Best Practices in Community Mobilization in Response to Substance Use Related Epidemics Conference


Please join us for events during a two-day conference on best practices for community mobilization in response to substance use related epidemics.

The opioid epidemic is a crisis in the United States. In Virginia, on average, three people die each day of opioid overdose, and dozens are treated for them in emergency rooms.  This epidemic seriously affects individuals, support networks of family and friends, healthcare providers, and the healthcare system. For this conference, Canadian colleagues who have developed innovative care solutions for substance use and related epidemics will join us to share their perspectives and strategies.

This conference will highlight how communities can develop community-based, culturally-competent care to address the issues of substance use and related epidemics such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and neonatal abstinence syndrome. The conference will emphasize the impact of law, health policy, politics, and stigma on the social determinants of the opioid epidemic and its outcomes, especially as they relate to vulnerable populations.

Speakers and small group facilitators will be from the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Saskatchewan, Big River First Nation community, Ahtahkakoop First Nation community, the Virginia Department of Health, Louisville Metro Public Health & Wellness, and the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition.

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  • Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation
    Chief Ahtahkakoop signed Treaty 6 at Fort Carlton on August 23, 1876. He wished to have a reserve adjoining Mistawasis on the Green Lake Trail at Sandy Lake, as his band already had houses and gardens there. The reserve was surveyed in the summer and fall of 1878, but when the survey was completed the reserve was neither in the location nor of the size that had been advised to the surveyors. Chief Ahtahkakoop died on December 4, 1896, and Basil Starblanket became chief. The land at Sandy Lake was fertile, and though the band suffered many hardships and setbacks, progress was made. The 1929 fall in market prices, followed by prolonged drought, forced people off reserve as they sought employment clearing land and helping on farms. The first church was built in 1874, and Reverend Hines started the first school in 1876. The band's infrastructure includes a school, workshop, warehouse, police station, RCMP residences, fire hall, health clinic, band hall, arena, gymnasium, daycare, the Lonesome Pine Convenience Store, the Indian Child and Family Services Agency, and the Cree Nations Treatment Centre. In 2000 the band-owned Ahtahkakoop Publishing Company published its first book, Ahtahkakoop: The Epic Account of a Cree Head Chief, His People, and Their Struggle for Survival, 1816-1896. Currently there are 2,706 registered members, with 1,440 people living on their 17,347-hectare reserve 72 km northwest of Prince Albert.
  • Big River First Nation
    The Big River First Nation is located 120 kilometres northwest of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. It is roughly 11,964 hectares in size with a total population of about 2,200 and presently has roughly 1,600 members residing on reserve. In 1878, Chief Saseewahum signed as an adhesion to Treaty No. 6 and up until twenty years after this point members of the Big River band made their living through means of hunting and fishing. The traditional language of the members of Big River First Nation is Cree.