Pubdate: Wed, 25 Oct 2006
Source: Bridge River Lillooet News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Lillooet News


Pemberton has "The Jungle" -- a place where people go to use alcohol 
and drugs. Lillooet has its own notorious hangouts -- the school 
trail and down over the CN Rail tracks. There are many similarities 
between the two communities   and one significant difference.

Pemberton and Mount Currie have earned recognition across B.C. for 
taking the brave -- and necessary -- step of "finding common ground 
on which to walk" when dealing with the drug and alcohol problems 
damaging both communities. They learned the hard way, through a 
tragic death, that drug and alcohol abuse was never 'your' problem - 
it was always 'our' problem.

Will Lillooet and its St'at'imc neighbours be able to emulate the 
example of Mount Currie and Pemberton? Do our community leaders -- 
and we don't mean just the elected ones -- have the courage and 
commitment to recognize that we, too, have a common problem that can 
only be tackled by a genuine resolve and effort to work together?

At first glance, it seems like an overwhelming task. Alcohol abuse is 
a decades-old, generation-after-generation blight upon Lillooet. All 
you need to do is go to the town hall on any court day to see the 
human misery that results from alcohol abuse.

And we don't need to look any farther than this week's story about a 
busted marijuana grow op in Fountain Alley or School Board Chair Val 
Adrian's comments about students who are afraid to use the high 
school trail to confirm that we have a drug problem here.

We thought Mount Currie Councillor Joanne John made a particularly 
pertinent observation last week when she stated, "It's a huge job 
because you have to clean up your own backyard." For starters, that 
means examining patterns of use in our communities, the perceptions 
we have about drugs and alcohol and the personal choices we all make.

While the task is daunting, some groundwork has been laid. For 
several years, the District of Lillooet and its St'at'imc neighbours 
have been holding community forums to discuss issues of common 
concern. These forums are still at the early stage, but we believe 
they are one way for community leaders to build trust. Somewhat 
surprisingly, the Town Creek fire of 2004 left a positive legacy for 
Lillooet. Many people from Lillooet and the nearby aboriginal 
communities established new levels of friendship and trust during 
those long, intense hours of working together in the emergency 
operations centre.

There are other positives. Joanne John and Elinor Warner both 
remarked on the fact that their communities are still working towards 
establishing a Friendship Centre like the one Lillooet enjoys, with 
the programs it offers. Plus, we have the REC Centre, which brings 
together kids to play on sports teams.

And now we have the model and the example of Pemberton and Mount 
Currie, advice and support from their leaders and the practical 
recommendations contained in their Winds of Change report.

The question is -- do we also have the wisdom and will to acknowledge 
that drug and alcohol abuse was always 'our' problem and never 'your' problem?
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MAP posted-by: Elaine