The Blood Tribe’s controversial new trespass bylaw is now officially in effect.
The bylaw allows the Blood Tribe Police Service to remove or charge non-band members who enter the reserve without a permit.
“The biggest reason for instituting the new trespass bylaw was to help curtail the sale of harmful drugs to our people on the reserve,” Blood Tribe Chief Roy Fox said on Monday. “We have gone through a crisis. It is still with us. Some very serious drugs were killing our people.”
Fox said securing the safety of people on the Blood Reserve was the most important reason for bringing in the new trespass bylaw.
“What is more important, saving the lives of our people – our young people – or making it inconvenient for some of our friends and visitors that come to visit us?” Fox asked.
Non-tribal members now face annual fees – ranging from $25 dollars to $2,000 for a business – in order to secure a permit to be on the reserve. It’s a step other reserves have taken in the past, but some are concerned about the impact the bylaw could have on non-tribe member relations.
“We’re really losing that connection with non-natives,” said former Stand Off resident Jacob Spear Chief. “And you know, having this trespass bylaw, it just seems stupid to have it brought in… I think it’s really discriminative towards non-natives.”
Others believe the move will help decrease drug activity.
“It will actually slow down the drug trade a lot,” Stand Off resident Lane Wells said. “There is a lot of different people that come here.”
Blood Tribe police say much of the drug activity is coming from residents purchasing from people off the reserve. They say the new bylaw gives the police service another tool for enforcement, by allowing them to begin legal proceedings.
“It’s no different then summonsing a person to court. Essentially, there’s paperwork involved and we’ll be issuing them the paperwork to attend court for that purpose,” Blood Tribe Police Service Chief Kyle Melting Tallow said. “If they’re a detriment to the community, we’ll be dealing with them appropriately.”
Police plan to educate the public before they start enforcing the bylaw.
“Warnings will be issued initially,” Melting Tallow said. “And then down the road, when we get some repeat offenders, probably we’ll start laying some charges.”