Wayne Laughren, a worker with the Cote First Nation Youth Centre, knows the struggle of addiction all too well. He’s battled addiction himself, and watched the problem continue in his First Nation as he began his road to recovery.

“Our community out here is struggling very much with alcohol and addiction,” Laughren said.

The ongoing struggle with addiction is what inspired a group from the First Nations of Cote, Key, and Keeseekoose to hold a Drug Awareness Walk Monday. Dozens marched down Highway 8 north of Kamsack, holding signs that read ‘No more opiods’, ‘Drugs are not our culture’, and ‘Moving forward with each other’. The walk was meant to bring awareness to how many people in the three communities have been impacted by drug and alcohol addiction.

“I'm really proud of the people of our Cote First Nation, that they’re starting to realize that drugs is not the way of living,” said Cote First Nation Chief George Cote.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations would like to see more events like the Drug Awareness Walk at First Nations around the province.

“This is a good start, it’s a beautiful day, we had a really good crowd, the line stretched as far as the eye could see,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.

The walk is a step in the right direction, and there’s still work that needs to be done, but the leaders agree that change needs to start with the people in order to have a lasting impact.

“We as the people got to come together to help one another to make a better future for our children, not just our children, but ourselves,” said Chief of Keeseekoose Calvin Straightnose.

“We have to ensure that we got our membership involved,” said Chief Cote. “We also have to continue to listen to the youth.”

With more people looking for ways to make a difference, Laughren is happy to see there’s been a positive shift in attitude, and hopes to see the momentum of the message continue to gain traction.

“When I was addicted, I never seen any awareness,” Laughren said. “Now that I’m recovering, to see our youth standing up against it is touching.”