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Totem Hall Revival celebrates recovery

First Nations group helps heal drug and alcohol addiction

The Totem Talk Circle is changing life among Squamish Nation members as it brings healing and recovery to the community.

Based on the principles of alcoholic anonymous and ancient tradition, the Talk Circle provides a way out of addiction. Dale Shaw, Squamish Nation addictions counsellor, said the Talk Circle has led so many to recovery that it is time to celebrate.

The Squamish Nation is hosting the Totem Talk Circle Inaugural Recovery Revival at Totem Hall, Saturday (April 25) from 9 a.m. to midnight. The goal is to celebrate recovery as a community.

The event is an all day celebration with drumming, dancing, singing, and Indian Tacos for lunch. Shaw said the day also includes guest speakers and musician John Boom Toman. The event also features a dance from 9 p.m. to midnight.

"The revival is a community celebration for community members in recovery. We are celebrating the fact that we do recover," Shaw said.

Every Wednesday night since last summer, the talk circle has become a place of healing. It isn't your typical AA meeting with doughnuts and coffee. In a First Nations talk circle, a stick or needle feather is passed around and only the person holding the stick can speak. Shaw said this causes the pace to slow down.

"The talking circle is a very sacred place for First Nations and a good place to start recovery. There are so many people out there suffering," Shaw said.

By delving into ancient traditions, Shaw said the talking circle has more power. He said the road to recovery is often paved with culture.

"In my experience reconnecting with culture leads to healing. The roots of recovery rest with culture. When you get off that path, you fall into the traps of drug and alcohol addiction," Shaw said.

Throughout Canada, Shaw said many native treatment centres encourage patients to get back into their rich culture. He said many adults are recovering but youth are a little more challenging to reach.

"When you turn on the television, there is so much stuff that glorifies violence and drugs like gangster videos and things like that," Shaw said.

To reach out to youth, Shaw is getting more involved in local schools by hosting a series of workshops. He said the idea is to promote positive role models for First Nations kids.

At the workshops Shaw said the main concern among teens is drug and alcohol addiction.

"It makes me realize it is a big problem that effects many generations, which is one of many reasons to have this positive celebration," Shaw said.

The entire Squamish community is invited to come and celebrate. For more information, check out