Poundmaker Cree Nation declares state of emergency to fight the ‘war on drugs’

Click to play video: 'Poundmaker Cree Nation declares state of emergency to fight the ‘war on drugs’' Poundmaker Cree Nation declares state of emergency to fight the ‘war on drugs’
WATCH: A First Nation in Saskatchewan is launching its own police force after what its chief says is a frustrating relationship with the RCMP – Mar 25, 2021

The chief of a Saskatchewan First Nation says they have no choice but to establish their own police force to fight the “war on drugs.”

Poundmaker Cree Nation Chief Duane Antoine said the decision was made after he said they were informed by the Cut Knife RCMP that it didn’t have the authority to enforce a band council resolution (BCR).

Read more: Saskatchewan chief coroner issues warning after 4 suspected drug-related deaths in under 3 weeks

“The RCMP have a duty to protect our people and they are not doing their job, so we need to take matters into our own hands to fight the drug problem,” Antoine said in a statement.

The band council declared a state of emergency to shore up its efforts in dealing with the ongoing drug situation on its reserve.

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“We are taking a unified approach and zero-tolerance policy to fight drug abuse and trafficking by kicking out band members and non-band members through a band council resolution in order to protect our community,” Antoine said.

He added that they have tried to work with Cut Knife RCMP to enforce the band council resolution, but to no avail.

“We have to hold the federal government accountable since these BCRs have no weight for enforcement,” Antoine said.

“The government needs to listen and work with us, and we will do whatever it takes to have our own police force.”

Read more: A third of 2020’s confirmed fatal drug overdoses happened in rural Saskatchewan

Antoine did not say how long it will take to establish their own force, but he said it is needed to protect the community, “especially our children and elders who are suffering from this exposure to the drug scene.”

He is also calling on other First Nations to declare a state of emergency and to discuss solutions in fighting the drug epidemic in their communities.

Poundmaker Cree Nation is roughly 200 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

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