In his inaugural blog post, From the Ground Up, Cst. Derek Chesney unknowingly foreshadowed this post when he said that, “Saskatoon is a far cry from Vancouver’s East Hastings but we are not immune to many of the issues that plague the area… The Saskatoon that I experience can be one of mental illness, drug and alcohol addictions, prostitution and poverty.”
While Cst. Chesney sees the aftermath of what alcoholism and drug addictions can do to a person’s life, the Saskatoon Integrated Drug Unit (SIDU), took a proactive approach to reach an impressionable audience, kids in grades 6-8 in Saskatoon.
SIDU is responsible for drug enforcement and investigations, but like many issues, educating and informing people about the dangers of drug abuse is a preemptive approach to helping people before it’s too late and addictions too strong.
In 2004, SIDU partnered with The Western Hockey League, RCMP “F” Division and the Vancouver Police Department to create “Project Faceoff”. This program spans Western Canada, partnering the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) with various police agencies and their local WHL Club. Project Faceoff aims to promote drug prevention and education by using role models of The WHL.
As part of their participation, four Saskatoon Blades players were taken on a two-day tour of Vancouver, B.C. to witness the first-hand effect that drug and alcohol addictions can have on a person’s life. On the trip, players were accompanied by members of SIDU and the VPD in Vancouver’s East Hastings area.
Following their trip, Blades’ players Duncan Siemens, Matthew Pufahl, Brenden Walker and Dalton Thrower joined SIDU in speaking to 21 schools in the Saskatoon area, reaching 2,740 kids in grades 6, 7 and 8. They spoke about the dangers of living a high-risk lifestyle, what they saw and stories they heard from the people living on the streets and in the run-down apartments of East Hastings.
At the Blades game on Feb. 22 vs. the Brandon Wheat Kings, a Constable with SPS and the RCMP presented each of the four participating players with a certificate of appreciation for their commitment to the community and support of the program.
(Photo credit: Steve Hiscock)