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Support group one of a kind in Regina for recovering meth addicts, say walk organizers

The Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services held a community walk in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood on Tuesday, to bring awareness and education to those in the area about the rising problem of crystal meth.

The Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Service has been organizing a local support group that meet weekly, geared towards helping those who are dealing with crystal meth. Today’s walk is to bring that awareness to the community. (Penny Smoke )

As people gathered in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood for a first-ever crystal meth awareness walk, one recovering meth user said a new support group is part of what’s making a difference.  

“The reality of what we are dealing with in our daily lives needs to be addressed,” said Richard Dubois, a community artist who has been travelling to First Nations communities. Dubois is a mentor for a Regina support group called Crystal Clear, specially targeted at those recovering from meth addictions.  

He called for more preventative measures, rather than reactive ones, to the problem of rising meth use.

“Meth is a completely different monster.” 

Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services (YTCCFS) is the driving force for the support group, and for Tuesday’s walk. 

“Meth means death, choose to live,” Rae Shingoose, the organization’s director of prevention services, told a crowd of nearly a hundred people in attendance. 

“We have come together to bring awareness to the devastating effects crystal meth have on an individual, and also to reduce the stigma associated with crystal meth when someone is in recovery or when someone is needing to start their recovery journey.”

Organizers and participants take part in a walk raising awareness of crystal meth, hosted by Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services. (Penny Smoke )

Over the years, crystal meth use has been steadily climbing, along with crime and mental health issues, she said, explaining the members of YTCCFS decided to become the catalyst for supporting those who are in recovery.

YTCCFS represents 14 central Saskatchewan First Nations, with many of its members living in Regina dealing with the addiction, Shingoose said. 

Often times, members of YTCCFS travelled from Yorkton to Regina to help support their clients, but after witnessing and getting requests from their urban membership  in Regina, Shingoose said the decision was made to open a Regina office. 

The call out is for everyone to know that crystal meth means death and that it is very devastating.– Rae Shingoose, Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services Inc. 

In July 2018, YTCCFS opened that Regina office and began The Crystal Clear Support Group, a 12- step program where crystal meth users, former users and sponsors get a chance to share their stories of recovery. 

“We see individuals who need support to access services to come off crystal meth,” said Shingoose. 

Rae Shingoose is the director of prevention services, with Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services. (Matt Howard )

After one year in service, Crystal Clear has seen hundreds of people walk through their doors, she said.

Word of the group began to spread, with family members of users also wanting to attend. 

“We had parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles just showing up on their own. We knew we needed a place for these individuals too,” said Shingoose, explaining a separate group called Stand Up was formed for these family members.

Meetings are held weekly for both the Crystal Clear and Stand Up support groups at the  Mâmawêyatitân Centre, located in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood.

Currently, there are no other supports groups like Crystal Clear in the city, according to Shingoose. 

Shingoose points out that the time it can take as long as six months to two years to recover from crystal meth use, with patients at times seeking care outside of the province. 

She’d like to see more mental health and treatment services here in Saskatchewan, directed specifically for crystal meth users and their families.

“The call out is for everyone to know that crystal meth means death and that it is very devastating. One use is all it takes,” said Shingoose. “Don’t do it.” 

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