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First Nations bands hosting Young Warriors Workshop in Quesnel

Quesnel Cariboo Observer - 10/11/2018

Lindsay Chung

Observer Contributor

Local First Nations bands are hosting a three-day workshop later this month that will look at Drugs, Alcohol, Gangs and the Power of Education.

Lee Mason is facilitating a Young Warriors WorkshopOct. 18, 19 and 20 at the Quesnel Tillicum Society Friendship Centre.

Mason is the national director of The Young Warriors Network.

"Lee doesn't glorify his colourful past, but he draws upon his many years of personal experiences to show people what can happen when one makes the wrong choices and gets hooked up with gangs and the drug subculture," according to the Young Warriors Network website.

"Lee shares what life was like then and what life is like now that he travels the good red road. Lee is considered by many health directors, health care professionals, RCMP and other law enforcement agencies; parents, teachers and students from across the country as one of the best facilitators in Canada. His vast knowledge about alcohol, drugs, Native North American history, residential schools, youth gangs, youth violence and vandalism prevention practices and the Canadian and United States prison system earns him an almost immediate respect among the thousands of people that have attended his programs."

On Oct. 18, Mason will speak about "the role alcohol and drugs can play in destroying people's lives, their families and their communities." The workshop on Oct. 19 will look at "the real truth about aboriginal gangs: how they use our young people and how they impact our communities." On Oct. 20, Mason will speak about "the power of education and how it can shape your future" and wanting to make a difference in your life and your community.

The workshop is open to youth and adults and is being put on by the Lhtako Dené Nation (Red Bluff), ?Esdilagh First Nation (Alexandria), Nazko First Nation and Lhoosk'uz Dené Nation (Kluskus).

"We have a lot of youth, and a lot of our youth are into drugs, and they're all pretty young," says Kristen Boyd, who works in social development for the Lhtako Dené Nation. "A while ago, our band sent some of our youth to Vancouver with [Lee Mason]. He was really good, and we've heard nothing but good feedback about him."

The workshop will run each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and lunch will be provided each day.

A mental health and addiction clinician will be on-site if anyone needs to talk, according to Boyd.

Sign-up sheets are available at the Quesnel Friendship Centre, Seasons House, Lhoosk'uz Dené Nation Band Office, Lhtako Dené Nation Band Office, ?Esdilagh Band Office and the Nazko Band Office.

Boyd hopes the workshop helps people gain awareness and remember "there's help out there for the people who are afraid to ask."

"Lee has lived the life of drugs and gangs," she says. "We're hoping it will open the eyes of our youth and everybody and address the issue of the opioid crisis and the large number of overdoses."

Boyd wants to emphasize the workshop is open to everyone, not only youth.


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