Taken from: MeadowlakeNOW
Clearwater River Chief Teddy Clark told meadowlakeNOW he continues to be amazed with the people of northern communities after liquor stores were closed on May 9. One of the biggest concerns community leaders initially had was the congregation of people around liquor facilities during the first phases of the outbreak, which posed a threat to the rest of the community.
“When we shut down the liquor establishments over a week ago, that has helped tremendously. We’ve had people respond to that quite well,” Clark said. “We were seeing numbers going up by nearly half but now after we’ve put a control in place, we’re seeing some days where few or no numbers at all are being reported.”
Clark said he sees a start difference in the community since the Manage Alcohol Program was implemented. The program focuses on individuals severely dependent on alcohol and provides them with controlled doses three times per day. He said some are already seeing improvements in their health and no longer feel an urge to drink alcohol. Clark said there are 50 people enrolled in the program.
The homeless shelter is now at full capacity with 20 occupants. Clark said providing those without a home has also helped them focus on improving their lifestyle.
“These are people who never really had a home,” he said. “Some were chronic alcohol users before and once they’ve checked into the shelter, some have even sobered up and look very healthy.”
“A lot of people who turn to alcohol and drugs, the reason that happens is because they have nothing to turn to, nothing to call home,” Clark said. “These are the people we need to look after.”
A new goal the chief has set with community leadership including La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre and Leonard Montgrand, council member with Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, is to find a way to keep this support going once the pandemic ends.
“If it wasn’t for a lot of the extra funding being injected into La Loche and Clearwater River, we probably would have never made this that successful,” he said.
Northern leaders are closely documenting the community’s response to emergency efforts and collecting data to put forward a proposal for ongoing support from the federal and provincial governments.
An anonymous donation
Gary Vidal, Member of Parliament for Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River met the La Loche mayor at a checkpoint today delivering nearly 10,000 masks from an anonymous donor.
According to Vidal, a person from Toronto watching the outbreak unfold in La Loche, flew to Edmonton on Sunday morning and drove the masks to Vidal personally so he could get them up quickly to the community.
“There’s many things the pandemic can potentially teach us,” he said. “It forces us to take some actions and do some things differently than we might have thought we would do before the pandemic.”