PASQUA FIRST NATION -- Former NHL player Theoren Fleury joined in a sober walk and spoke to students on the Pasqua First Nation Tuesday as part of National Addictions Awareness Week in the community.

Fleury, an abuse survivor who has previously struggled with drugs and alcohol, shared his story with students.

The former Calgary Flame had no trouble holding their attention.

“I don’t like the word ‘addiction’ because it has so much shame attached to it,” Fleury said. “I’ve renamed it; I call it ‘emotional pain management’. Those of us who experience trauma, we’re left in emotional pain and suffering.”

“Because we don’t necessarily have the tools to deal with the trauma, we use whatever kind of addiction we can to numb out that pain and suffering.”

Todd Peigan, the chief of Pasqua First Nation, says the point of this week is to bring in different speakers to keep awareness high on struggles with addiction and the dangers of substance abuse.

“If you stop bringing that awareness then you’re not addressing it,” Peigan said. “In continuing addressing it, keep instilling it, keep grinding it into our people, into our children, into our youth, it only brings positive outcomes tomorrow.”

“We want to make sure they know we care for them, that their parents and their First Nation cares for them, because if we don’t then we are not giving them the tools to succeed for tomorrow.”

Fleury also spoke of how spirituality has helped him, a message that resonated with students.

“I feel very blessed to be able to do the work,” Fleury said. “I would say the big message is getting back to spirituality, because to me it’s been the key to my own personal recovery.”

“There’s so much healing power in the sweat lodge, or a powwow, powwow dancing, expressing your inner soul so to speak.”

Fleury will also be speaking in the Onion Lake Cree Nation later this week.

Addictions Awareness Week on Pasqua ends with a round dance on Saturday.