Drug Strat­egy Action Com­mit­tee presents awards at recog­ni­tion lun­cheon

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - News - By Matthew Lieben­berg mlieben­[email protected]­t.com

The ef­forts of in­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions to help lo­cal youth make pos­i­tive lifestyle choices were high­lighted dur­ing a recog­ni­tion lun­cheon in Swift Cur­rent.

The event was hosted by the Drug Strat­egy Action Com­mit­tee (DSAC) in the Bridge­way Com­mu­nity Church gym­na­sium, May 30.

DSAC Chair­per­son Patti Dekowny felt the lun­cheon ful­fills an im­por­tant func­tion as part of the organizati­on’s an­nual ac­tiv­i­ties.

“There are a lot of peo­ple in this com­mu­nity who are help­ing youth, help­ing fam­i­lies, help­ing other peo­ple work to­wards a lifestyle that’s not con­trolled or abused by al­co­hol and drugs,” she said af­ter the event.

“So we re­ally want to rec­og­nize the pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions that are hap­pen­ing. Peo­ple of­ten are do­ing these things and no one is aware of it, and so they are just the silent heroes. We re­ally just want to rec­og­nize them for all they’re con­tribut­ing to our com­mu­nity and the pos­i­tive im­pact they’re hav­ing.”

Lo­cal res­i­dent Lanna Koeth­ler was the guest speaker at the event. She pro­vided a per­spec­tive on the drug cul­ture that ex­ists in the city by shar­ing her per­sonal story of drug use. She spent some time in jail be­fore turn­ing her life around, and she has be­gun to talk to young peo­ple about her ex­pe­ri­ences to make them aware of the re­al­i­ties of ad­dic­tion and to en­cour­age them to avoid that de­struc­tive patch.

“She was very pow­er­ful,” Dekowny said. “I think it’s good, be­cause her story started in Swift Cur­rent and all the things she dis­cussed all hap­pened in Swift Cur­rent. It was a pow­er­ful story for all of us to hear that things can go wrong in Swift Cur­rent. Peo­ple can get caught up in the drug in­dus­try and go to jail and just all those things that we some­times don’t re­al­ize hap­pen when peo­ple are us­ing drugs.”

The goal of the DSAC is to pre­vent and elim­i­nate sub­stance abuse in the com­mu­nity through a fo­cus on preven­tion, treat­ment, harm reduction and com­mu­nity jus­tice.

“I think there still is a lit­tle bit of hes­i­tancy for peo­ple to un­der­stand that there is a sig­nif­i­cant drug prob­lem in Swift Cur­rent, and that it’s not just hap­pen­ing in Regina, Saska­toon, Van­cou­ver, or Toronto,” she said. “Peo­ple have drug problems here in Swift Cur­rent as well. Drugs are be­ing sold and I think that’s what’s high­lighted in the work the RCMP are do­ing. They’ve made sig­nif­i­cant drug busts over the past cou­ple years and they’ve re­ally put an em­pha­sis on re­duc­ing crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity re­lated to drugs.”

The recre­ational use of cannabis be­came le­gal in Canada in Oc­to­ber 2018, and the DSAC has pro­vided in­for­ma­tion to try to an­swer peo­ple’s questions.

“A lot of com­mu­nity mem­bers are ask­ing a lot of questions about the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis,” she said. “There are some in­for­ma­tion pack­ages, for ex­am­ple the Cana­dian Cen­tre for Sub­stance Abuse has guidelines for smok­ing cannabis. So we’ve just been try­ing to pro­vide some ed­u­ca­tion.”

A high­light for the DSAC dur­ing the past year was to host pre­sen­ta­tions by well-known me­dia per­son­al­ity and broad­caster Rod Ped­er­sen.

“He spoke at a com­mu­nity event and to the high school stu­dents,” Dekowny said.

“I think his story was very pow­er­ful in that he is a me­dia per­son on the ra­dio, had dreams, and he shared a re­ally can­did story about al­co­hol abuse. I think we for­get that al­co­hol is still the num­ber one sub­stance that is abused and that causes a lot of dif­fi­cul­ties, and so he re­ally high­lighted al­co­hol abuse,” added Dekowny.

