Red Pheasant Cree Nation declared a state of emergency after it says seven people suffered overdoses on Friday.
None of the suspected overdoses were fatal, according to the First Nation.
In a statement, the central Saskatchewan First Nation said it “is concerned about the increased violence and how it affects the safety of their people. Many residents are living in fear and are reluctant to cooperate with the RCMP because they fear retaliation.”
The statement also quoted Chief Lux Benson saying, “We must do something, and this is our first step; our leadership is taking urgent measures to address the drug problem in the community.”
Benson said the First Nation has issued a warning that it will evict the residents of houses where drug activity is suspected and will disconnect utilities and board up the doors and windows if need be.
He said the drug problem in the community is an issue that requires coordinated efforts from various stakeholders, including the RCMP.
“(The RCMP) have the mandate and the expertise to enforce the law and disrupt the supply of illicit substances. We urge the RCMP to step up and help us address this challenge by increasing their presence, resources, and collaboration,” Benson said.
In the statement, the First Nation said most overdoses can be attributed to addictions and mental health issues. It called on the federal health minister and the provincial government to sit down and discuss how to deliver healthcare to First Nations.
“We call on all our leaders to act now and save lives,” the statement read. “Red Pheasant believes these actions are necessary to protect the Treaty and the inherent rights of First Nations people and to ensure their health, well-being, and dignity.”
“We are wholeheartedly with the families in Red Pheasant Cree Nation that are impacted by this tragedy. We will be at their sides to support them as they manage the devastating impacts of this crisis,” said Zues Eden, press secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services.
“We take this seriously and are making historic investments in mental health and substance use prevention and treatment services,” Eden said.