Coordinating the Care My Community Deserves

Let's Talk Addiction & Recovery Podcast
Learning how to weave

Chandell Boyd, LADC, joins host Andrew Williams to discuss her work with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, where she's an associate director for the Substance Use Disorders Department. Boyd is also an alumnus of the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies. And although she dreams of the day when addiction no longer affects her community, she's using her master's to coordinate new patient services and facilitate change in her community and among her people.

I think culture is very important. It helps us reconnect with ourselves, with our Spirit, with our ways.

Chandell Boyd

0:00:11 Andrew Williams
Welcome to Let's Talk Recovery Equity. A series of conversations about how we can reach and help more people find freedom from addiction. This series offers us an opportunity to explore the complexities of substance use disorder and to consider new pathways toward hope, recovery, and healing. My name is Andrew Williams. And I serve as the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. And I am the host of our series. Today, I am thrilled and honored to speak with our guest, Chandell Boyd. From the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in Macgregor, Minnesota. Chandell recently graduated from the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies. With a Master's in Addiction Counseling focused on Integrated Recovery for Co-occurring Disorders in December 2021. She now works as the Associate Director for the Mille Lacs Band's Substance Use Disorders Department. Welcome, Chandell, thank you so much for joining us today for this important conversation. How are you?

0:01:11 Chandell Boyd
I'm great. [gives Ojibwe greeting] Hello.

0:01:14 Andrew Williams
Again, thank you for joining us! Before we get started with moving through some of our questions, I would like you to introduce yourself to our audience. Please tell us a little bit about yourself, the communities of care that you grew up in, and what really fuels your passion for the work that you do in Native communities.

0:01:34 Chandell Boyd
My name is [speaks name in Ojibwe], Chandell Boyd. I grew up in [gives name in Ojibwe] Minnesota on the Mille Lacs Band Indian Reservation. I currently reside in McGregor, Minnesota. Which is also known as East Lake, [gives Ojibwe name], or the Mille Lacs Band Indian Reservation. I currently work as an Associate Director for Mille Lacs Band Substance Use Disorders. Which includes the outpatient and assessments. What fuels me is my drive to help my community, to help my tribal members, and just hoping to help people change and heal. And just to help people heal and move forward in a better way, you know, to help build a better community.

0:02:31 Andrew Williams
Yes, well thank you, Chandell. And I think perhaps in your introduction you've perhaps offered the beginning of an answer to my next question for you. You know, one of the highlights of my first year here at the Foundation which I just wrapped up last week was actually participating in the first in-person commencement for the Graduate School in quite some time. And I got to see you and other graduate students walk across that stage. I'm wondering if you could share with us, you know, what was your motivation for going back to graduate school in Addiction Studies? And what was it like to walk across that stage? What does that mean for you and your community?

0:03:08 Chandell Boyd
Mmm-hmm. One of my main motivations is to help my community. And I chose Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies because I felt that they can help me learn the tools and the skills to better help my community or serve my community. and commencement, that was nerve-wracking for me. I didn't wanna trip or anything but I had a good time and it was amazing. My family got to come and watch me graduate. [smiles] It's a lot of hard work and I'm just grateful that I was able to have that opportunity.

0:03:49 Andrew Williams
And what might you say to others who are maybe waffling or on the fence around decisions such that you made to go back to graduate school, to pursue further studies?

0:04:01 Chandell Boyd
I would say go for it, you're never too old to learn. [Williams nods] It's never too late to go back and get your degree. If you have that as a goal, just keeping going.

0:04:15 Andrew Williams
Okay, well thank you. I'd like to move and ask you to help our audience to gain a better picture of exactly the work that you do in your Associate Director role and to give us a window into the range of services offered by the Mille Lacs Band Department that you work with.

0:04:33 Chandell Boyd
I recently took on or accepted this position April of this year. And so it's new to me. I'm just hoping to help build programming to help provide services for community members and just to help provide services to help them heal and also transportation is a big thing and we're hoping to look to adding that into our programming as well, you know, offering more transportation because we live in a rural area. And that would help our clientele, our community members.

