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Wabanaki Nation previews project to tackle opioid epidemic

Wabanaki Public Health is set to open the Gathering Place.
Wabanaki Public Health is set to open the Gathering Place.(Owen Kingsley)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 4:09 PM EDT
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MILLINOCKET, Maine (WABI) - The Wabanaki Nation held its first ever summit among their four tribes in Millinocket Wednesday.

They unveiled a years long project they hope makes an impact on the opioid epidemic called the Gathering Place.

“Each of the tribal chiefs have been involved in creating the center for Wabanaki Healing and Recovery,” said Lisa Sockabasin, Director of Wabanaki Public Health.

They plan to combine traditional western medicine with tribal healing methods.

Wednesday’s summit showed members of the Wabanaki Nation the fruits of their labor.

“I’m a registered nurse and this is just amazing. With the opioid epidemic and the issues with behavioral health, and those things have been magnified by COVID-19. So I think that taking any longer to do this really would be detrimental to our communities,” said Clarissa Sabattis, Tribal Chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseets.

In 2010, tribal leaders came up with the idea.

With the support of the federal government, this site is set to become a reality.

“We don’t typically get the opportunity to actually roll up our sleeves and work on something. After meeting the tribal chiefs and the Wabanaki group I wanted to really be a part of this,” said Paul Jacobsen, Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in New England.

The center is set to open officially in the fall.

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