In northwest Arkansas there is a tunnel that runs straight through a mountain in the Ozarks. When you approach the tunnel going 60 mph, you can hear the wind rushing past the car. You hear the tires spinning and creating traction on the road below you. The radio signal isn’t very good in this area, so it is an obnoxious mixture of broken up country music and static. When you enter the tunnel, all of this suddenly changes. The orange fluorescent lights are dim. There is no wind rushing by. The radio completely cuts out and everything seems dark, still, and calm. This is how I felt the first time I tried heroin.
I grew up in a cookie-cutter neighborhood where all of the brick houses look the same. The Home Owners Association requires that each house have one tree on each side of the sidewalk approaching the homes. Your lawn must be kept clean and cut. The happy children laugh and play with their neighbors. Everything seems perfect. My family was wealthy and successful. The families I lived around were happy and wealthy as well. This misconstrued idea that my life had to be perfect put so much pressure on me as a child that I never felt like I was good enough.
When I found prescription pain killers at the innocent age of 14, I found a desirable escape from the pressures I felt to be perfect. Many people speak of the time where they had abused drugs enough to where they crossed the line from being a drug user to a drug addict. I, on the other hand, believe that I was a drug addict from the moment I felt the calming effects of my first pill. It seemed like the answer to all the feelings of inadequacy that had seemed to consume my life for so many years. Drugs immediately became a necessity.
When I was 17 my family and I moved to a small town. There was no longer a Home Owners Association or cookie cutter houses that all look the same, but I hadn’t changed one bit. Moving to a rural area gave me the opportunity to do my drugs in peace without anybody finding out that I was mentally and spiritually consumed by opiates. Prescription drugs had become too weak to produce the effects that I chased, so I sought out what would be my first true love and my ultimate downfall – heroin.
It wasn’t long before I could no longer get out of bed before sticking a needle in my arm. I lost my full-ride academic scholarship to college because drugs were insanely more important than going to class. I couldn’t maintain a job because I was manipulative and untrustworthy. I stole money here and there from every cash register that I stood behind. It was impossible to live in one place for more than a month at a time, because I quickly exhausted my resources and friendships as my addiction became far too obvious to hide.
I finally reached a point where I was broke and homeless. I entered into a dark depression and I wanted more than anything to overdose and never wake up. The last time I got high, I loaded up my syringe and promised myself that if it wasn’t enough to kill me, I would get help. When I woke up, I was angry. I truly saw no way out of the steel chains that bound me to heroin, but I felt as though I had no choice but to get help.
I spent three long months in an inpatient rehab facility where I was given therapy for both my opiate addiction and my depression. Treatment was great for what it is for – it provided me with the separation I needed from drugs and a safe place to lay my head at night, but my life didn’t start to turn around until I was released from treatment back into the real world, this time, with no substances in my body to make me feel okay.
I was introduced to a group of women who are profoundly important in my life today. They taught me how to live sober. I began to rely on them for everything, whether it was emotional support because I was a train wreck, or rides to work because I crashed every car I ever drove while getting high. These women introduced me to activities like yoga, meditation, and local music events with up and coming artists. They taught me how to have fun in sobriety and how to feel comfortable in my own skin for the very first time. Due to their unconditional love and support for me, I have been able to stay sober ever since.
I have a job where I get to spread awareness around the disease of addiction. I have a home where my bills get paid on time and I don’t have to worry about money. My family trusts me today. My mother never has to lay awake in the middle of the night in fear that the phone will ring and her daughter will be dead. I have dreams of going back to school and being the successful person that I always wanted to be.
Today, I live a life that is beautiful. I get to help other women recover from addiction which is the bright spot of my life. There is nothing more fulfilling than watching a woman, who is as hopeless as I once was, have the light turn back on in her eyes. I get to watch people recover and come back from the dead. I have a purpose today. My purpose is to share my experience, strength, and hope with others in the hopes that one less person has to die from heroin addiction.
Councillor Locke’s Notice of Motion Supported by Local Aboriginal Leaders
SURREY: On January 27, 2020, Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke put forth a Notice of Motion outlining the lack of consultation with First Nations in the proposed police transition.
The Semiahmoo and Katzie First Nations advise that there has been no real consultation with them regarding any possible transition to a Surrey Police Force by the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia or the City of Surrey.
Locke said: “It is unconscionable that in 2020, after all work that has been done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), that the City of Surrey would overlook the Coast Salish people, the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen, Qayqayt and Tsawwassen First Nations.
The Semiahmoo and Katzie lands are policed by the Surrey RCMP and the Semiahmoo and Kwantlen FN have a tri-partied agreement with them.” In the prepared police transition plan, no specific consideration was given to how the policing relationship would progress with Surrey’s First Nations. This should have been of significant concern as not only does the Surrey RCMP police two FN lands, Surrey is also home to the largest urban indigenous community in British Columbia.
