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In the spring of 1989, at the World Service Conference of Narcotics Anonymous, the executive director of the WSO Inc. suggested that Canadian members meet to discuss the possible formation of a national service body.
The first gathering of Canadian representatives occurred in Toronto, Ontario in July of 1989. At that time, there were four established regions in Canada: British Columbia (B.C.), Alsask (consisting of the two provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan), Ontario, and Quebec. The Upper Midwest region of the United States was also present on behalf of their Canadian member area, Winnipeg, Manitoba. NA members from across Canada recognized the need to meet to discuss common concerns in the Canadian fellowship. Until this time, the central points of reference had been the World Service Office Inc. in Van Nuys, California and the Annual World Service Conference of NA. The first tradition was the basis of the participants' desire to form a body that would complement our existing service structure.
Representatives from each of these regions, staff members from the WSO Inc., and members of the World Service Board of Trustees met to discuss the future direction of the Canadian NA fellowship. The members of our Canadian regions were interested in developing a service body to encourage unity and the sharing of relevant information within our borders. The WSO had a vested interest in the development of such a body because of their desire to eventually open a branch office of the WSO Inc. in Canada. With their encouragement and the enthusiasm of the founding members, the vision for the formation of The Canadian Assembly of Narcotics Anonymous ( CANA / ACNA ) was born.
A proposal entitled "The Purpose and Function of the Canadian Assembly of Narcotics Anonymous ( CANA / ACNA )" was developed at the first gathering, and was subsequently presented to the Canadian fellowship for 2/3 majority approval. The document produced was a simple and concise presentation of the mandate of the assembly, outlining guidelines for the general purpose, membership eligibility, and projected goals. As such, the function of this Canadian gathering was established. This purpose and function document was approved at the first official meeting of CANA / ACNA held in Calgary, Alberta in January of 1990.
Meetings are currently held at least once a year at different locations across the country. Because of the vast geographic area of our country, the assembly implemented a cost subsidization system to ensure that all would be able to attend. The assembly follows the standard business agenda of NA service committees. Parliamentary format is used and assembly policy has been developed.
Participants include the executive, committee chairpersons, and regional/area representatives. (The distinction 'region/area' geographic boundaries of Canada that are not a part of an existing Canadian region. For example, the Winnipeg area, a member of the Upper Midwest Region of the United States, now sends delegates on its own behalf.) Interested members at large from throughout the country are also welcome to participate on the various CANA / ACNA committees. The assembly currently consists of representatives from five regions: B.C., Al-Sask, Ontario, Le Nordet (Northern Quebec), Quebec, and Canada Atlantic, as well as members from the Winnipeg area. Active subcommittees include: Website, Fellowship Development and Convention.
CANA / ACNA hosts an annual convention with the theme: 'The Adventure/L'Aventure'. The first convention was hosted by the city of Montreal, Quebec in July of 1991. The purpose of this convention is to foster unity and celebrate recovery.
A Unique feature of the convention and the assembly is the fact that they operate on a bilingual basis, recognizing the two official languages of Canada: English and French. Convention events and some CANA / ACNA documents are translated for distribution throughout our fellowship. The simple goals set out by our founding members are slowly being related and there is much work yet to be done. Our members have gathered, a Canadian branch of the WSO Inc. has opened, and Canadian conventions have been held.
Perhaps the most important effect of the creation of the Canadian Assembly is that we, as addicts, are again reminded that we are not alone. To be a part of something larger than ourselves and to work on a national basis to fulfil our primary purpose establishes that spiritual link that alone we cannot experience. The sharing of ideas and encouragement ensures that our efforts will not be wasted and that we can reach every concern of our Canadian neighborhood to carry the message of Narcotics Anonymous. Approved by the Canadian Assembly of Narcotics Anonymous/ Assemblee Canadien de Narcotique Anonymes (CANA / ACNA) October, 1989
Portions of this text are taken from The NA Way, July 1993, pages 10-11
Revised: November 13, 1994