Alberta friendship centres get $400,000 to fight Indigenous opioid crisis

Centres in Calgary, Lethbridge, Edmonton and Grande Prairie will offer treatment, harm reduction and culturally sensitive services for those suffering from addiction.

The money will be split between four centres to help with harm reduction and culturally sensitive services

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman announced the new funding on Wednesday. (CBC)

There are new supports in the works for Indigenous people battling addiction in Calgary, Lethbridge, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.

Native friendship centres in each of those cities will share in a $400,000 provincial grant for treatment, harm reduction and culturally sensitive services.

Cara Blood from the Aboriginal Friendship Centre Of Calgary says it plays a vital role in helping to connect people with resources.  

"First Nations are five times more likely to overdose than non-First Nations," she said. "A lot of people are kind of left in the dark in not knowing where to turn to, so the friendship centre, in that sense, is a great place and a safe haven for people to turn to."

'Heartbreaking impact'

According to the Alberta government, friendship centres in 21 communities will also get access to workshops, Naloxone training sessions and educational material.

"The opioid crisis is having a heartbreaking impact on families and communities across the province," said Health Minister Sarah Hoffman in a news release. 

"We need to do everything we can to help people receive greater access to health services for substance use without facing cultural barriers or stigma."

Blood says the centre will offer cultural approaches to those needing intervention, such as access to on-site elders and traditional activities like sage picking.