Locke’s notice of motion resolves that the process by the Federal and Provincial government and the City of Surrey to transition from the RCMP to a Surrey Police Force immediately stop until a proper, respectful and transparent process that includes the Coast Salish Peoples and the Surrey urban indigenous peoples takes place.
The motion will be debated at the next Council meeting on February 10
Local summit aims to make Surrey a better city for women and girls
SURREY, BC – Women in Surrey are invited to share their perspectives and experiences at Women Shaping Surrey: Towards a Women-Friendly City, a summit co-hosted by Women Transforming Cities and the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women in partnership with the Shakti Society.
The summit will provide an opportunity for women in Surrey to discuss how they can most effectively work together to amplify the diverse voices of women and girls, and to ensure that a gendered perspective is applied to all city policies, programs, and activities.
In 2017, Status of Women Canada (now Women and Gender Equality) funded the study,”Action on systemic barriers to women’s participation in local government” which has focused on the cities of Surrey and Vancouver. The project aimed to find recommendations that would increase representation of diverse women in all aspects of civic life: as elected officials, staff, members of advisory bodies, and engaged citizens.
Among the project’s findings was the importance of women’s advisory bodies in providing insights on how different municipal policies impact women and girls, including public safety, accessibility, housing, childcare, and more.
The summit will feature Jinny Sims, the MLA for Surrey-Panorama and former Minister of Citizens’ Services, as the keynote speaker. Previously, Sims served as the MP for Newton-North Delta, and as the critic for International Cooperation, Critic for Immigration and Critic for Employment.
“In April 2018, our project sponsored a forum in Surrey that brought together women who had run for office to discuss their experiences as candidates and as elected officials,” said Rebecca Bateman, project manager. “We learned not only about the barriers and opportunities they encountered, but also about the strong network of women in Surrey who mentored and supported them, and the upcoming summit is a way of building on that strength to address city-wide issues that matter to women.”
Community Kitchen program helps newcomers bond over food
DIVERSEcity’s Community Kitchen coordinator Leo Ramirez shares how the program helps newcomers and low-income residents overcome food insecurity and connect to their community
Sony and his mother, Shahnaj, who arrived in Surrey only two months ago from Bangladesh, have consistently attended DIVERSEcity’s Community Kitchen on a weekly basis. “I bring my mother here because it is a great place for her to learn healthy Canadian cooking, good for her English and meet lots of different people here,” says Sony.
DIVERSEcity’s Community Kitchens, held at different locations around Surrey including DIVERSEcity Community Campus in Surrey, BC, are part of the non-profit organization’s food security program.
Fiona Stevenson, manager, Volunteer & Community Programs, at DIVERSEcity, oversees the program that includes the community kitchens and community gardens for new immigrants and refugees and low-income Surrey residents. “The cultural, linguistic, systemic, income and resource-related barriers that new immigrant and refugees are confronted with when immigrating to Canada can make them especially vulnerable to food insecurity,” says Fiona.
Sony adds that finding ingredients from their homeland can be expensive. “The Community Kitchen helps us find healthy, cheaper food and teaches us how to cook them.”
Food security concerns in BC
However, it is not just newcomers who are likely affected by food insecurity. A co-produced report by researchers from the University of Toronto and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) found that one out of every 10 households (11.8 per cent), about half a million people, in British Columbia could be considered food insecure.
The BCCDC report, which defines food insecurity as the lack of the financial means to buy healthy, safe, personally acceptable food, also highlights that households with children have higher rates of food insecurity compared to those without. It found that one in six (15.6 per cent) BC children under the age of 18 lived in households experiencing some level of food insecurity.
“When it comes to food insecurity, income is the biggest systemic barrier,” explains Fiona.
Leo Ramirez, DIVERSEcity’s Community Kitchen coordinator, echoes this statement. “The main issue with people becoming food insecure is income. If you are a family with limited income it is really important to find ways to save money,” says Leo.
New country, new food
Leo, who himself immigrated to Canada from El-Salvador, knows well the financial and settlement challenges of adapting to a new country, culture, language and way of living.
“I really enjoy working and helping newcomers and people of all backgrounds. It reminds me of myself when I came to Canada 30 years ago and had to learn to adapt to a new country,” says Leo.
“Probably the countries where they came from have different food items than what we have here,” he adds. “We teach them the Canadian food guidelines. Also, how to read product labels, some tips for when they go to the supermarket, how to follow recipes and how to measure ingredients.”