0:05:20 Andrew Williams
All right, thank you. Do you have more that you were gonna add? I'm sorry.

0:05:23 Chandell Boyd
[chuckles] So we offer outpatient treatment and also assessments. Right now peer recovery and case management services.

0:05:34 Andrew Williams
All right thank you and you know I've had the good fortune of meeting with you and other members of the Band recently and had a chance to learn more about the services you provide. And I think we've had some really enriching and important conversations around the role of culture in the services you provide. So I'm wondering if you could share with our audience the significance of culture, the role of cultural traditions and the suite of services you offer Native communities in your area.

0:06:05 Chandell Boyd
I think culture is very important. It helps us reconnect with ourselves, with our Spirit, with our ways. We try to find ways to implement culture into our programming. We had group members that were able to go maple sapping, to go canoeing. We offer Sweat Lodge once a month. Which I think is very, very important, you know, it helps the clients heal. And we're looking to add more to our programming.

0:06:46 Andrew Williams
Yeah so let me run with that last point that you've made. One of the questions I wanted to ask you was what are your hopes and dreams, you know, for your community? And in particular what is your sort of vision for the Mille Lacs Band Substance Use Disorders Department? If we were to come back and interview you in five or ten years, how might the services you offer, how might your community look different?

0:07:10 Chandell Boyd
My hopes and my dreams is for our department to grow so we can offer more services to our clients. And also to add more of the cultural components to our programming. And I hope or not I hope--one of my biggest dreams is just to provide a better future for the future generations. So they don't have to grow up in what we have grown up in. And I'm just hoping that it grows and so to a point to where clients won't need our services as much. That's one of my dreams. Just to reduce substance use in my community, to help reduce it or else the future, you know, stop it.

0:08:03 Andrew Williams
Mmm-hmm. [nods] Yes, yes, definitely. Thank you, Chandell. Now one of our commitments as a Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is to lift up the voices of leaders like yourself from diverse communities. And to share some of the promising and exciting work that's being done around substance use disorder offering hope and healing to more diverse communities. How might an organization like the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation assist a department and Native communities like the one that you live in?

0:08:37 Chandell Boyd
I think reaching out and partnering with our community and other communities and learning about the culture, learning about the history, and also teaching us how Hazelden became so successful and you know helping us, guiding us to where we can be successful, you know, like Hazelden.

0:09:01 Andrew Williams
Let me then ask a little bit of a follow-up question as you know our society has been moving through over the course of the last two years, you know, a real moment of racial reckoning. And, you know, in our sort of collective journey to make sense of the historical moment we're at around issues of race and ethnic relations. Many organizations like ours are trying to determine what we can do not just to reckon with this past, to really own the fact that our field itself is in recovery, out of this has come this desire also to repair and to build the sort of partnerships that you suggest would be helpful. [Boyd nods] We know we're not the only one trying to establish these partnerships. Would you have any consultation to us as a Foundation and to other organizations in this professional space on sort of, you know, best practices, things we should be attentive to as we work to build more authentic, democratic, and mutually beneficial partnerships? Between our organizations and departments.

0:10:06 Chandell Boyd
I think respect, you know, respecting all the community, respecting their beliefs and values, and then also education. Education on the past and, you know, education on historical trauma, boarding schools, I think those'll be important as well.

0:10:26 Andrew Williams
All right. So partly you're saying that we need to bring respect for cultural traditions and values and be open to developing new hybrid modalities. And partly what I hear in that as well is respecting the need to move at the speed of trust. That when we take into account and learn more about the historical relationships between mainstream American society, American institutions. and Native communities and organizations that there's—that trust is often very fragile. And that part of what I hear you saying is we need to take the time to learn as we work to build trust. Moving at a speed that's kind of co-created between us.

0:11:05 Chandell Boyd
[nods] Yes. Absolutely. To build trust you can kind of build that relationship with the communities.

