The Carrier Sekani Family Service Youth Services team is shedding light on youth who are struggling with addictions.

The campaign called #BreaktheStigma in recognition of Addictions Awareness Week will include stories of those with lived experiences and red branded wristbands which will serve as a reminder to accept those struggling with addictions.

According to the BC Coroners Service more than 1500 lives have been lost to illicit toxic drugs in 2021.

Data from the Coroners Service reported that the Upper Skeena LHA has one of the highest rate illicit drug toxicity deaths.

According to Director of Practice of Youth Services Amy Merritt Indigenous people are over represented throughout the opioid crisis.

She said the historical reasons about why Indigenous people are so impacted needs to be looked at.

“Changing the stigma means changing our own stereotypes and biases about what addiction looks like and actually look at what has caused these addictions,” Merrit said.

She added there continues to be a stigma for people who use drugs.

Merritt works at the Sk’ai Zeh Yah Youth Centre in Prince George.

She says it is a safe place where youth can come and feel welcome.

“We see kids who are asking for help, who are looking to go to treatment centres, who are looking to detox, who are looking for stability in their life but often due to a lack of resources we don’t have that,” Merritt said.

She added the campaign is also a reminder for those struggling with addiction that it is okay to get help.

Additionally, the Carrier Sekani Family Services continue to work with the province, Canada and the First Nation Health Authority about fully developing the Tachik Lake Healing and Treatment Centre.