager to work with the new provincial government under the leadership of Premier Kinew on harm reduction and prevention. As part of their election platform, the provincial New Democratic Party confirmed it wants to establish a supervised consumption site in downtown Winnipeg. Supervised consumption sites have been shown to prevent toxic drug poisonings and reduce the spread of infectious diseases, such as HIV. The sites also provide access to important health and social services, including substance use treatment for those who are ready.
“There is no disputing the data which shows the disproportionate outcomes of drug poisonings, overdose, concurrent infections, and complications associated with problematic substance use for First Nations people,” added Grand Chief Daniels. “I look forward to working in particular with Housing, Addictions and Homelessness Minister Bernadette Smith in making supervised consumption sites a reality, along with addressing the critical shortage of First Nation led treatment centres that are trauma-informed and culturally safe.”
Accompanying our HIV and STBBI public education and awareness campaign which includes printed materials, billboards, bus boards, ad space, social media, and traditional media engagement, SCO will be adding a Senior Harm Reduction Program Specialist to our organization later this month.
Meanwhile, SCO staff will continue to offer free harm reduction supplies including nasal Naloxone (NARCAN) kits from our Dublin office location and distributing supplies to our member Nations. SCO also supports our Nations with a Land-Based Healing Fund.
“We are determined to make progress to end the stigma of substance use, while providing good information, and promoting healing and harm reduction for our peoples,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “The time has never been better or more critical for us to take the next steps in this life-saving work.”
For more information on SCO’s harm reduction work and Land-Based Healing Fund, visit: https://scoinc.mb.ca/harmreduction/
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 85,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
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