"It's about helping our people. For some God-given reason, I was put into this position. So, I'm here to help do that and I'm here to execute what I'm supposed to be doing. Love me or not, I don't care. I'm just here to do a job."
That's Dakota Tipi First Nation Councillor Karl Stone referring the hard-hitting manner that his community's Drug Task Force is taking on the war on drugs.
Addiction to meth and heroin is real, and it affects Dakota Tipi First Nation as well as Portage la Prairie. Daniel Pashe is working with the drug task force security and says their ongoing battle with drug trafficking in the community has been at a standstill, seeing as previous local politics had been tied to much of it.
"The drug dealers had their hands in the politics," says Pashe. "And it's always tied into the politics and the election side of things. There are so many of their clients on the reserve. They have some kind of power over C and C (Chief and Council). Now, this current Chief and council wants to battle that. There probably will be some blowback of all this stuff with the evictions. At least now we finally have leaders to actually go against and make a change, because it not only affects Dakota Tipi, but it affects Portage la Prairie, too."
He notes the message may see other reserves follow suit, as well. Pashe says other First Nations are also facing these struggles. He notes when drug dealers are inside political C and C, it complicates things, to say the least.
Councillor Karl Stone notes the epidemic of drugs is not so much talked about anymore.
"It's a reality here in our community. Our priority, as a Chief and Council, is the best interests of our people and our youth. If it was anyone's child or grandchild that was on meth or heroin, I think those people affected would do anything to save or get them off the addiction. But it takes resources to do that. We don't have the resources, but we're trying to make that effort to apply to the governments to help us battle the addiction problem in our community. I think the priority is our family members that are on meth and heroin."
Stone says he hopes the province steps up and provides resources. Their people need to be healed and helped. If the resources can be acquired to help battle the addiction, it would greatly assist the problem.
"We don't even have the resources to pay the Safety Officer program. The majority of our officers here in Dakota Tipi are working for nothing. They're just donating their time to to the effort. Families have been affected by overdoses. It's somebody's daughter and somebody's son who is walking around on meth and heroin. We already have experienced deaths in our community. Hopefully, we could combat and come out the winners for our children and for our people."
The board has hope they can conquer the issue. Braden Pashe says they waged a war against alcohol.
"The Chief of that time is the current Chief now. We got into a band council program and were able to make this a dry reserve. Dakota Tipi is a dry reserve. Back in the 90s, we were able to make it an alcohol-free reserve. With the help with the RCMP, myself, the Chief, and Council, were able to make and keep it dry. We made the made the news that time. We're trying to do that with drugs."
Pashe says that if someone comes into the community with alcohol, they can report it and issue a $1,000 fine.
"It's different a little bit different now because there are weapons involved," continues Pashe.
Task Force Board member Diane Smoke explains she has eagle feathers in her home as a means of keeping alcohol out due to respect of the symbols. However, she notes, too many no longer respect these things that their elders put in place.
Justice Coordinator Braden Pashe responds by saying that their men are trained and, despite the lack of an office, they're planning to get more equipment and issue emergency numbers for citizens to call. He notes at this point, they're still putting the structure in place.
Security Officer Daniel Pashe adds many drug dealers use reserves like safe havens for their operations. He explains the RCMP needs evidence to kick down the doors and raid the homes. However, with most reserves tied into the drug world, it makes it difficult to defeat the drugs that are there.
"Chief and Council, in most reserves are tied into the drugs. Many drug dealers have their hands in the pockets of the their C and C," says Pashe. "They have drug dealers that are even on Chief and Council. If we can start making a stand now, maybe people will follow suit. Right now, you got kids on reserves following blueprints of what they think is the blueprint to success; 'If I could be a drug dealer, I'll become a Chief and Council.' They see their uncle or cousin becoming a drug dealer. Now, they want to become a drug dealer and then they're like, 'Well, if I become a drug dealer, now I could become Chief and Council."
Pashe asks how you can go into the band office and fight it when the Chief is the drug dealer?
"It's affecting not just their community, but the community's around them which will be Winnipeg or The Pas. or something like that. It's just it's affecting all those communities."
Diane Smoke makes mention of the Betty Osbourne case. Osbourne was brutally murdered in The Pas in 1971 at the age of 19.
"Everybody knew how she died, but no one would say anything," notes Smoke. "It's a small reserve. Everybody knows what everybody's doing, but nobody wants to say anything."
Stone adds it was all about votes. Many addicts were supporters of the candidates.
"For me, it was never about that. It's not about politics here," says Stone. "It's about helping our people. It's about curing our people off of the meth addiction. It's about curing our people off of the heroin addiction. It's not about votes. It's not about elections. It's about helping our people. For some God-given reason, I was put into this position. So, I'm here to help do that and I'm here to execute what I'm supposed to be doing. Love me or not, I don't care. I'm just here to do a job."
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