Manitoba First Nations Declare a State of Emergency over Drug Crisis

Seven Manitoba First Nations have declared a state of emergency in response to rising substance abuse; resulting in growing crime rates and increased suicides.

According to CTV News, Chiefs from the Birdtail Sioux, Dakota Tipi, Long Plain, Roseau River Anishinabe, Sandy Bay Ojibwaym Swan Lake, and Waywayseecappo First Nations made the declaration to raise awareness about the rise in drug abuse among their communities, including the use of opioids, crack cocaine and methamphetamine.

There are about 20,000 people in the affected communities.

“The rise in substance abuse, growing crime rates and increase in suicides are shared concerns in our communities,” Chief Kenneth Chalmers, Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council chairperson said in a news release.

“In the last year in my community, 60 per cent of our children born were put on morphine after birth because of the addictions of the mothers,” – Ken Chalmers

Although the chiefs said they’ll be working to combat the crisis through a new strategy of education, prevention, and enforcement, they’re calling for government action at the provincial and federal levels to help in creating an addiction treatment facility.

“We need a treatment centre in our communities,” Francine Meeches, chief at Swan Lake First Nation, told CTV Winnipeg. “[In] one of our communities, somewhere, we need healing centres. Somebody owes us that.”

The chiefs have also pledged to work with police in preventing drugs from coming into communities and exile band members who are caught selling drugs.


Wapekeka First Nation Declares State of Emergency in Wake of Suicides

Jolynn Winter, 12, left, and Chantel Fox, 12, centre, from the community if Wapapeka First Nation in Ontario, died by suicide in January. Jenera Roundsky, 12, (not pictured) died on June 13. (Supplied by the Winter and Fox families/CBC News)

Jenera Roundsky, 12, latest child to die by suicide in the remote northern First Nation

Staff | June 21, 2017

Wapekeka First Nation has declared a state of emergency after the third suicide of a child in the remote First Nation since January.

Chief Brennan Sainnawap issued the declaration after a meeting Tuesday night.

All of the girls who died were just 12 years old and part of a suicide pact that community leaders became aware of last summer.

That’s when community officials first asked for help but, according to a spokesperson, it has been slow to arrive.

Jenera Roundsky was the latest child to die. She was found by another child near the community’s outdoor rink last week. Jolynn Winter died on Jan. 8, while Chantel Fox died two days later.

Nearly 40 young people from the community are currently considered to be at risk of suicide; that represents about 10 per cent of the population of Wapekeka.

The state of emergency asks for an immediate response from Ontario and provision of the necessary services for the community.


‘Another Reason To Live:’ Attawapiskat Teen Struggles For Meaning In Life

Rebecca Hookimaw, 17, poses for a photograph in the northern Ontario First Nations reserve in Attawapiskat, Ont., on Thursday, April 21, 2016. Hookimaw began drinking and taking pills and tried to commit suicide before and after the suicide of her sister Sheridan Hookimaw who was 13-years-old. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Rebecca Hookimaw, poses for a photograph in the northern Ontario First Nations reserve in Attawapiskat, Ont., on Thursday, April 21, 2016.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The Canadian Press | April 24, 2016

ATTAWAPISKAT, Ont. – Thirteen-year-old Sheridan Hookimaw killed herself on the banks of the river that flows through Attawapiskat, ultimately sparking a crisis that has now drawn international attention to her isolated First Nations community.

The sickly girl, who had to be flown out weekly for medical appointments, recorded video messages to her family saying she wanted to end her pain, and telling them not to blame themselves.

Since then, as many as 100 others in Attawapiskat — a community of 2,100 people — have apparently tried to kill themselves, sparking panic among the First Nation’s leaders, who recently declared a state of emergency in a desperate cry for help.

Among them is the big sister Sheridan left behind.

“Every morning when I wake up, when I don’t see my sister there or when I don’t hear her voice, I feel so lonely without her,” Rebecca Hookimaw, 16, says at the home they shared.

“I just tell myself: ‘She’s out of town, she’s at her appointment.’ I still don’t want to believe she’s gone.”

Beyond the grievous personal loss, Hookimaw’s acquaintance with desolation runs deep. Her eyes speak of things no teenager should have to know about.

She grew up with her grandparents rather than with her mom and dad, she says. Her father disappeared from her life, leaving a void, although she vacillates between whether or not it still bothers her.

Her background has also helped her understand why her peers — most from damaged families living in over-crowded, frequently substandard houses in which drug and alcohol addictions wreak havoc — might want to kill themselves.

“I’ve been through that, too,” she says, waving her long black hair from her face. “I started drinking and doing drugs because I couldn’t handle the pain anymore.”

