By Letter to the Editor on January 28, 2020.
Prior to Christmas I spent six weeks volunteering one day a week at the supervised consumption site with an elder from the Piikani Nation. Like many of us, I wish the supervised consumption site was not there, but it is, and it is needed.
There is so much more to ARCHES than we see at those west doors. There are 17 programs serving some 3,000 individuals, of whom 1,523 are using the supervised consumption services. There are programs for those with HIV, hepatitis C, those needing housing, lab facilities, along with methadone treatment, and workshops for those recovering from addiction and much more.
I am beginning to believe we have named the site wrong; it should be the “Supervised Hospitality Site,” as there are few places most of these individuals can go where they will not be rejected.
In meeting the individuals there, it is obvious that trauma, poverty and dysfunctional families are symptoms of our society and are the basis for much of the addictive behaviour. This supervised site is no doubt a symptom of the absence of strong parental guidance and attention.
Recently I read on a youth website here in Lethbridge it is estimated that a third of our youth will grow up without a supportive and mentoring community. Take a moment and read between that line. Dear parents and grandparents, we need to mentor our children and grandchildren so they do not become a statistic at the consumption site, Wood’s Home or at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre. We owe them that much. I recently read in the Lethbridge Herald that there are 85 agencies in Lethbridge and area that would be assisting families this past Christmas.
We need to collectively challenge ourselves to address the circumstances we have. There needs to be put into place a complete strategy to address the drug crisis and mental-health needs as policing and the excellent staff at the consumption site cannot alone solve our community problem.
In conclusion, we cannot allow drug dealers or users to take away our personal comfort and power while walking throughout our community.