“The kitchen is a very welcoming place,” says Peter, a senior from the Chinese community, who has been a participant of DIVERSEcity’s Community Kitchen programs for more than four years. He says he started coming to the kitchen to meet new people and cook different kinds of food.
DIVERSEcity’s Community Kitchen program provides a place for refugees, immigrants, seniors, parents of young children and low-income Surrey residents to not only connect to the community, but also to get acquainted with healthy Canadian food and ways of cooking.
This winter, two six-session sets of community kitchens are running on Monday afternoons starting February 10 at Newton Seniors Centre , and on Tuesday afternoons starting February 11 at the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre in Surrey, BC. Learn more at dcrs.ca/food.
7 Tips for Getting Sleep with Back Pain
If you have lower back pain, getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge. Falling asleep and staying asleep is not so simple when your lower back is aching, throbbing, or tingling. While there’s no single cause of back pain, there are ways you can help yourself get better sleep despite it.
- First, talk to your doctor
The reasons for lower back pain are many, and the treatment for the source of your pain may be different than the next, so a conversation with a doctor you trust is the best place to start. They can help you identify the source of your back pain and treat the cause rather than just the symptoms.
- Take a look at your sleeping surface
Ask yourself: Are you going to bed with back pain that make it difficult for you to sleep or is your lack of sleep making you wake up with back pain?Is the pain acute (a new pain that isn’t there all the time) or chronic (long-term, ongoing)?
What you’re sleeping on may have a lot to do with the cause of your lower back pain. You might have a mattress that does not keep your spine in alignment, which, for many, is a source of lower back pain. A medium-firm mattress (rather than one that is very soft or very firm) can help keep your spine aligned during the night and may help alleviate back pain.
You can check out some of the reviews on Mattress-Guides to find a mattress suited to your own circumstances
- Consider your sleeping position
There’s no “right” sleeping position, and it’s difficult to change your natural sleep position, but if you’re sleeping on your back or your stomach, this may mean that your spine stays curved all night and is not aligned. For some, this can be the source of back pain. Try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees, which may help you stay on your side longer.
- Check for sleep disturbances
As if back pain doesn’t make it hard enough to sleep, you want to consider anything else that may be disturbing getting a good night’s rest. For example, if you have a noisy fan or loud HVAC system, consider calling a repairman to make some changes.
- Limit your time in bed to 8 hours
Staying in bed too long can actually make your pain worse. If you are one to lay in bed for a few hours after waking up, try to change up your routine by getting up and stretching. This daily habit can help with your pain and hopefully encourage a new, healthy habit into your day.
- Meditate before sleeping
If you’re in pain while sleeping, you’ll want to do everything you can to help you get to sleep. Simply downloading a meditation app on your phone and listening to a guided meditation for good sleep may get your mind off of the back pain and help you get to sleep faster.
- Avoid electronics before sleeping
A simple trick to try getting to sleep faster is to avoid using electronics for an hour before you go to sleep. Simple plug your phone in on the other side of the room. If you have trouble sleeping, pick up a book and read until your eyes start to shut.
Local Non Profit ‘Music Lottery’ Takes Big Step Towards Lifting Up Music Venues and Musicians
Music Lottery, a bi-weekly raffle program for music fans in British Columbia, has launched their redesigned website with a subscription offer to make ticket ordering easy for customers – http://musiclottery.ca
The new website expands on the Music Lottery program, a bi-weekly Province wide 50/50 raffle, where a single winner takes half of the jackpot and the rest of the proceeds supports live music programming in underserved communities. Previously sold through a handful of performance venues, raffle tickets are now also available for order through musiclottery.ca
Features of the new site, which is fully responsive and optimised to be mobile-friendly, include a “50/50 Club” subscription offer for easy participation in every draw, multiple modes of participation for venue operators, promoters, festival organizers and other groups that use music as a way to engage community in a meaningful way, and news about upcoming events supported by Music Lottery.
The new Music Lottery site offers up a novel, yet evolutionary program that will assist in the future of music funding across the province. With jackpots upwards of $2,000 every two weeks and growing, this expansion gives music fans across BC the chance to win and presents a new way to defend and invigorate the music scene in our province, and their local communities.
“It was surprising and exciting to win the draw, and the fact that the proceeds support live music makes me feel really good about buying my tickets.” – Michael Lee, Winner of the August 30th, 2019 draw
As well as making the raffle winners very happy with cash prizes, Music Lottery has generated close to $17,000 in grants to benefit community venues and artists in BC this year. The goal is to significantly increase that number by using the new website to make participating in the raffle easy, reduce operational costs and put more money into the pockets of artists and support workers who help us all hear new music.
For more information visit http://www.musiclottery.ca/ or call 604-817-1526
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