There was also bullying: people called her fat and ugly, she says. Adding to her woes, her four-year-old cousin was killed by a truck a few years ago as she rode her bike on a rutted street — there are no sidewalks and few safe places for kids to play in Attawapiskat.

By last fall, when her sister sought out the means with which to end her life, Hookimaw had already tried suicide several times.

“I never made it through, but my sister did,” she says. “I got mad about it and sad about it, but I’m starting to think that God or whatever didn’t want her to be in pain or suffer anymore, and he gave me another reason to live, I guess.”

Sheridan’s death initially pushed Rebecca to further alcohol abuse — the community is officially dry although liquor can be obtained — but the tragedy also prompted the young woman to try to turn her life around.

Now, she says, she’s trying to support other teens who may be teetering on the edge. She wants them to know that suicide is not the answer.

“I tell people things I can’t even tell myself,” Hookimaw says. “If you ever think about taking your life away, don’t do it. Suicide ends your pain but it will go on to somebody else, and it’s just going to keep on going.”

A few nights ago, yet another teen in Attawapiskat was airlifted for treatment after cutting at her neck. A day earlier, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett had flown in to talk to the chief about the deep-rooted crisis.

Bennett also got an earful from young residents about their wants and needs. Hookimaw delivered an emotional, unscripted speech that came from her heart.

She says she wanted to make it clear that First Nations people are tired of being third-class citizens in their own land.

“People are treating us like we’re nothing. We’re not different from everybody. We’re all human,” she says. “If we were like white or whatever, they’d help us out right away, but we’re native.”

Bennett has gone. The glare of the media is fading, leaving the still-forlorn young woman trying to move beyond the suicide crisis that is weighing on both her and other First Nations communities across Canada.

“I hope everything changes in Attawapiskat one day, because I have little brothers and I don’t want them growing up the way I grew up.”

Five More Suicide Attempts Made In Attawapiskat ‘Aboriginal Community In State Of Emergency’


Attawapiskat First Nation

Reuters, Apr. 16, 2016

Suicide attempts rise in Canada aboriginal community in crisis

Five children tried to take their own lives Friday evening in a Canadian aboriginal community of 2,000 that has declared a state of emergency over repeated suicide attempts, its chief said.

Chief Bruce Shisheesh of the Attawapiskat First Nation in the province of Ontario confirmed the news in a brief telephone conversation on Saturday. It was not immediately clear how old the children are.

The remote northern community declared a state of emergency last Saturday after 11 of its members attempted suicide in one weekend and 28 tried to do so in March.

About a dozen teenagers in the community attempted suicide on Monday, after the declaration.

Regional and federal governments sent healthcare workers to the community in response to the state of emergency.

Canadian legislators held a special parliamentary session Tuesday night to address the suicide attempts, calling them “completely unacceptable” and vowing steps to keep them from happening again.

Canada’s 1.4 million aboriginals, who make up about 4 percent of the country’s population, have higher levels of poverty and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians and are more often victims of violent crime, addiction and incarceration.

Canada’s Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said in a statement on Friday she would visit the community.

Shisheesh tweeted hours later: “Busy night at the hospital … pray for Attawapiskat.”

(Reporting by Ethan Lou in Toronto; Editing by James Dalgleish) 

Grassy Narrows Declares State Of Emergency Over Unsafe Drinking Water

A beach in Grassy Narrows First Nation is shown. (

A beach in Grassy Narrows First Nation is shown. (

CTV News

The Grassy Narrows First Nation has declared a state of emergency over unsafe drinking water in the community.

The Ontario community also known as Asubpeechoseewagong is located approximately 300 kilometres east of Winnipeg.

In a statement issued Thursday morning, the community advised residents to consume bottled water until its drinking water is considered safe.

“The community is delivering bottled water door-to-door to ensure that their families, many of which have already been impacted by mercury poisoning, have safe drinking water,” the statement said.

The statement said that drinking water tests completed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment found turbidity at a level 120 times the safe limit. Turbidity refers to discolouration and particulate matter in the water.

Chemicals that are possible carcinogens were also found in elevated levels.

According to the statement, parts of the community have not been able to drink the tap water for two years due to elevated levels of uranium. The entire community has been under a “boil water” advisory for approximately one year.

In June 2015, a report commissioned by the Ontario government and Grassy Narrows found high mercury levels in the water supply.

Shoal Lake 40 Lifts State Of Emergency

Shoal Lake 40’s ferry passed Transport Canada’s inspections Wednesday, May 13, 2015 and was back in the water. SUPPLIED/FOR THE ENTERPRISE

Shoal Lake 40’s ferry passed Transport Canada’s inspections Wednesday, May 13, 2015 and was back in the water. SUPPLIED/FOR THE ENTERPRISE

By Amber McGuckin, May 13, 2015

Shoal Lake 40 called off its state of emergency as the community’s ferry has passed inspections.

