In the wake of the James Smith Cree Nation tragedy there were calls from First Nations to improve justice, safety, and health outcomes for communities.
An FSIN conference in Saskatoon this week is aiming to address those concerns with around 600 people gathered to hear expert opinion and discussion on these issues.
Chief Bobby Cameron says drugs and violence are “wreaking havoc” on First Nation communities.
Cameron spoke on a situation on his home of Witchekan Lake First where there was a seizure of drugs and guns.
“That stuff potentially could have killed somebody and that’s my First Nation,” he said. “We have children and young people dying every week and it was never supposed to be that way. So we want to save lives and help people make changes and better choices for a healthier life.”
The FSIN Chief believes the best ideas at the conference will most likely come from front-line technicians who face these issues everyday.
“That’s why I stressed for them to tell us and let us know your ideas, because your one idea may work for everybody,” he said.
One specific area the FSIN chief would like to see improvement includes better RCMP enforcement of Band and Council resolution. However, he says without an official court system to prosecute these by-laws it is difficult for RCMP to enforce them.
Cameron says there are some bylaw officers on communities to enforce band and council resolutions and he says those positions have been successful, but he says more funding would be needed to create these types of positions on all reserves.
The theme of the conference is “Empowering Communities for a Healthier Tomorrow,” and will assemble presenters aiming to provide education, resources, and methodology to assist leaders and front-line workers aid individuals and communities in crisis.
(PHOTO – FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron speaks with reporters at an FSIN wellness conference in Saskatoon. Photo by Joel Willick.)