Manitoba residential school survivor holding event to help others beat addiction

One Manitoba residential school survivor is celebrating 48 years of sobriety, and this weekend, she is hosting an event that will see hundreds of people come together to beat addiction. Alex Karpa reports.

By Alex Karpa

It’s a cause for celebration for one Manitoba residential school survivor — who is not only marking 48 years of sobriety but is also doing everything she can to help others who are battling addiction.

Belinda Vandenbroeck attended Mackay residential school in Dauphin, Manitoba for 10 years. She says after her time at the school, she didn’t know who she was.

“We didn’t love ourselves. So, we do things to hurt ourselves, and we have to stop that now,” she explained.

On February 4, 1975, Vandebroeck made a decision that would change her life. Through her healing journey, she discovered who she was and decided to get sober and through her journey, Vandenbroeck is now celebrating 48 years of sobriety. On Saturday, she will also be hosting her 15th sobriety social, with 600 people in attendance.

Belinda Vandenbroeck residential school survivor helping other beat addictions. (Photo Credit: Alex Karpa, CityNews)

“It’s up to me as an Indigenous person, to be there to help,” said Vandenbroeck. “I think it’s very important that we support each other in our sobriety, and that we have a place to come to, to support each other, love each other and be kind to one another.”

Winnipeg’s largest homeless shelter, Siloam Mission, announced Friday that it is making changes to its entry policy and removing its sobriety requirement.

CEO of Siloam Mission, Tessa Whitecloud says instead of requiring people to be sober to enter the shelter, they must instead follow behaviour requirements.

“Anybody who is looking for services can come to Siloam and access the services they need, as long as they can also be safe, be respectful, and be here to have a need met,” said Whitecloud.

Belinda Vandenbroeck residential school survivor helping other beat addictions. (Photo Credit: Alex Karpa, CityNews)

Whitecloud says this decision has been in the works for the past year, and the decision itself was made to improve support, reduce violence, and improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg. She says it’s important to eliminate the shame that comes with substance use.

“People can’t start their recovery if they feel it is a barrier that they are using substances because then they feel further traumatized,” said Whitecloud.

Vandenbroeck says it’s important to continue the path towards reconciliation because, without it, there will be no healing.

“It is up to each one of us to wake up to that, and stand in our truth and be proud of who we are, and never ever cower to anyone, no matter what they say, and what they think.”

VANDENBROECK (Belinda Vandenbroeck, residential school survivor, celebrating 48 years of sobriety) OC:

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