“It’s really, really good news,” said Shoal Lake 40 Chief Erwin Redsky. “The community has really come together in dealing with this crisis and we are all very happy that our only lifeline to outside the community will be in operation shortly.”

Transport Canada gave the First Nation community restricted operation for the ferry that takes the community’s cars and residents to and from the island.

The restrictions include a three car limit on the ferry when it was previously four and now allowing 18 passengers, down from 40. The band will also closely monitor the ferry for leaks.

The ferry requires a bottom replacement, which will happen in the fall. A marine consultant will determine the extent of repairs required and the total cost won’t be known until the design is complete.

The First Nation community declared a state of emergency May 1 citing that without the ferry, community members can’t get their vehicles off the island so they don’t have access to water, groceries or medical services.

The ferry failed to pass a mandatory federal inspection earlier this month that’s required every four years.

“It was very evident when we pulled it out last fall it was leaking,” said Redsky.

Even though people in the community could take their personal boats to the mainland, with their vehicles on the island, Redsky said they’re essentially stuck on shore. “That’s our only lifeline to the outside world,” said Redsky.

The reserve was originally isolated in an effort to supply fresh water to Winnipeg and has been under a boil-water advisory for 17 years.

Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg have committed to pay $1 million each towards a feasibility study for an estimated $30-million road planned to address the problem.

Organized Crime Causes Blood Tribe To Call A State Of Emergency Over Oxy 80 Deaths

By Black Powder | Red Power Media

The Blood Tribe (Kainai) First Nation southwest of Lethbridge has been holding rallies and sounding alarms about a fake street drug sold as OxyContin that contains fentanyl.

Now the illegal drug infiltrating the Blood Tribe Reserve has prompted community leaders to call a state of emergency.

The Blood Tribe chief and council passed a resolution declaring a local state of emergency, to draw attention to the situation.

Council was prompted to take action March 3rd, following continuous cries from the community, said Lance Tailfeathers, head of the Blood Tribe’s Health Advisory Committee.

At least 10 deaths on the First Nation have been linked to the street drug Oxy 80, or fake Oxycodone.

It’s believed organized crime groups are pushing Oxy 80 in the area.

The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), an umbrella policing agency that targets serious and organized crime, has seized more than 14,000 fentanyl pills from across Alberta since April 2014.

The most recent seizure was in Lethbridge, where members of the ALERT team removed 300 fentanyl pills, other drugs and firearms from a home.

More than 300 fentanyl pills seized from one home in Lethbridge. And guns, and cash, and other drugs.

More than 300 fentanyl pills seized from one home in Lethbridge. And guns, and cash, and other drugs.

In late January, ALERT arrested a number of people, including one member of the Hells Angels — in connection to a major drug investigation.

ALERT said officers executed four search warrants at the same time, with the help of Edmonton Police Service and RCMP members —  on three homes in Edmonton, the fourth was located in St. Albert.

Inside the homes, officers seized a variety of items, including a Hells Angels MC vest that contained illegal drugs, two rifles, and a loaded handgun along with ammunition and other gun parts, four body armour vests, 350 grams of cocaine, oxycodone pills and drug trafficking paraphernalia, two fake driver’s licenses, and $23,000 cash, and a vehicle.

Investigators said the focus of the investigation is a member of Hells Angels


ALERT investigators displayed items seized January 30, during a massive coordinated search of four homes in north Edmonton and St. Albert.

A separate investigation by RCMP and Saskatoon police led to a series of raids in Saskatchewan and Alberta earlier in January, that yielded more than $8 million worth of drugs. The seizures included more than 3,000 fentanyl pills with the same chemical composition as narcotics linked to three overdose deaths in Saskatoon.

Thirteen of the 14 people charged in the bust are members of the Hells Angels or the Fallen Saints, another motorcycle gang, police say.

The president of a biker gang called the Fallen Saints was arrested, as were two full-patch members of the Hells Angels: one in Saskatoon and one in Alberta.

Items seized in raids displayed by police in Saskatoon. PHOTO: Richard Marjan, The StarPhoenix

Items seized in raids displayed by police in Saskatoon. PHOTO: Richard Marjan, The StarPhoenix

ALERT investigators believe the oxycodone pills are made in clandestine labs, but they don’t know where.

Meanwhile the battle is far from over on the Blood Reserve.

The Blood Tribe Police Services (BTPS) has only two officers dedicated to concentrate their time exclusively to drug-related investigations of this type.

The officers have been assigned to the newly-formed Crime Reduction Unit (CRU), and have been chosen based on their related experience and training in drug-trafficking investigations.

