Caring Circle launches in Fort Simpson to combat suicide and drug addiction
Raymond Pidzamecky wants to help people to be part of positive change in the community
People in Fort Simpson are taking a proactive approach to tackling suicide and drug addiction in the wake of a suicide crisis that happened during the summer.
Four people died within four months.
On Wednesday, the first Caring Circle was held to help community members be proactive and not bystanders to the social issues facing the community.
Raymond Pidzamecky organized the Caring Circle in response to the suicides, cyberbullying, and drug abuse he's seen in Fort Simpson.
Why do we have community gatherings after somebody dies? Why aren't we meeting before all this happens and become proactive?-Raymond Pidzamecky
He said he was inspired by the turnout.
"It was wonderful because we had cross-representation of people of ages and gender," said Pidzamecky, an Indian Residential School counsellor who visits Fort Simpson and the neighbouring communities.
Pidzamecky says 25 people showed up and those in attendance ranged in age from 22 to 70.
'We want to be part of change'
"[We talked about] why is it we have meetings after the crisis? Why do we have community gatherings after somebody dies? Why aren't we meeting before all this happens and become proactive?" he said.
"The group agreed about that. They talked about the last suicide and the big meeting that occurred in the community."
The mayor, local priest and an RCMP officer were some of the people who attended.
"The consensus was, we don't want to be spectators. We want to be part of change and we want to contribute to that change, not just come together when there's a crisis."
Pidzamecky said the group also discussed the strengths of individuals within the community and how people can use those strengths to help others.
They were each given a homework assignment: think of one thing they do well. For example, cooking or gardening.
At the next meeting, Pidzamecky plans to discuss how the community can use their individual strengths to make an impact.
Furthermore, he plans to hold a Caring Circle in Fort Simpson every month for the next year and will be working with wellness workers in Inuvik to create a similar program.
Pidzamecky hopes to engage more youth and elders at the next gathering, which will be held on Mar. 4 at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church starting at 2 p.m.
CBC North will be in Fort Simpson next week, starting on February 6. If you have a story you would like to share with us, contact Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are grappling with suicide in the N.W.T., call the confidential NWT Help Line at 1-800-661-0844.
You can also call the First Nations and Inuit Wellness Watch 24/7 at 1-855-242-3310 or Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a counsellor.