MACSI celebrates 50 years of helping people lead healthy lives
- Angela Hill | February 10, 2019
Giant trees are painted on the back wall at the Métis Addictions Council of Saskatchewan (MACSI) treatment centre in Saskatoon.
On the leaves are pieces of art with the names of clients who have passed through the doors over the past 50 years.
“They leave a little part of them to expand the tree,” said Cecile McKay, MACSI regional director of Saskatoon centre. “They leave something with MACSI because they got so much from us, they say they want to leave something for us.”
Throughout 2019, MACSI is celebrating their 50th anniversary with events and open houses throughout the province.
A lot has changed over the past five decades. When MACSI started it was only alcohol addiction they were addressing, said executive director Raymond Laliberte, but now they work with people who have addictions to drugs like crack, opioids, and crystal meth.
“Using alcohol plus all those other new addictions and that’s the challenges the clients have been telling us, and those are areas of growth for us.”
For Larissa Moosomin it was after losing her children to child and family services and being introduced to crystal meth that she realized she needed help.
“I lost myself and lost who I was as a person and the MACSI program has helped me rediscover myself, who I am, and where I want to go,” said Moosomin. “If it wasn’t for the program, I would probably still be in my addiction.”
She started the program about five years ago, and appreciates that she still has contact when she needs it. MACSI runs a 28-day residential program, a drop-in program, and a day-to-day program as well as arranging for after care, said McKay.
Moosomin restarted daily programming with the birth of her baby girl late last year.
“Staying sober for my baby is one of the biggest battles. I’ve been battling every single day.”
To qualify for services from MACSI all that is required is a Saskatchewan health card and the desire to change an addictive lifestyle, Laliberte said.
“MACSI is proud to have delivered services to all off-reserve Indigenous peoples for 50 years, Métis and First Nations, since we began,” he said.
He added that one of the hardest things for people to do is deal with the stigma of beginning to heal. Amil Bird knew he wanted to get help, but the people he was using drugs with would call him a quitter.
“I needed to be a quitter from drugs and alcohol, and that life I was leading,” Bird said. “I was living in a church, sleeping on chairs, living off welfare and I just wanted more out of life then what I had.”
He detoxed and got into the MACSI 28-day program in 2017. He still attends the daily program when he needs it. Bird said the people work at MACSI have helped him see a better life.
“People who are willing to do this who actually enjoy life, you can see the smile, you can see the happiness in people’s eyes and how they express themselves through everyday living,” Bird said. “I am a lot better. I’m a lot more human. I’m a lot more alive, and happy.”
Bird said he is working on getting his life to a place where he can support his daughter.
“I just want to thank all the workers, who have worked here or continue to work here, they are basically the reason why all this is happening and working out,” he said.
When Moosomin hears that MACSI programs have been around for 50 years, she is happy.
“That’s amazing, it makes me so thankful for the people who first funded this program because without this program a lot of us, you know, our group gets big in the day program,” she said.
MACSI is holding an open house in Regina on Feb. 28, in Prince Albert on Mar. 14 and one in Saskatoon on Apr. 11.