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Manitoba child advocate leading the fight against youth addiction

Sherry Gott, Manitoba’s Advocate for Children and Youth, is leading a campaign to combat the growing addiction crisis among the province’s youth. She is urging the government to establish a comprehensive strategy focused on young people’s addiction issues.

Gott and her team have been working towards helping young people that are trying to access addiction services, which has grown in the past five years from 3% to 22% and now needs provincial support. Sherry Gott is a member of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation with over 30 years of experience working in areas of child welfare, education, and mental health.

After earning her Master of Social Work degree in 2019, Gott has been actively involved in initiatives addressing the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Her dedication to the community was recognized with an Aboriginal Social Work Society award in 2011.

As the Manitoba Advocate, Sherry’s main goal is to engage with Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island and advocate for those who need it most. Gott’s team has spoken to thirty-nine youth from across Manitoba, revealing that many use substances to cope with life’s pressures, including mental health and family problems. Most youth expressed a desire for help but were unsure of where to find it.

Gott’s team additionally connected with 263 clinical and non-clinical professionals who feel that they were failing young people with addictions. Gott says the majority of those impacted are young females and Indigenous youth, and more education and awareness is required to help them.