Warriors in Recovery started up this week and held its first session last night (Tuesday).  Organizer Jonathan Pashe says it's done in person or by way of online Zoom meetings comprised of recovering addicts helping each other on the road to recovery.

"This is a program of complete abstinence from all drugs and alcohol," says Pashe. "The basic purpose of our service is communication, coordination, information, and guidance. The idea was started in February during our first healing sweat lodge. Now we got 12 First Nations and some guest speakers lined up to come out and visit and share. So, it's getting pretty big there, so far."

Pashe says they're hoping to get more as they progress with more First Nations people in the north. 

"But this is for everyone. Everyone's invited, but yes, we're trying to get more First Nations communities involved, basically, with the Zoom meetings," continues Pashe. "We've all been through the systems and Colin James is the one who's setting us all up. He's been trying to get us going for years, but finally, we're ready to go."

A Sobriety Sharing Circle is also part of the effort, which has been taking place each Friday beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Keeshkeemaquah Gaming Centre and Mondays at 6 at Long Plain Spirit Lodge led by Facilitator Devan Assiniboine. Sweat lodges and sobriety healings are more efforts related to the programs they're implementing to help people recover.

"We just gather in a circle and we go around with smudge," says Assiniboine. "Everyone has an opportunity to smudge and then we have an opening prayer. Then we have a hand drum singer who sings an honour song and a healing song for the people in recovery and the people we lost, too. I've had people attending who deal with grief and loss. That's something that's been going on for a few months."

She explains one woman realized she's been sober since she's been coming to the sharing circle. 

"It's been a little over two months for her and we just want to give her recognition for that. It's helping the community and the people from Dakota Tipi and our neighbours. They come and join us, too, regularly and people from Portage la Prairie attend the circles regularly. I recently put together a committee and we did some fundraising for hoodies, and in the near future, some trips like medicine picking and sweat lodges. I'm very grateful that Colin and Jonathan are starting sweats here last month, so that's going to help a lot." 

Assiniboine says people tell her they look forward to the gatherings, saying it's a good way to spend their Friday nights sober in a nice, safe, and comfortable environment.

"After the sharing circle is done, we all have a bite to eat together and offer door prizes. Last year, I was giving everybody a gift, but the circles grew so fast that it gets a little bit too much, sometimes. So, I just got it down to like door prizes now."

Assiniboine says she's known Jonathan Pashe since their teens and met him in the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) rooms again. 

"Recently, people have been talking about starting another NA group because there's only one group in Portage and we're finally doing it," adds Assiniboine. "Not everybody's here, though, that wanted to be a part of it, but maybe they'll eventually join us later."

Youth Mental Health Worker for Long Plain First Nation Sierra Myran says she also met Devan in the rooms last summer.

"I'm just here for support," says Myran. "I'm very proud of my own recovery and to be a part of something that would help both of our communities. It feels really great."

Pashe adds they eventually want to see more groups started up for men as well as women. 

"Also some drum groups, maybe. We want to get some youth speakers and gatherings, maybe elder and youth camps. I'd just like to say, we've all been affected by drugs and alcohol. We've all lost someone very close and dear to us. We're going to the point where we all just said, 'Enough is enough,' and I believe this is the way we can help people. That's the main goal is to help people. Like it says in our poster: 'No More Fallen Brothers and Sisters.' We're done with that."