Blood Tribe Communications & Community Engagement Releases Poster and Billboard as Part of a Strategic Messaging Campaign Battling the Opioid Crisis
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2023 – Blood Reserve, Alberta
The Blood Tribe Communications & Community Engagement has released a poster and billboard as a part of a strategic messaging campaign battling the Opioid Crisis. The strategic messaging campaign had input from Blood Tribe frontline workers, medical professionals, and Persons with Lived Experience (PWLE). The strategic messaging campaign intends to prevent opioid misuse and ultimately reduce the amount of opioid related deaths in our community.
The poster is titled “Kimmapiiyipitsinni: Compassion”, made by Blood Tribe artist Bryce Singer. The image is aimed towards both adult and youth demographics. The topic is on the prevention of opioid misuse and opioid related deaths in the community. A small map of Akainai is seen in the sky aligned in the direction with the Milky Way, or Makoiyohsokoyi (The Wolf Trail), to remind Blood Tribe members of the story about the wolves that once took pity on us in the past and how they taught us to live with one another, to care for each other, to have compassion, empathy. A small child and her mother are seen walking toward a young woman. The Standoff tower is in the background to show the location. The image is about checking in on the people we love and visiting with our families, communities, and listening to each other, allowing ourselves and others to be heard.
About the artist:
Bryce Many Fingers / Singer (Mano’taanikaapi) is an artist and member of the Blood Tribe (Kainai) in Southern Alberta. Bryce’s mixed media art aims to build an understanding of Niitsitapi culture and history, as well as a relationship to the land. His graphic style is influenced by Blood Tribe artist Gerald Tail Feathers (Iitsiki’tsaawaawahka – Walks Up High). He also takes inspiration from literary works such as ‘The Ways of My Grandmothers’ by Beverly Hungry Wolf, and ‘Invisible Reality’ by Rosalyn R. Lapier.
The billboard is titled “Iinihkátsís Kóták: Call on your spirit.”, designed by Blood Tribe Communications Officer and artist, Blaire Russell. The statement reminds Blood Tribe members the importance of calling on your spirit, bringing balance and harmony to oneself. Blood Tribe council member and elder Martin Heavy Head is featured in the image with the Milky Way in the background.
The translation was provided by Blood Tribe community member and elder, Duane Mistaken Chief. He explains, Wellness: What did we lose in the process of assimilation via industrial Schools then Residential Schools? We lost our ways of capacity building. Our ways – and I speak to Blackfoot Lifeways specifically – are all about capacity building. The capacity to take on any obstacle in our life journey. Iitapowaawahkaopi – where we are walking to – life is a walk. From an early age and even before birth – our mothers, fathers, and community / kitsi’ihkowa’nooniksi impart knowledge to us. The knowledge to live life and address and obstacle that we encounter. As one of my Elders, Mamiokakiikin / Bitter root (Adam Delaney) said on more than one occasion, “if you have listened to what you have been told (the knowledge imparted to you) you should have no problem overcoming any obstacle in life, but if you haven’t listened… then you will have difficulty. Then Ootahkoisaapóp / Yellow Plume (Alan Prairie Chicken) often reminded us, “Aatsimoyihkaan will remove any obstacle that you encounter in your life.”
Our spirit must be tended too, not just the physical body. After all, we are spirit and body combined and to be kept intact. Any separation of the two will lead to problems. Sickness, starvation, trauma can cause that separation that is so detrimental to living a good life – soksipaitapiiyssinni… sipatsii paitapiiyssin.
Legislation, assimilation, Industrial schools, residential schools, starvation, and forced conversion to Christianity and sanctions caused the separation of us and the ways of life that provided us wellness. Ceremony was most important because all that was sacred in our ways was held in the sacred and maintained. That’s why we can’t look at ceremony as separate from our everyday lives.
Ceremony is transferred to everyday life. If we use that knowledge acquire in the sacred and apply it to the profane (everyday life), we will live well. The residential schools replaced our ways of knowing and sacred ways with a foreign concept of religion. Aatsimoyihkaan. In the process traumatizing our people. Separating body from spirit. The result is dysfunction like alcohol abuse, drug addiction, violence, etc. All rooted in trauma. And subsequent intergenerational trauma which carries for at least 3 generations and new traumas prolong that.
That is what we lost… the capacity building ways of our people. So, if we are asked what we lost… we lost all that. We can’t just pick ourselves up by the bootstraps. We must establish our validity building ways. The ability to address those problems through returning to our Lifeways and knowledge. It served us for tens of thousands of years. We didn’t just stumble through the darkness and happen to have survived till now. Those ways ensured our survival. And they still can. Iiyiika’kimaak Níksókowaawák.
The billboard is on display at Red Crow Park along Highway 2 in Standoff, Alberta.
Media contact: Blaire Russell, Communications Officer
Blood Tribe Communications & Community Engagement
(403)360-0485 – [email protected]