A united front: CEDAR group strives for community wellbeing

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

Tulalip − The CEDAR group meeting September 5th took an interesting turn as strong emotions flowed during a spontaneous open forum. The scheduled presenters had to cancel at the last minute, leaving Thursday’s meeting without an agenda. Reading off facts about youth drug use and how people can help themselves or their kids sparked a discussion on the various situations Tulalip families and addicts find themselves in and how these situations can be handled.

Gina Skinner, who works with the suboxin program, said, “You don’t have to be an addict to seek help. You as the parent, as the family, can come and seek counsel.”

Jim Hillaire spoke, saying, “I wish that more people would engage more with what we [Family Services] have to offer. It’s not that we don’t do enough, or can’t do enough; it’s that they [the families of addicts] don’t want to be there.

“Its not up to the board of directors to fix this,” he continued, “it’s up to all of us.”

That’s what CEDAR is about. Community Engaged and Dedicated to Addiction Recovery.

“The CEDAR program is intended to develop community volunteer involvement,” said Lisa Kibbie, one of the group’s coordinators.

The stigma attached to addiction is so condemning and poisonous that addicts don’t want to face their families, or can’t face their families. A 15 year old, who shall remain anonymous, stated that even after being clean and sober for 5 months now, all people first see in them is addiction and failure.

“Shame and guilt was never part of our culture,” responded Hillaire.

The mission of the CEDAR group is to promote a healthy and culturally vibrant community. Hillaire pointed to culture many times during the meeting, speaking to where we’ve drifted in recent years and where solutions can be found. By continuing to bring cultural teachings and values forward Tulalip can stand together as a community and uplift its people.

“We have to develop a culture within the community that won’t enable [tolerate or facilitate] those that choose to leave their home and family,” Skinner said.

The group consensus is that change is necessary in the community. That may mean creating boundaries to alleviate the enabling that takes place in our community. That also means that we all must be willing to put in the hard work, making hard decisions, holding to them, while still letting people know they are welcome, and that their wellbeing is important to others.

At the end of the meeting, volunteers could list themselves as a contact for community outreach and crisis assistance, a first step in getting the community involved.

The CEDAR group meets every other Thursday, 5pm-7pm at the Tulalip Administration building, room 162.