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Since declaring a state of emergency in 2015 due to drug-related deaths, the Blood Tribe has been in recovery mode. On Wednesday, residents gathered to provide support for those struggling and to remind kids of the dangers of drugs.

The two-day Kids Against Drugs run kicked off Wednesday morning featuring students from across southern Alberta.

The event carries real significance for organizer Pamela Little Bear, who struggled with a prescription drug addiction in the past. With the support of her family, Little Bear has been off the drugs for nine years and now hopes to help others get clean.

“I know my family members will be running for family members that are still using and are getting help,” Little Bear said. “There’s still a drug problem we have on our reserve and we want the users to seek help, because there’s a lot of help out there.”

More than 40 students took part in the run, some having already seen what drugs can do to someone’s life.

Fourteen-year-old Colby Sanspariel goes to Cardston School and says he knows family members and friends who have used drugs.

“I feel bad for them. I just want them to get better. It’s such a bad thing,” Sanspariel said. “Maybe they’ll realize what they’re doing and cut it out, see who it’s affecting.”

The kids will camp Wednesday night and hear from local doctors on the dangers of drugs, then wrap up the run Thursday evening.

Little Bear wants people to know a drug-free life is the right life.

“Once you’re clean, you don’t want to go back to that lifestyle,” Little Bear said. “The best way to live life is being drug free and alcohol free.”

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