Blood A growing number of tribal members are showing their frustration and concern regarding the substance abuse and selling of illegal and prescription drugs on the Blood reserve.

Community members have held rallies to raise awareness of the dangers of Oxy 80 and also called on drug dealers to leave.

“There’s a lot of positives coming out of it,” said Travis Plaited Hair, to the Lethbridge Herald. He added, many are coming forward looking for help, while those who once sold Oxy 80 out in the open, are retreating into the shadows. “Our own people who were selling this, they’re not as visible any more. It’s a small community – we know everybody so it took something like this (the rallies) to tell them we’re not going to take this BS.”

The Blood Tribe has held information sessions to educate their community and also posted two videos on its website,, to help residents learn more about opioid-overdose prevention.

In a media release the BTPS acknowledges the community concern and the efforts of Chief and Council to take positive action to address those concerns.

The BTPS encourages the general public to submit tips to their anonymous tip email,

OxyContin 80 pills are shown in this 2010 file photo. (Dan Healy / Regina Leader)

Police say fentanyl is most often sold as counterfeit OxyContin, green pills labelled “CDN” on one side and “80” on the other.

Fentanyl is approximately 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and roughly 15 to 20 times more potent than heroin.

“We’re still seeing overdoses and we’re still seeing deaths from it,” said Pamela Little Bear, a Blood Tribe Member who has been educating other residents of the reserve about the dangers of the drug.

According to a news release, Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, physician for the tribe, has recommend the medication Naloxone to counter the effects of opioids in overdose situations.

The First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) has provided 47 Naloxone kits and the Blood Tribe will purchase more kits if needed. Community meetings were held in Levern, Moses Lake, and Stand Off to explain to residents what Naloxone is and provide training on how to administer the medication.

“There’s a five-minute window to administer it, but you still have to get the person medical attention within about an hour,” said Lance Tailfeathers.

The Blood Tribe plans to hand out the Naloxone kits strategically to families and patients in the community and eventually to schools.

Officials for the Blood Tribe met with the Alberta Emergency Management Agency to begin assessment of the local state-of-emergency request. The tribe said it will also actively seek federal health funding in providing additional resources.

Gov. Nixon Ends State of Emergency for Ferguson Protests


Dec 17, 2014, | Associated Press

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday ended the state of emergency that he declared for the St. Louis area ahead of unrest over the Ferguson grand jury decision, praising the work of police and the National Guard in preventing any protest-related deaths.

He issued his executive order on Nov. 17. Protests, including some that turned violent, broke out on Nov. 24 after St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that the grand jury wouldn’t indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, for the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old. Wilson has since resigned from the department in the St. Louis suburb.

“I want to thank state and local law enforcement, the leaders of the unified command, and the members of the Missouri National Guard for working tirelessly to protect the public,” Nixon said in a statement. “As the hard work of healing and rebuilding continues, the fact that not a single life was lost as a result of the unrest is a credit to the hard work and dedication of these brave men and women.”

On the night of the grand jury announcement, 700 members of the Guard were deployed in the St. Louis region. Nixon sent in 1,500 more troops after some of the unrest became violent that first night and led to looting and fires that destroyed 12 Ferguson-area businesses.

After deployment of the additional troops, scattered violence erupted the night of Nov. 25.

Protests continued in the following days but the violence ceased as local and state police stayed in charge of crowd control and the Guard protected buildings.

The actions of police have been widely criticized, with protesters and others saying officers were too quick to arrest peaceful demonstrators and displayed tactics that were too militarized.

Alexis Templeton, a 20-year-old college student and co-founder of Millennial Activists United, said Nixon sent the large number of Guard members and police officers to “instill fear.”

“I feel he was trying to run the narrative that protesters were dangerous,” she said Wednesday.

Templeton was among about 75 people who marched from St. Louis police headquarters to St. Louis City Hall ? a frequent target of activists ? to protest how police handled demonstrations related to the Brown shooting. They also claimed police have been intentionally targeting demonstration leaders for arrest.

Their protesting led to City Hall being quickly shut down. The closing affected office workers and citizens attempting to do city business. The city also canceled several public meetings scheduled for Wednesday.

“They have been changing up the tactics,” said Derek Laney, a community organizer charged with assault on a law enforcement officer who accused him of accidentally making contact while falling to the ground at an earlier City Hall “die-in” demonstration. “They want to intimidate us, they want to smear our names. They’re attempting to paint a picture to promote a narrative of violence.”

Several members of the city’s Board of Aldermen joined protesters outside the building in support of their efforts to gain entry. No arrests were reported and the protest was peaceful.

“This is a public building,” Alderwoman Megan Green said. “We support your right to be here.”

The Justice Department is conducting a civil rights investigation related to the Brown shooting. It’s not clear when those findings will be released.