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‘World on notice’ after drugs claim another young life in North Island nation

After 11 deaths from drugs and alcohol in their community so far this year, two North Island Nations have declared a state of emergency.

The elected leaders of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw [Gwa-Sala Nak-wah-dah] Nations (GNN) near Port Hardy formally declared the emergency this week. The 1,100 member community recently suffered another tragic loss, this time a 16-year-old.

The band council’s resolution says the purpose is to “put the world on notice that the damages from drugs and alcohol and losses of precious lives in the GNN community have reached an urgent level and that council will not allow it to continue.” They were backed by hereditary chiefs and matriarchs.

The state of emergency declaration says in recent years there has been a “dramatic and disturbing increase in people supplying drugs and alcohol to GNN youth and members.”

It says police have not been helpful, and that “RCMP have been reluctant to work with GNN in enforcing GNN bylaws and council resolutions to restrict or remove drug dealers to try and prevent dealers from bringing deadly drugs into the community.”

The nation will be holding community meetings to develop an action plan, and wants to work with RCMP to help protect the community from drug dealers and alcohol suppliers.

The Gwa’sala and the ‘Nakwaxda’xw peoples are distinct, but have strong cultural and family ties. In the 1960’s the bands were amalgamated and forcibly relocated to a small, semi-rural community near Port Hardy, known as the Tsulquate Reserve.


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