OHSWEKEN – Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) has decided it will not be supporting the dispensing of methadone and suboxone through Ancestral Voices Healing Centre in the Ohsweken Village Plaza.
Gail Whitlow, owner of Ancestral Voices and Shaab Syed, a licensed pharmacist, have been seeking council’s approval for the past few months. Whitlow has even designated space in the back of her business where methadone and suboxone would have been available.
We spoke with Whitlow last week and she said that she does not have an official statement prepared yet, but that she “is a Haudenosaunee woman, so Ontario law does not apply.”
The elected chief and council considered concerns from community members and tenants of the Iroquois Plaza when making their decision. They also considered the ownership requirements of the Ontario Drug and Pharmacies Regulations Act.
Several individuals shared their opinion on the Two Row Times Facebook page. Some are content with elected council’s decision, but others seem to be left wondering what elected council’s next move will be now that they are openly unsupportive of Whitlow’s clinic.
“This is disheartening. What happened to Ongwehonweh people taking care of our own,” wrote Cheyenne May Williams on Facebook. “I have family members that would have benefitted greatly from this service and there’s nothing like it out there. Medication to cut the withdraw[al] as well as traditional therapies.”
Others see issues with the drugs themselves and suggest different treatments.
“Methadone does not help, it can actually kill you. Use your spiritual and cultural practices to help your people. Encircle them with love community and forgiveness help them balance their troubled spirit,” wrote Cathy Ismil on Facebook.
SNEC understands that addictions are an ever-growing concern on Six Nations and elected council is diligently working to expand services to meet the current needs of those within the community.
Six Nations Health Services has been researching the link between pain and addictions (physical and emotional) for several years. Recommendations from this project included an expansion of services to the community that range from traditional to medical based interventions, alternative therapies, counselling for addictions and mental health issues, as well as options for methadone and suboxone treatments.
With the best interests of the community at heart, Health Services is currently developing plans to expand addictions services and mental health to address the recommendations arising from their research.
Another key element in meeting the needs of the community will be to explore resources that would make finding transportation to addictions services simpler then the services already in place.
The focus of the service will be for those actively seeking interventions, treatments and ongoing counselling and support with the goal of achieving a substance-free life.