Nation-Based Sovereign-Based Government

Commemorating loved ones on International Overdose Awareness Day

August 31, 2021

Commemorating loved ones on International Overdose Awareness Day

Treaty 2 Territory – Today is International Overdose Awareness Day which was initiated in 2001 by Sally J Finn at The Salvation Army in St Kilda, Melbourne and is coordinated by the not-for-profit Australian public health organization Penington Institute.

First Nations in Treaty 2 Territory would like to recognize this day and commemorate our loved ones who have been tragically lost to drug overdose.

It is a sad reality that because of intergenerational inequity, colonialism, genocidal policies and discrimination, First Nations mental wellness has been negatively impacted from this mistreatment.  This includes losing our loved family members and friends to fatal or non-fatal drug overdose. This has impacted our health wellbeing of families, communities and the nation as a whole.

Today, we remember those who prematurely lost their lives or almost lost their lives to this tragedy and remember and honour them as our loved family members. They could have been or are our mother, father, brother, sister, niece, nephew, uncle or auntie.  We do not want them stigmatized and we acknowledge the grief of families, friends, and communities.

To combat this and foster prevention, the Health and Wellbeing Keeper, working with Circle Keepers and the Local Nations, is creating a Good Life – Mino-bimaadiziiwin Ancestral Law to support individuals, families, communities and the Nation to implement Treaty 2 and the right to self-government. This law will support mental wellness and prevent addictions.  This is hoped to be an important step to decrease future losses of life because of drug overdose.

We know Local Nations need access to more funding to support harm-reduction and the broader social determinants of health such as infrastructure, housing, economic opportunities, anti-racism, access to lands and resources, income, education, culture and language, employment, food security, social inclusion and access to health services.  Having these will improve the health outcomes and quality of life. We will not let our loved ones who have passed from drug overdose to be in vain.

The Law will help to support these important factors and improve the quality of life by harnessing our right to implement and create our own health and wellbeing goals, vision, processes and fundamental structures.

There are many important inquiries that have laid the groundwork and recommendations to support mental health and prevent addictions such as the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and the MMIWG National Inquiry Calls to Justice.

For more information on today and other mental wellness and addictions supports and resources, please check out the following links:

About the campaign – International Overdose Awareness Day (

Fact Sheet: Harm Reduction | Thunderbird Partnership Foundation (

Thunderbird Document Library (free mental health coaching program for adults and youth 15+ to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety)

Resource List – Copy(AutoRecovered).xlsx ( Mental Wellness and Substance Use Resources in Manitoba

Of note is the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation who created a First Nations Mental Wellness Assessment Tool and also offers training; the Buffalo Riders Program to help provide young people with early interventions and support services to help reduce harmful substance-using behavior; and an Addictions Management Information System (AMIS) to enable NNADAP and NYSAP Treatment Centres to analyse client data quickly, streamline reporting, and focus on outcomes monitoring. Thunderbird Partnership Foundation (


Kim McPherson

Health and Wellbeing Keeper

Last modified: August 31, 2021

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