0:11:12 Andrew Williams
Mmm-hmm. Now I'd like to ask you a standard question we ask all of our guests. If anyone out there listening is struggling with substance use disorder or has someone they care about who's struggling with substance use disorder, what message would you have for them today?

0:11:30 Chandell Boyd
To reach out. Don't be afraid. Reach out for help. There's people out there that are willing to help, there's people in the community, just reach out for help. And just keep going on and there's help there. [nods]

0:11:48 Andrew Williams
So Chandell, you've given us a really nice introduction and given us a window into the cultural communities that nurtured you as both a person and professional. I'm wondering if you could give us, our viewers, a window into sort of some of the key sort of historical ideas or some of the sort of texture and feel of the cultural community that you're a part of.

0:12:17 Chandell Boyd
One of the biggest things that I've done for myself was to start to go back to my ways. To my Anishinaabe ways. And when I was younger I was fortunate enough to go with my Grandma to ceremonies. So when I was wanting to change my life and to heal, that's where I started to go back to. One of the biggest things that I like about ceremonies is the connection. The connection with other members of the community. And then it is healing, it just feels great and it allows me to kind of find that balance within myself. Whenever I feel myself going out of balance like if I'm stressed out about something, I always know that I need to go to ceremony. Because that would help me—help me find that balance in myself. And if I'm finding myself, you know, a little angry, then maybe go smudge or put out a saying over tobacco. I just find ceremony healing. But the one thing that I loved about ceremony is that connection, the connection with community members, that connection with my family.

0:13:45 Andrew Williams
You know, as we have viewers who might be listening who really appreciate your vulnerability and your sharing of your own story of recovery and the ways in which you have tapped into your own cultural resources and traditions and rituals to support your recovery. What consultation and advice would you have for those who have moved through treatment and are now in recovery? What consultation might you offer them to help sustain their recovery?

0:14:13 Chandell Boyd
To seek out those ceremonies, to seek out those people that are gonna build them up. To keep learning. Attend those ceremonies. Even if you don't wanna attend ceremonies, I mean, do something where you're connecting with people. Just find those avenues of healing. Everybody's different.

0:14:43 Andrew Williams
Now I appreciate the response including that last part, Chandell, and that reminder that as powerful as culture is, that doesn't mean there's a cookie cutter approach, a singular answer, or modality that works for everyone. [Boyd nods] So I appreciate the kind of—the precision, right, of the lens that you push us to have when we look at the issue of substance use disorder in Native communities. And communities more broadly as well. And you know some of what you share really resonates with me, Chandell, I've had the benefit of each Wednesday morning I'm able to sit in as a co-facilitator in a BIPOC youth group at our Plymouth campus. And you know in conversation with some of those young people including, you know, several indigenous youth, the Counselor who was working with us asked them each to envision their recovery. What they were fearful of and moving back to their home communities and what they might do to help sustain their recovery. And each of them offered a very similar response to you. That each one of them talked about the meaning and significance, the need to reconnect with community and culture. We had one Native American young man who talked about, 'I wanna return back to singing in my Native tradition.' I had another young woman talk about how much she valued and looked forward to going back in the fall and being with her parents when they branded the cattle and engaged in all the different community rituals involved around that. And I think if we combine their voices with yours, again we get a real I think sense, a better understanding and appreciation, of how central culture is, cultural connectedness, cultural wellness is to the overall recovery process. And journey. Well Chandell, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, your tremendous insights and experiences with us today. I really appreciate the advocacy that you're doing. And the life-changing, life-saving work that you do each day. So again, Chandell, thank you for your time and generosity of spirit today.

0:16:44 Chandell Boyd
Thank you for inviting me! [smiles, gives thank you in Ojibwe]

0:16:48 Andrew Williams
Thank you. [turns to camera] And thank you to everyone for joining us today for this important conversation. Please let your friends and colleagues know about these conversations and come back often to catch more episodes of Let's Talk Recovery Equity. Together, we can build a happier, healthier, and more equitable tomorrow.

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