Opioid challenges and treatment addressed at film screening and panel

October 6, 2015 – Thunder Bay, ON

A film screening and panel at Lakehead University on Thursday, Oct. 8 will discuss the challenges of opioid addiction and treatment in Northwestern Ontario’s First Nation communities.

In This Heaven documents the tireless efforts of Mae Katt, a First Nation nurse practitioner, as she runs a mobile drug addiction treatment program in the remote, underserved Matawa First Nation communities of Northern Ontario.

After the screening, a panel of eminent leaders hosted by Aboriginal Initiatives at Lakehead University, Matawa First Nations, and Aboriginal Initiatives, Northwest Region, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health/Provincial System Support Program will discuss opioid addiction.

Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Vice-Provost, Aboriginal Initiatives, at Lakehead University, will moderate this important and timely discussion.

“Understanding and mitigating the high rates of addiction and damages to families must be a priority for health care professionals and our communities. It will take a mutual effort to ensure our children have the bright future they deserve. I am honoured to moderate this important dialogue,” Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux said.

The panel will include Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum, Nishnawbe Aski Nation; Mae Katt, Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner; Chief Wayne Moonias, Neskantaga First Nation; James Morris, Executive Director of the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority; Dr. Christopher Mushquash, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction, Lakehead University; and Glenn Nolan, Vice-President, Aboriginal Affairs, Noront Resources.

Matawa leaders underscore the urgency of treatment and the gravity of the situation. 

“The Matawa member First Nations have been in a crisis state for many decades from alcoholism, pandemic suicidal rates and more recently prescription drug abuse and misuse,” said David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO of Matawa First Nations Management.

“Along with inadequate water, housing and poor economic conditions, the Peoples of the Land never got an opportunity to properly heal. Unless governments and the resource sector fully understand the real life and death situation of our Peoples, there will never be consent given for any development. 

“Investments must be made for First Nations to implement their healing and socio-economic strategies, because we have the answers and the plans. I believe through working together we can develop healthy thriving communities and Peoples who can contribute to the economy of our territories and Canada for many decades to come. We are all in it together,” he said.

The screening and panel will be held on Thursday, Oct. 8 at Lakehead University in Room UC2011 above the Agora.

Doors open at 6:30 pm with the documentary screening at 7 pm and the panel discussion at 8 pm.

Registration is free and open to the public at https://inthisheaven.eventbrite.ca.


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Media: For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media Relations Officer, at (807) 343-8177, or mediarelations@lakeheadu.ca.



In 2015, Lakehead University will celebrate 50 years of exceptional education. Guided by its Strategic Plan (2013-2018), Lakehead is known for providing an education focused on independent thinking, unconventional scholarship, and a close sense of community. About 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff learn and work in ten faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies.


Maclean’s 2015 University Rankings places Lakehead University 2nd in Ontario and among Canada’s Top 10 undergraduate universities, and 1st among Ontario’s undergraduate universities for Total Research Dollars, Social Sciences & Humanities Grants, and Library Expenses. In 2014, Re$earch Infosource ranked Lakehead 2nd in Ontario and 3rd among Canada’s undergraduate universities.


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