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'Stay strong together'
Activities around town focus on the community as a whole during National Addictions Awareness Week

Danielle Sachs
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, November 22, 2012

The warmth of the bonfire warded off some of the chill as supporters gathered in Chief Jim Koe Park to honour and commemorate the start of National Addictions Awareness Week.

NNSL photo/graphic

Supporters gather at a bonfire and candlelight vigil in Chief Jim Koe Park on Nov. 17 to start National Addictions Awareness Week. - Danielle Sachs/NNSL photo

It was just the first event in a week packed with activities around town, from cribbage tournaments at the Inuvik Homeless Shelter to a Northern games competition scheduled for Nov. 22 at the Inuvik Youth Centre.

With the wind picking up, the bonfire fought off some of the cold, but when people started talking about their stories of addiction, both personal and by seeing it through a family member, you could feel goosebumps.

"This is a big topic and a priority for me and the rest of the legislative assembly," said Alfred Moses, MLA for Inuvik Boot Lake.

As the candles were lit, the first few from the bonfire and the rest from the neighbouring candles, people shared their thoughts and what the week means for them.

"It's so hard seeing my son so drunk," said one woman as she cupped her hand around the candle flame, shielding it from the wind.

"It's hard when he says 'Mom, I'm sorry,' again. But now he's two weeks sober."

Mayor Floyd Roland was in attendance, showing support and sharing stories.

"We've all had our struggles and it's important to stay strong together," he said.

The activities happening around Inuvik during the week are one way of sharing information and also showing that there are alternatives.

For each event, a ballot can be filled out and entered into a draw for an iPad Mini.

"There are healthy things to do and we're showing what's out there," said Delores Harley.

The key to beating addictions is coming together as a community, but also understanding that everyone deserves respect and support, said Patricia Davidson.

Support without being condescending is crucial, participants said. There's no reason to look down on someone because of their addiction.

"There's no question that addictions are a serious issue in our communities," said Moses.

"Everyone has been touched by it, through family, friends or on their own."

"When we first lit the candles they wouldn't stay lit," said Harley.

"But as time went on and more candles were lit they all stayed on, it shows that together we're strong."

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