The Opaskwayak Health Authority (OHA) provides a wide range of health services that serve the citizens of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba. Its mission is as follows:

"Opaskwayak Health Authority will pursue the development of community wellness, healing and health services and programs incorporating mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being while maintaining and respecting traditional/cultural values and beliefs."

Specific health services provided by OHA include: Health Education programs, mental health services, chronic disease, school health, environmental health, and a treatment room. From these various health initiatives, the Mental Wellness Coordinator took on the responsibility of organizing a strategy to address prescription drug abuse. This individual established an Ad Hoc Committee that included many different partners such as the Keewatin Tribal Council, Cree Nation Tribal Health Centre, mental wellness and addictions professionals, and various other northern health agencies.


The Ad Hoc Committee held many discussions and it became imperative to determine why this Committee was brought together. Where did we want to see everything move towards? A vision was required and here is what was developed as the desired end result of what they wanted to see in First Nation communities:

Educated, safe, and empowered First Nation communities - free from the misuse of prescription drugs!


How this vision could be achieved was not exactly clear and thus a mission statement was developed to describe this, as follows:

"Proactively responding to Prescription Drug Abuse (PDA) Crises through the provision of leadership and support, education and awareness, reducing risk and harm, and building capacity while honouring the culture and traditions of each First Nation community!"

From this collective of a small group of committed individuals, a smaller OHA Website Working Group was formed and is responsible to guide the development of this website.


To help guide our development process, a model was created that signified how a northern response to PDA could possibly unfold. At the outer circle, the four directions which recognize our spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical natures encompasses all that we do. At the centre of our model is the person or the individual affected by PDA. From there, we look outward to family, community, tribal ties and organizations that support us, and finally the OCN's Wellness Team. All of these supports are geared to doing four main things:

  1. Meeting the needs of the people
  2. Providing information and resources
  3. Increasing knowledge through education and awareness
  4. Building skills and community

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