The DSAC will wel­come volunteers who want to as­sist with the organizati­on’s ac­tiv­i­ties. She en­cour­aged res­i­dents to visit their Face­book page, where in­for­ma­tion is pro­vided about up­com­ing events and where ar­ti­cles are posted to cre­ate aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion about is­sues.

Awards were presented in six dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories at the DSAC recog­ni­tion lun­cheon. Dan Nickol re­ceived the youth ad­vo­cate award for his con­tri­bu­tion in Swift Cur­rent since 1997 to help youth in need.

He was a youth pas­tor at Vic­tory Fam­ily Church for 12 years, and he has been a coun­sel­lor and men­tor to many teens and young adults. He founded Revo­lu­tion Min­istries, which was a down­town youth outreach pro­gram in the city be­fore the es­tab­lish­ment of The Cen­ter. He has been a youth teen speaker at West Bank Bi­ble Camp for over a decade, and he has also helped youth in other coun­tries through his in­volve­ment with or­ga­ni­za­tions in Kenya, Rwanda, and Mex­ico.

Averey Janzen was the re­cip­i­ent of the youth re­siliency award. She was nom­i­nated by the staff at The Cen­ter for work­ing through many fam­ily strug­gles while main­tain­ing a pos­i­tive fo­cus on aca­demics, ath­let­ics, and cit­i­zen­ship. She cur­rently lives in­de­pen­dently while at­tend­ing high school, work­ing part time, and com­plet­ing a work ex­pe­ri­ence pro­gram. She works with inner city chil­dren and youth at the Sal­va­tion Army’s Beaver Creek Camp dur­ing her sum­mers.

Lieut. Jeff Giesbrecht, the com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of #259 Royal Cana­dian Sea Cadet Corps Dry­lan­der, re­ceived the youth en­gage­ment award. He was a sea cadet from 1984 to 1997, and then joined the Cana­dian Forces Re­serves in 1999 to be­come a cadet in­struc­tor. He has men­tored many youth in the sea cadets dur­ing the past 20 years and his in­flu­ence has helped them to make pos­i­tive life choices.

Mav­er­ick School stu­dent Ay­den Eck­ert was the re­cip­i­ent of the youth award. He is very in­volved in his school and com­mu­nity, and he has em­braced the ben­e­fits of clean liv­ing. He is a long-time mem­ber of the sea cadets, an ac­tive mem­ber of the Mav­er­ick School Out­door Ed­u­ca­tion Club, and frontman for the rock band Ay­den Eck­ert and the Time Trav­ellers.

McKenna Har­lick, who is in her grad­u­at­ing year at Mav­er­ick School, was the re­cip­i­ent of the healthy liv­ing award. She has over­come ad­ver­sity, and she has be­come con­fi­dent in her­self and in her choices to fol­low a clean and healthy lifestyle.

The RCMP de­tach­ment in Swift Cur­rent was presented with the com­mu­nity leadership award for its commitment to crime reduction through drug en­force­ment.

The de­tach­ment has launched in­ves­ti­ga­tions into drugs and weapons that have made their way into the com­mu­nity, and of­fi­cers have ex­e­cuted 23 search war­rants since 2016 that re­sulted in dozens of ar­rests.

Averey Janzen (at left) re­ceives the youth re­siliency award from DSAC Chair­per­son Patti Dekowny.

Pho­tos by Matthew Lieben­berg

RCMP Const. Tony Curti presents a gift of ap­pre­ci­a­tion to guest speaker Lanna Koeth­ler. Stand­ing at left is em­cee Chris Martens.

DSAC award re­cip­i­ents at the recog­ni­tion lun­cheon, May 30. From left to right, Sgt. Kelly Guider (rep­re­sent­ing Swift Cur­rent RCMP de­tach­ment), Averey Janzen, Lieut. Jeff Giesbrecht, and Dan Nickol. Miss­ing, Ay­den Eck­ert and McKenna Har­lick.

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