Alcoholism on reserves

December 6th, 2013, 10am

It was -23°C with few clouds. The breeze was gentle.

Alcohol on reserves… Another possible-alcohol related incident has happened on the Yellow Quill First Nation in Saskatchewan and 2 children died. The 1 and 3 year old sisters were discovered in only T-shirts and undergarments in the snow suffering from hypothermia and frostbite. Apparently the father had been drinking heavily that day. Yellow Quill First Nation tried unsuccessfully to become a dry reserve a year ago.

There are currently 22 dry reserves in Manitoba, but the leaders’ debate whether banning the alcohol is really the answer. Some reserves were dry and now allow limits on alcohol for personal use. When the reserve is dry, other issues ensue and tragic deaths have occurred from people going to remote areas to pick up the illegal alcohol. Bootlegging becomes a big commodity. Banning alcohol from Aboriginal people is like going back in time. In Canada, under the Indian Act, Aboriginal people were banned from possessing and consuming alcohol on reserves until 1951. There is a lack of police enforcement to support this type of ban as well.

The biggest issue is that it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. There are addictions to be dealt with, and if you have an alcohol addiction you will find a way to get the alcohol. What needs to happen is we need to provide programs, services and treatments to those who need it.

David Wade said thanks.

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Kelly Barr

I have been married for 15 years and am the mother of 2 small children. I grew up in BC but now live in Northern Manitoba to fight the winters and the mosquitoes!

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