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Oneida Nation of the Thames women take stand against drugs in their community

Women from Oneida Nation of the Thames marched through Oneida on Friday to bring awareness to what the women are calling a growing drug problem. July, 10 2020
Women from Oneida Nation of the Thames marched through Oneida on Friday to bring awareness to what the women are calling a growing drug problem. July, 10 2020. Sawyer Bogdan / 980 CFPL

Women from Oneida Nation of the Thames and several other First Nations marched through Oneida to bring awareness to what the women are calling a growing drug problem.

Over 60 people, the majority of whom were women, participated in the demonstration on Friday afternoon.

Read more: Coronavirus: Oneida Nation of the Thames closes community amid COVID-19 fear

“A number of women gathered and said we need to take back our community because of the behaviour of our men and the state of emergency. We have a drug pandemic going on in our community,” Kahawani Doxtator, one of the organizers of the event said.

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She and a number of the other women created the Our Mothers, Good Minds group over a month ago after OPP raided three illegal cannabis stores on the outskirts of the Oneida Nation.

On June 4, members of the Middlesex County OPP and Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team (PJFCET) executed Cannabis Act search warrants on Carriage Road in Middlesex Centre for three illicit cannabis storefronts.

Increase in drug seizures at U.S.-Canada border
Increase in drug seizures at U.S.-Canada border

Police seized approximately $480,000 in cannabis related products and charged 10 people in the raid, including seven people from Oneida Nation of the Thames and one person from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

Following the raids, Doxtator said, some of the people who owned the shops occupied the Oneida band office, intimidating several families and community leaders.

She said this prompted the women in the community to want to take action on a growing drug problem in the community like opioids, fentanyl, and cocaine.

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Young Oneida girl at march through Oneida Nation of the Thames against drug problems in the community on July 10, 2020
Young Oneida girl at march through Oneida Nation of the Thames against drug problems in the community on July 10, 2020. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

“We all want to get together to let all of the drug dealers in our community know to stop dealing the drugs in our community. We are worried about the future generations,” Doxtator said.

Read more: Methamphetamine use on the rise, city in ‘crisis’: AIDS Saskatoon

The group is calling for a drug treatment centre for those in the community struggling with addiction. Since meeting over a month ago the women have a constant fire burning outside the Oneida community centre which, they say will continue to burn until a centre is built.

Carolyn Doxtator, another organizer, said although they don’t have specific numbers when they first met, there were around 100 women who all had someone in their life struggling with addiction.

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“We felt if we come together as women in the community, we could do something together, and it would make more of an impact,” she said.