Left to right: Community paramedic Cay Hülsen and Friendship House counsellors William Gye and Katie Mierau served hot chili and salad to the community last Monday.

Prince Rupert’s service providers on a mission to end addiction stigma

Friendship House, Hülsen and other services collaborate on National Addiction Awareness Week

Prince Rupert’s Friendship House, in collaborative with other community partners, marked National Awareness Week with a series of informative and fun events for the community.

This year’s theme was “stigma ends with me” explained Katie Mireau, alcohol and drug counsellor at the Friendship House..

“Even using the word addict has a stigma attached to it. I would classify a person as an individual and we really need to start including them more in the community because it is important for them to feel needed,” she said.

Monday kicked off with a chili and salad cook out at their playground where residents were invited to eat a hot lunch for free and learn more about the services they offer.

“The day is also about getting nutritious scrub to people who may not have access to nutrious food,” said Lochlan Smyth, the Friendship House chef.

READ MORE: Minister of Mental Health and Addictions visits Prince Rupert for first time

The week continued on Tuesday at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre with the Community Health & Wellness Fair, where multiple service prodivers were present to put a face to their names.

Prince Rupert’s community paramedic, Cay Hülsen, gave wellness checks to residents who stopped by the Community Health & Wellness Fair, Wednesday at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

Youth were also invovled in the fair, promoting their hub with the Friendship House.

“The Youth Hub is a comfortable safe place that keeps people busy and promotes a healthy living which helps prevent addiction,” said Charlie Byers, youth support worker.

Wednesday and Thursday were full of fun and games at the library and at Git Lach M’oon (formerly known as the Anchor Inn).

“We do have a lot of great service providers and support in the community so we just want to make sure we get people connected and put a face to all those organizations,” Mierau said.

The week ended off with a friendly dodge ball match between the Prince Rupert RCMP and the community.

The RCMP played a friendly game of dodgeball with the community, mostly youth, on Friday because it was important for them to get to know residents without their uniforms on. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

“We want to get to know the community, especially the youth, without the uniform on,” explained Cpl. Devon Gerrits.

Other service providers and support groups present throughout the week were the Kaien Anti-Poverty Society, North Coast Immigrant & Multicultural Services Society, the North Coast Transition Society, community paramedic Cay Hülsen among others.

READ MORE: Art exhibit to explore addiction in Prince Rupert

Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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