A new forum on addiction and mental health is gearing up to tour communities in the Northwest Territories.
It’s part of the territorial government’s action plan to fight the problem.
Over the next few months, a group of representatives experienced in addictions and mental health will travel to 22 communities. Paul Andrew, a former broadcaster and residential school survivor, will lead the group.
"What works in the community is what we want to hear from you so that we can go to the minister at the end of April and give him a report that says this is what works and this is where you should put your money," Andrew said.
"What is happening in our communities is not acceptable. It cannot be."
The Chief of the Salt River First Nation, Dave Poitras, said addiction programs that are currently available in the territory don’t seem to be working.
Poitras said there used to be hundreds of people in the communities who were trained to deal with addiction, but they were let go.
"That’s why we’re losing this battle against addictions, it’s because it’s set up by the government," Poitras said.
After the recent Truth and Reconciliation hearings, more and more people are seeking help for addictions. Andrew said that’s a good sign.
"I believe that I can make a difference. I believe that we can make a difference. I believe that we have to make a difference," Andrew said.
Health and Social Services Minister Tom Beaulieu said he hopes northerners will come up with solutions. He says there is $9 million in additional funds to create programs derived from these hearings.
The group is scheduled to visit Fort McPherson and Lutselk'e, N.W.T. first.