Kottakinoona Awaahkapiiyaawa “Bringing the Spirits Home” – through Siksikaitsititapiiyssini: Blackfoot Ways of Knowing: A Framework for Reconnection

Taatsiikiipoyii, Charles Weasel Head – Kainai (Blood Tribe), Alberta

Chancellor of the University of Lethbridge, Board of Directors Blood Tribe Department of Health Inc. 

April 13th 2022 Hyatt Regency Main Ballroom 10:00 am

Session Description

The Kainai Nation (Blood Tribe) has been under a State of Emergency since 2014 due to the emergence of the opioid crisis across Canada and throughout First Nations. The explosion of opioid related overdoses and death has put the Kainai in a seemingly perpetual state of grief and suffering since it’s been under siege from fentanyl, carfentanil and more recently, a deadly mixture of opioids and methamphetamines, not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic. This forced the tribe to lead the way in creating innovative prevention and harm reduction treatments to combat this deadly epidemic.

The Kainai (a Blackfoot Confederacy member nation) have suffered almost 200 deaths and a steep rise in crime and violence since fentanyl spread throughout the Blood Tribe and other First Nations. Utilizing Siksikaitsitapiiyssini (Blackfoot Ways of Knowing); Blood Tribe Department of Health Inc. Values; and principles handed down through the generations by Elders and ceremony, the Kainai developed Kottakinoona AwaahkapiiyaawaBringing the Spirits Home” – A Framework for Reconnection. The tribe has come a long way but still has much work to do, to stem the tide and develop long-term solutions and models of recovery and reconnection.

Presenter Charles Weasel Head will discuss the work being done with all levels of governments, health agencies, tribal government and health experts to continue to fight and take action to prevent further tragedy and to ensure safety and security for our children and families.

Learning Objectives

In partnership with government, Kainai has developed and established the Kottakinoona Awaahkapiiyaawa “Bringing the Spirits Home” Detox Centre on-reserve which has led to the development of a 75-bed therapeutic treatment facility in the Blood Tribe’s Levern community. Presenter Charles Weasel Head will explore and discuss the collaborative efforts to establish a Core Task Force Group and Coordinator that are actively involved in driving this battle with leadership against opioid addictions, harm reduction and treatment strategies, law enforcement efforts, staff to put strategies into action with doctors, health staff and law enforcement. We’ll learn about some solutions that include the prescribing of Suboxone, Naloxone kits to prevent death from overdose, gatherings and conferences, treatment programs and strategies to address socio-economic conditions, traditions and a holistic process to health and wellness. By implementing the Blood Tribe Addictions Framework, the people have hope and are committed to inviting the spirits of those living with addiction back in to the community and back to their spirit/person. We also acknowledge the spirits of those who have lost their lives to addiction in the past.

  • Increased awareness of the intersectionality of dire issues of housing, poverty, community violence and other social and health issues.
  • Identify the importance of cultural awareness, cultural identity, and culture-specific knowledge when implementing ROSC
  • Explore new and innovative partnerships

Charles Weaselhead BIO

Taatsiikiipoyii, former Blood Tribe Chief and Treaty 7 Grand Chief Charles (Charlie) Weaselhead Jr. was born on the Blood Indian Reserve in 1949.  Since the early 1980’s, Charles Weaselhead has worked hard to advance many health initiatives to improve the health care outcomes for the People, as Director of the treatment centres Napi Lodge and Poundmaker’s Lodge; Director of the Blood Indian Hospital in the early 90’s; and as Chief Executive Officer for the Blood Tribe Department of Health Inc. – a post he held until his successful election as Chief of the Blood Tribe and subsequent leadership from 2004-2016. Charles continues to maintain an interest in working with the University of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge College in advancing the lifelong education goals of our Indigenous members.

During Charles term as Blood Tribe Chief he was appointed as the Treaty 7 Grand Chief and held the Health and Education portfolio for the Treaty 7 Chiefs. Charles served on numerous Boards and Committees including the Aboriginal Healing Foundation Board of Directors, Committee Chairman for Community Violence Prevention on the Blood Reserve, the First Nations Information Governance Centre (Ottawa), the AFN’s Chiefs Committee on Health, the Alberta First Nation’s Information Governance Centre’s Chiefs Senate, the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and the Alberta Health Co-Management Committee.

Charles was a signatory to the Alberta Protocol Agreement on Government-to-Government Relations (2008) and the Memorandum of Understanding on First Nations Education (2010). His priorities include: implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; long term planning initiatives to address education, health, economic, social and environmental issues; soliciting community participation and support; looking ahead to advancing the sovereignty of First Nations by protecting our inherent and treaty rights; exploration of new and innovative partnerships; and to the dire issues of housing, poverty, community violence and other social and health issues.

Currently Charles is a member of the Blood Tribe Department of Health Inc. Board of Directors, Aboriginal Liaison Red Cross, and Indigenous Knowledge Wisdom Centre Board of Director in partnership with the Treaty 6, 7 and 8, Provincial and Federal Education Departments.

Charles Weaselhead was officially installed as Chancellor at the University’s Spring Convocation ceremony held on May 30, 2019, and hosted his annual Chancellor’s Dinner that same evening. The Chancellor’s Dinner is a prestigious event held during Spring Convocation every year. The purpose of this event is to honour the many award winners and honorary degree recipients.

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