This article appeared in the first issue of “Miyupimaatisuu Dipajamoon, ” a newsletter of the Waskaganish Wellness Society.

Watchia! This is a historical moment. For the record, we are attempting different ways of reaching out to the community, so on behalf of the Waskaganish Wellness Society, we extend our greetings to all our readers. As a summer placement in drug and alcohol counseling and other social service work, it gives me a chance to exercise the skills that I’ve learned.

For those who are still struggling with alcohol and drugs, I want to tell you we are here to help if you want to quit. Only you will know when that will be. The Wellness Centre provides this service for you. This form of communication is a way to notify you of upcoming events and programs available. Eventually this newsletter will be in Cree. …

Where do I begin? I will start by introducing myself. Eli, my name is Charles and I am a recovering alcoholic and a survivor of multi-generational trauma from residential school and childhood family violence.

I was not aware of how the past childhood trauma can make its effect today. I passed on the behaviour I had learned towards my children and my partner. All of them I can say today that I love very much. I lost control to that ugly disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. This business became so intense I needed help. I could not do it alone. The help that I needed was not available so I had to go for treatment at Rainbow Lodge in Wikwemikong, Ontario.

Only when I identified the problems from childhood upbringing was I able to understand my situation today. I also saw that the dysfunction at the time was passed on to the people from the previous generation before that and so on.

Today I’m working on getting my life in a good orderly direction for the past four or five years.

I have attempted this in 1983; I was not ready at the time. Today I have managed to abstain from alcohol and drugs over three years.

I never felt so damn good!

Sobriety is a powerful medicine that we are passing around as much as we used to pass around that bottle, joint or line.

Recovery is an educational process. I continue the process of healing, by educating myself formally and informally. I trained at Canadore College in North Bay, Ontario. I graduated and received my certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. That was where I found… me! They say that one has to help himself before one can help others.

More training was available at the Friendship Centre in North Bay, where I worked as a student placement in the Relapse Prevention Program for eight weeks. The 10 months have been a rewarding experience in 1994-95.1 have done my first year in the Native Social Service Worker program in 1995-96. The second year will begin in September until April of 1997. There are Native seminars, conferences and workshops that I attend. I make contact with people of Native communities in the United States and Canada. Most Native people are struggling in the same healing process.

As a Cree, I am proud to share the knowledge I have been given and continue to pass it on. As Native people we share our strengths and our struggles in helping to build healthier and safer communities. We are paddling the same canoe, in different waters, but we must continue to move forward. That is a struggle in our daily lives. When we reach those healing waters we are thankful. The strength is from the ONE who watches over us, our CREATOR.