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When Owen Pelletier of Cowessess First Nation thinks back to her childhood, there are few happy memories.

“My parents suffered trauma and put him to sleep through drugs and alcohol and ended up abandoning our children and we experienced neglect, abuse and neglect,” he told Global News.

Pelletier recalled experiencing the same treatment in foster care, in addition to racism and discrimination.

“As far as I was concerned, I was the cozy little Indian. That was my title. That was my identity, the cozy little Indian, ”he said.

There was no relief at the school where Pelletier said he was harassed and despised.

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“You spend seven years in this type of environment, what do you think will happen to a person? You’ll get angry, ”he said, adding,“ If we don’t know the coping mechanisms, how to deal with it properly, we want to join the gangs and we want to smoke drugs and drink alcohol. ”

This is what happened to Pelletier.

He joined a gang, became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and eventually ended up in the Saskatoon and Regina correctional facilities.

A young native, he never understood the root cause of his struggles.

“Thirty-four years before the lady said, ‘You suffer abandonment and neglect.’

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Once Pelletier realized he was experiencing intergenerational trauma, he began to address it.

“My mother was sent to a residential school as a child. She experienced emotional, physical, mental and sexual abuse by caregivers there and therefore was never cured of it. He buried her deep inside. And drugs and alcohol, that’s how we treat them. That’s how we put pain to sleep, “he said.

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Pelletier has also been the victim of family fractures since the 1960s Scoop by the family’s father.

“Therefore, it is easy to establish this connection, how these intergenerational traumas are transmitted,” he added.

On Recovery Day and National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, Pelletier reflects on his past, his own recovery, and his “second chance at life.”

One of the barriers to recovery, for some, may be the stigma associated with addiction.

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“Society puts this stigma and judgment on people, families, law enforcement, health care providers, everyone has a level of judgment and stigma towards people who use drugs, often thinking it’s their fault. hers, ”explained Louise Lemieux White, co-founder of Families for Addiction Recovery.

“We know that addiction is not a choice and it is a disease that can be treated and prevented and we hope that people can get the compassion and empathy they deserve and not be stigmatized,” White added.

Pelletier said another barrier to recovery may be lack of acceptance.

“Once we understood that we were given a bad hand and that we are not bad people, we were given a bad hand and we suffer traumas and that is why we try to put them to sleep through drugs and alcohol. Once we understand that, we can start breaking that pattern and start healing, ”he said.

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Ontario Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo, who will spend time with several Indigenous communities next month, said Canadians must respect what Indigenous people have gone through and “give them the tools to help -to improve their lives “.

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“There are amazing individuals in indigenous communities who have never had a chance to really shine. There are teachings of indigenous culture that are extremely useful in dealing with many of the mental health problems and addictions we have, ”said Tibollo.

As an inspiring and motivating speaker and father of three, Pelletier now devotes his time to providing positive guidance for Indigenous youth and helping them on the right path.

“There’s so much negativity where they come from, there’s so much drug and alcohol, both inside and outside of prison, and so it was for me,” he said. “Trauma, suffering, pain, pain … I have friends who are on the ground because of this lifestyle and don’t face it. So if you approach it, acknowledge it, accept it and start working and heal yourself … You will have a great life “.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source: https://globalnews.ca/news/8234003/trauma-addiction-recovery-indigenous-first-nation/