Anishinabek ‘War on Drugs' Strategy taking shape

NIPISSING FIRST NATION (October 30, 2008) – The Anishinabek Nation is taking significant steps in eliminating illicit drug abuse, trafficking and associated organized crime in their 42 First Nations across Ontario.

Today, Grand Council Chief John Beaucage announced the framework for the War on Drugs strategy that was declared by the Anishinabek Nation Chiefs-in-Assembly last November.

“We will eliminate the drug problem on First Nations,” said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage. “Our leadership and communities are fully committed to the War on Drugs. This is another significant step in re-claiming our own jurisdiction and eliminating a difficult barrier to wellness, community healing and ultimately, our nationhood.”

Last fall, the Chiefs of the Anishinabek Nation communities unanimously passed a resolution giving First Nation councils the authority to rid their communities of drug dealers. Beaucage stated their First Nations are “prepared to be aggressive, to take extraordinary steps to rid our First Nations of drug abuse, trafficking and associated organized crime. Our Chiefs told their citizens they are willing to go to any lengths to make their communities safe – to use force if necessary”

The “War on Drugs” will encompass four pillars, based on a strategy developed by the City of Vancouver to combat drug problems in Canada’s most notorious area, the Downtown Eastside. Those pillars include the following:

Prevention

Promoting healthy families and communities, protecting child and youth development, preventing or delaying the start of substance use among young people. Promotion of the consequences of drug use, and the serious nature of the Anishinabek Nation ‘War on Drugs’. A specific focus will be on Youth, including the development of new youth-specific initiatives, including counselling, recreation, education and community support programs

Treatment

The Anishinabek Nation will advocate to improve access to services that will help citizens to come to terms with substance use and lead healthier lives. To establish more community treatment programs and facilities, as well as support successful, existing treatment programs and facilities. An important facet of this strategy is to establish First Nation-based outpatient and peer-based counseling and on-going medical care.

Ogitchidaawin: Protecting Our Own

Special focus will be on the promotion of a community-based model of ‘Ogitchidaawin: Protecting Our Own’, where citizens watch out and protect each other from illicit and suspicious activity. This will include the development of a website and call centre for Anishinabek citizens to report suspicious activity on-reserve, and anonymously report drug trafficking and related offences. The Anishinabek Nation will develop new customary laws to address who can come onto Anishinabek Nation Land including provisions to forcibly remove drug dealers.

Enforcement

The Anishinabek Nation and member First Nations will support the investigation, enforcement and prosecution of illicit drug activity, organized crime and gangs on-reserve, drug trafficking, drug houses, and the elimination of businesses and outsiders involved in the drug trade.

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A War on Drugs policy conference will take place February 16-17, 2009 at the Whitefish Lake First Nation near Sudbury, Ontario. At this conference, the Chiefs of the Anishinabek Nation, as well as enforcement services and community health providers will come together to discuss the framework and develop comprehensive strategies and customary laws to eliminate the drug problem on First Nations.

Partners on the War on Drugs will include the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, Ontario Provincial Police, Anishinabek Police Service, as well as community and tribal police services.

The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

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