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Earths People United (EPU)

Some young people in the Haida community on the island of Haida Gwaii, off the coast of British Columbia, say that the healing group they attended, Earth People’s United (EPU), is a cult. Laura Duthiel said peer pressure and shaming, combined with hallucinogenic drug use, enabled leader Erik Gonzales to control her. Other Haida youth have been to EPU’s 1,700-acre Deer Mountain Center in northern California, and to the organization’s compound on the shore of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Raven Ann Potschka, who confirms that EPU healing ceremonies include peyote, ayahuasca, amanita, and psilocybin, says, “We are doing things as a family ... we are doing these ceremonies together for support and we are also learning together ... I benefited greatly.” Haida leader Guujaaw, who leads healing ceremonies of his own, says that the drugs involved are valuable medicine and relatively benign compared with alcohol and cocaine. (APTN National News, 11/9/13) [IT 5.1 2014]