Pubdate: Wed, 08 Apr 2009
Source: Slave River Journal (CN NT)
Copyright: 2009 The Slave River Journal
Author: Samantha Stokell


Concerned citizens are rallying against drugs in their community by
getting together and facing the issue head on.

Community members are forming a community drug strategy to deal with
drugs in the area, after a week of drug awareness workshops in Fort
Smith by Detective-retired Steve Walton. He assisted other grassroots
efforts in Alberta and thinks this will help stop drugs in the community.

"A drug coalition is an effective step because criminals hate it. It
causes them anxiety," he said. "The community becomes a hard target
and they will move to a softer target. The impact is a positive step
forward. The community is doing the right thing."

Walton visited Fort Smith last week to do a number of workshops with
all members of the community: students in the schools and college;
inmates at River Ridge and the Territorial Women's Correctional Centre
(TWCC); a community meeting for caregivers; and a two-day seminar with
professionals from medical, social and child care services. Larisa
Doyle, supervisor of the Healthy Families program and manager of
Sutherland House organized the events.

"I've heard people say drugs are an issue of importance in the
community and they want know what to do before it gets worse," Doyle
said. "It's important when community members work together because it
creates an unfriendly community for drugs."

The first meeting of the community drug strategy will be held this
Thursday, April 2, to discuss concerns about drugs in the community.
As a professional, simply having the information available to pass on
is an asset, Doyle said. She now knows the status and trends of drugs
and can share that information with parents and women.

"All parents are worried about drugs and kids, how to protect them and
what drugs do," she said. "I can give information to women about drugs
of choice by sexual predators and how they can protect

Theresa Beaulieu, chair of the justice committee in Fort Smith and
addictions counselor for River Ridge and TWCC, said it's important to
make people aware of drugs and the effect drugs have.

"People need as much information as possible," Beaulieu said. "The
community should know drugs are in Fort Smith. We can give as much
information as we can and identify what they are. Complaining won't do

Drugs are a high stakes issue, and as an undercover officer Walton
witnessed people as young as six and as old as 85 use drugs. He knows
the effects they have.

"Drugs destroy lives. It's up to us to prevent and treat and show the
effects," he said. "Every drug addict says they want to not be a drug
addict. Nobody plans to be a cocaine addict."

When it comes to children, having a drug policy is the best way to
deal with it, Walton said.

"A passive role will come across as not caring," he said. "Some kids
will try no matter what. It's important to have the information and
for a community trying to be healthy and facilitate healthy choices,
information can lead to healthier communities."

Anyone interested in attending the first meeting of the community drug
strategy can attend in Room 148 at Aurora College. Use entrance D.
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