For Leona Lachinette International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder day hits close to home.
The 30-year-old joined more than a dozen people Friday at the marina to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy for the eighth annual Honouring Mothers mini powwow.
The powwow is geared toward supporting individuals affected by alcohol and exposure as well as supporting those who are struggling with addictions.
“I recently found out that my younger sister has FASD,” Lachinette said.
“I came to learn as much about it as I can, because there’s a possibility that she might come live with me and I just want to be prepared for her.”
Lachinette said she witnessed her sister’s mothering drinking heavily during the pregnancy, but she was unaware of the dangers this could have on an infant, so she remained silent.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a condition that occurs in a baby whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.
These infants could have problems such as an abnormal appearance, short height, low body weight, poor coordination, and behavior problems.
Despite Lachinette’s feelings toward her sister’s mother, she feels grateful now.
“We always wanted an opportunity for her to come and be with us,” Lachinette said. “My brother, my sister, and I live out here and she’s been away for a long time.”
Friday’s ceremony wasn’t just a time for reflection it was a time to educate as well.
Organizer Sheila Marcinyshyn said Anishnawbe Mushkiki and partners want to spread the word about programs that are available for families and pregnant mothers.
“Ultimately, the main goal is to abstain from alcohol,” Marcinyshyn said. “Know about the dangers of drinking, and where they can access support in the community to help them on their journey”
For the past 14 years Marcinyshyn has noticed a decrease in women drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
She said there’s been more awareness, but there’s still a lot more work to be done to let those know there’s no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
“I find that we are making a difference in supporting families that are struggling with addiction, so they can have a healthy pregnancy,” Marcinyshyn said.
She added that it’s important to know that FASD affects everyone, and that’s part of the message they want to get out there “it affects the whole community not just one person.