First Nations set to banish drug dealers

Mourners bid farewell to woman who died of drug overdose

FREDERICTON — There is a growing movement on New Brunswick’s First Nations to banish drug dealers, as mourners said farewell this week to a woman who died of a drug overdose.

Leo Bartibogue, an addictions counsellor, says there are 30 to 40 drug dealers in his community of Esgenoopetitj, in northeastern New Brunswick, and it’s hard for people to quit when there’s an ample supply of drugs at every turn.

Bartibogue attended the 35-year-old woman’s funeral on Monday and says it’s suspected she may have taken fentanyl — a powerful synthetic opioid drug that has killed hundreds in western Canada but is relatively new to the East Coast.

“We have so many routes that come in through our community that people seem to prey on, bringing these drugs all the time into our community, so we don’t know what we’re getting,” Bartibogue said.

RCMP Cpl. Maxime Babineau said while an autopsy has confirmed an overdose, police have yet to confirm the drug, and are awaiting test results from Health Canada, possibly later this week.

“We have placed an urgent request for the results,” Babineau said Tuesday.

Bartibogue said the band council has suggested a resolution to ban drug trafficking, as the Elsipogtog and Tobique First Nations have done, and he’s in full support.

Tobique Chief Ross Perley said, under a banishment resolution passed last week in his community, anyone charged with drug trafficking would be cut off from all band services and benefits.

“Our hope is that they’ll reconsider what they’re doing to their people if they risk losing potential employment, housing benefits, royalties or things of that nature,” Perley said.

Both Perley and Bartibogue say children as young as 10 years old are buying drugs.

Perley said he knows of about a half-dozen drug dealers in his community and most are dealing in opioids and prescription drugs, rather than more expensive drugs like cocaine.

“They’re cheap. You can get them anywhere. The traffickers are getting them legally by the local pharmacists, so the access to these types of drugs are really easy,” he said.

“This is the start of us, as a community, a united community and a united leadership taking a stance on drugs in the community.”

According to the New Brunswick coroner’s office, there were 43 drug overdose deaths in the province last year. That’s down from 51 in 2015 and 70 in 2014.

Those statistics account for both legal and illicit drug toxicity deaths.

Esgenoopetitj Chief Alvery Paul has warned his community on social media.

“With this recent death and near fatal overdoses, we as parents, family and community must work together to stop the selling of drugs entering our community. I understand this is a battle that we can’t win overnite but we have to educate our young children,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

RCMP Sgt. Chantal Farrah said police are doing what they can to stop drug trafficking, but they need public help to identify the sellers, which can be done anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

“Taking any type of illegal drug, you never know what’s really in that drug because it’s done on the black market, so you are taking a gamble with your life. It’s like Russian roulette and you’re putting something toxic in your body that could kill you,” she said.

Several Saskatchewan First Nations have made similar moves.

The Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation last year banished six non-band members and gave warnings to more than a dozen members because of a crystal meth problem.

Muskoday First Nation, Mistawasis First Nation and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band have also banished people to help control crime. And the chief of Saskatchewan’s Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said he supports bands that want to exile criminals.

Just Posted

WATCH: Families make yo-yos and weaved yarn at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery

It was all about making yo-yos and yarn bombing at Red Deer… Continue reading

Solve mysteries with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Red Deer

At three sold-out one act Sherlock Holmes plays in Red Deer, theatre… Continue reading

Quebec man arrested in slaying of Alberta woman 16 years ago

AIRDRIE, Alta. — A Quebec man has been arrested in the slaying… Continue reading

Construction underway at Medicine River Wildlife Centre in Red Deer

The new building is twice the size of the old one

Fish for free

No license is required to ice fish on Family Day weekend

WATCH Replay Red Deer Feb. 18: Your weekly news highlights

Watch news from Red Deer and Central Alberta

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Trump gets angry about election meddling, but not at Russia

‘Weirdest thing’: Trump expresses anger, but not over Russian election-meddling

New doping charge could hurt Russia’s chance at reinstatement

Russia could lose its chance to be reinstated before the end of the Winter Olympics because of a doping charge against curling bronze medallist Alexander Krushelnitsky.

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Virtue and Moir break their own world record

Virtue and Moir break short dance record to sit first in ice dance at Olympics

Calgary man dies in Mexico following sudden illness

Troy Black was with his wife, Lindsay, in Puerto Vallarta when he began vomiting blood on Thursday

Life or death main decision for school shooting suspect

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The evidence against the Florida school shooting suspect… Continue reading

Man who stole millions from Seabird Island band sentenced to 4.5 years jail

Stephen MacKinnon sentenced in Chilliwack court for stealing $2.3 million over eight years

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month