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Blood Tribe Reserve holds day of prayer over COVID-19, opioid crisis hardships

Blood Tribe Reserve holds day of prayer over COVID-19, opioid crisis hardships
WATCH ABOVE: Members of the Blood Tribe got in touch with their Indigenous roots and traditions on Thursday, hosting a day of prayer in response to the challenges the community is facing because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing opioid crisis. Taz Dhaliwal has the story.

The Kainai Wellness Centre held a day of prayer Thursday afternoon as a convoy of vehicles made its way through Moses Lake, Lavern, Stand Off and the Old Agency.

The convoy stopped in each community to allow an elder to pray and perform a smudge for community members experiencing loss and grief due to COVID-19 and the opioid crisis.

“We’ve had 36 [COVID-19 cases] in total. I believe 29… [have recovered] and seven that are quarantined… but we have control on it,” said Roger Prairie Chicken, the manager of the Kainai Wellness Centre
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Prairie Chicken said the Blood Reserve is managing the situation closely to ensure numbers continue to decline.

Read more: Alberta’s Blood Tribe sees 1st death related to COVID-19

Unfortunately, the reserve has experienced a death in relation to the novel coronavirus. On June 8., the community lost 76-year-old Adrian Buck Many Fingers, an elder who had survived one of Canada’s residential schools.

The centre wants residents to know there are resources that are accessible to them.

“We do a lot of phone line counselling, scoop counselling… Skype counselling — we’re available,” said Prairie Chicken.

Read more: Blood Tribe in southern Alberta sees 14 cases of COVID-19, offers drive-up testing

Reserve health workers are also continuing the ongoing fight to save lives being lost to addictions.

“The whole idea is a reminder to not forget who we are,” said Onistaya Kopi Kith Chiefmoon, an elder who works as a community engagement co-ordinator at the Kainai Wellness Centre.

“So that’s what’s really important, that we make the connection and remember who we are and to stay away from the alcohol and drugs because they were never a part of our way of life.”

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The elder said the purpose behind ceremonies like the one on Thursday is to help keep Indigenous teachings that have been around for millennia alive so that they can provide guidance to those who need it.