By Rick Garrick
THUNDER BAY – Rockin ‘Recovery 2021 featured local addiction recovery stories, comedy by Janine Desmoulin of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and music by V3nom and Barn Swallow via the Zoom virtual platform on September 22.
“My recovery journey required me to pick up some things, a lady arranged them for me – there were four sacred medicines on the ground: tobacco, semma, sage, cedar and sweetgrass,” Desmoulin says, noting that she began her recovery many years ago at a women’s treatment center in Sudbury. “She said, ‘Take these drugs.’ I had to have the green light and I am giving you the green light today to pick up whatever medicine you need, be it walking, running, talking, making people laugh. It’s what you do, you take the medicine that is close to your heart, be it your ceremony, the things you need, your drum. Everything you need, you get it.
Desmoulin says it’s important for people to focus on stories on their recovery journey that make them feel good.
“We find these good stories, we find these things that really make us feel good,” Desmoulin says. “And we laugh at what doesn’t work, we laugh at it, we look it in the face and we [laugh], however you laugh.
Desmoulin says she always puts down her semma before doing one of her comedies.
“And I ask what I’m going to say up there because I’m not coming here scripted,” Desmoulin says. “That’s why I’m a storyteller.”
Thunder Bay Drug Strategy coordinator Cynthia Olsen said the six people who shared local recovery stories were the “real headliners” of Rockin ‘Recovery 2021, noting that millions of Canadians are living in recovery.
“The substance use issues are often the ones that make a big splash, but it’s the recovery that is really amazing,” says Olsen. “The goal of Rockin ‘Recovery is to engage with our community, provide education, raise awareness and help reduce the stigma surrounding addiction. This is our eighth annual Thunder Bay Recovery Day and the second time we’ve gone virtual.
Thunder Bay Councilor Rebecca Johnson, President of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, said recovery is not a nine-to-five job, a 30-day rehabilitation, an hour-long meeting or a therapy session .
“Recovery is a way of life,” says Johnson. “Recovery did not choose you, you chose recovery and that makes you a special and strong human being. With every step you take, keep your head up.
Thunder Bay Mayor Bill Mauro said Thunder Bay joined other cities across the country in celebrating the recovery.
“Each community has a unique approach, but we are united in our message of hope,” says Mauro. “Recovery Day is important because we have thousands of community members living in recovery every day, and today it’s about giving some of these individuals a place to share and celebrate their journeys. We hope the personal stories you hear tonight reduce the stigma and stereotypes that often prevent people from getting help. Making sure our community members are the face and voice of recovery is about giving hope to those who still suffer, to say, “I did this and so do you. The recovery movement also aims to build a compassionate community and bring the community together to celebrate, show support, and non-stigmatize. “
Rockin ‘Recovery 2021 video posted online to the Thunder Bay Drug Awareness Committee Facebook page.