For the 16th year in a row, the Quesnel Tillicum Society gathered a group of community members to walk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) awareness Monday (Sept. 9).
Participants gathered at St. John the Divine Anglican Church for the ringing of the bells at 9:09 a.m., a time chosen to signify the nine months of pregnancy.
“Quesnel is on the map internationally for giving awareness to FASD,” Charlene Vankoughnett, the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Effects Co-ordinator with the Quesnel Tillicum Society, told the group before the walk. “Wow, this is awesome. Thank you everybody for coming.”
This year, participants donned red ball caps with “FASD 2019” embroidered on the front and walked to the Native Friendship Centre, where they had a pancake breakfast and entertainment from hoop dancers, drummers and musicians and watched a short video.
At the Native Friendship Centre, Perry Alexander and his wife, Sheila Gilpin, shared the Women’s Warrior Song and the Men’s Warrior Song before the pancake breakfast, and Monica Paul offered a prayer.
Vankoughnett invited people who work in the community to indirectly or directly provide services to those affected by FASD to speak and share what they do.
The Tillicum Society has an FASD Awareness Committee, and Vankoughnett says anyone can join. She hopes people will participate and share any ideas they have for helping people in the community.
“We are a small town, and I think if we all get together, we can make change,” she said. “If we don’t support those who need that support, they can fall through the gaps and fall into areas we don’t want to see.”
The committee holds monthly meetings and tries to create awareness in the community, and they host the annual FASD poster contest for the school district.