Kamloops students turn to First Nations approach to send message about fentanyl to area youth

From left to right: Tk'emlups te Secwepemc drug and alcohol councillor Dave Manual, Thompson Rivers University students Kaitlyn O'Toole and Dustin Reimer, volunteer Jayden Stefanyk and TRU student Danielle Novikoff.

KAMLOOPS - A collaboration between Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and Thompson Rivers University students aims to educate youth about fentanyl and how to face the current spread of the potentilly fatal opioid.

As fentanyl spreads and takes more lives in the interior of B.C. six university students and First Nation drug and alcohol counsellor Dave Manual are looking to speak to the region's youth before they make potentially life-altering choices. Manual says the situation is a crisis and people need to take action now.

“If we keep waiting for something to happen it’s only going to get worse before it gets better,” he says. “We need to be proactive to start helping the youth so that they make healthier choices.”

Together, the university students and Manual have created a one-night workshop during National Addiction Awareness Week next week to help local youth face the problem. They’re inviting youth ages 12 to 18 to attend a free event to help teach about the fentanyl crisis, with pizza, prizes and a demonstration of Narcan, one of the potentially live saving overdose reversing treatments.

The event is using Secwepemc traditions to help deal with and understand the situation, fourth year social works student Kaitlyn O’Toole says.

“It’s based on the medicine wheel concept which is used here in Secwepemc territory. There’s the mental, the physical, the emotional and the spiritual,” she says. “What we’re doing is we’ve got four different workshops operating all at the same time.”

During the workshop the youth will rotate from station to station.

O’Toole says the event began to form as a project for a TRU class about decolonization. When the gap in education for youth about fentanyl became apparent, the group developed the workshop.

“Originally fentanyl wasn’t necessarily mentioned in our assignment,” she says. “With the fentanyl crisis we thought this is a pretty important time to talk about fentanyl, no one's really talking to the youth about it.”

While there is room available, Manual says it’s limited to 60 youth. He’s had interest from parents and organizations in Kamloops and the Shuswap and has spoken to the Kamloops school district about the event.

The event runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Chief Louie Centre Dining Hall on Nov. 15.

To sign up for the event, Manual can be reached at dave.manual@kib.ca or 250-372-5030.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 


becky-mann
MANN: When things happen you just can't explain
  OPINION Last week I bought a second-hand copy of Eat Pray Love . Nothing extra special about buying a book, but it is the series of events (buying the book included in that series) that has me puzzled. Eat Pra

Top News