The ‘Not Us’ drug campaign kicked off on March 29 at the Community Hall.
Hay River residents poured into the room full of food, fun and information bringing to light the risks involved with substance abuse.
Information booths were set up to draw eyes to the information, and the Justice department set up t-shirt and poster making stations to allow supporters of the Hay River Strategic Drug Strategy to voice their opinions in their own creative way. Steve Elms was constructing balloon animals for kids and adults alike, and a lunch was spread out along the side wall.
“This is really a grassroots campaign,” said Megan Holsapple, communications representative with the Department of Justice. “We are funding the community to do their own community campaign.”
The campaign is to span across the NWT for the next two years, and is encouraging people to adapt their own methods, like creating t-shirts with anti-drug use phrases such as “Not My Hay River”, or “Not Me”.
“It is keeping with the campaign spirit of doing something that has meaning for you,” said Holsapple.
Residents of all ages were present for the campaign launch as were some keynote speakers.
Chief Roy Fabian from the Hay River Reserve opened the launch with a prayer, and then spoke about the importance of drug education and prevention.
“For me, it is difficult to say my people have drug and alcohol problems,” he said. “I pray and I hope the Dene people through the NWT embrace this program and make it work for them.”
Minister of Justice Jackson Lafferty spoke to the audience about the importance of coming together to make this program work, and Minister of Health and Social Services Sandy Lee praised Hay River for taking initiative to curb substance abuse.
“We should not be overwhelmed by drugs and drug dealers,” she said.
After the speakers, the ‘Not Me’ commercial finally made its first public appearance, much to the delight of the local stars.
Jill Taylor, one of the spearheads behind this campaign explained that drugs are an issue across Canada, and that the community is trying to prevent harder drugs from becoming more prominent.
“I think in Hay River we are trying to be proactive instead of waiting for bad news,” she said. “We don’t believe there is meth in the community, and ‘Not Me’ is about staying ahead.”
For more information on the campaign, visit www.not-us.ca.