Brad and Kevin Harrington made the rounds of local media and Mille Lacs Band communities this spring to invite Band members and the general public to a Sober Night Memoriam to honor the memory of those lives lost to the opioid epidemic and to celebrate those who survive.
The event was held at the District I Community Center May 16 and featured Indian tacos, traditional and contemporary music, and a heartfelt talk from Joe Nayquonabe Sr., who applauded the organizers and assured the audience that the Band is making progress in battling addiction.
The Red Road drum group kicked things off with a song, followed by Band member Max Blake, who played his Native flutes.
Young Tehya Nadeau shared two rap songs she had written, and the grandfather-grandson team of Brad and Kevin got things rocking with some heavy guitar riffs by the old guy and driving beats by the youngster.
Brad and Kevin said they were in awe of how people showed up and helped out, saying it is a difficult topic to draw attention to. They thanked the community and the government and said they are working on planning similar events in other areas.
They gave special thanks to John Benjamin Waabishkigaabaw, Joe Nayquonabe Sr, Max Blake, Tehya Nadeau, Elected Officials Sandi Blake, Marvin Bruneau, Wally St John, Sheldon Boyd, and Melanie Benjamin, Brian Miner and the Mille Lacs Area Partners for Prevention (MAPP), Dawn Day, Jeff Beaulieu, Stephanie Day, Allison Clark, Joyce Shingobe, District I Community Center Staff, and Brett Larson.
And an extra-special thank you to the families that brought photos of their loved ones: the Renae Short Family, the Alena Gahbow Family, and the Philip Weyaus Family.