The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) is looking to address the dangerous situation in Pelican Narrows.
Wednesday night at the community’s elementary school PBCN Chief and Council were joined by leaders from the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC), Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) along with the RCMP for a special meeting to talk about solutions to recent violence which has led to a local state of emergency being declared for the community.
A state of emergency was declared for Pelican Narrows on Oct. 17 after the killing of a youth.
A number of residents were on hand Wednesday night, with many voicing their frustrations with the First Nation’s leadership as well as the RCMP. Speaking to media after addressing the meeting, Antonia Sewap, an Elder in the community explained she was worried for her safety along with the safety of her family.
“It’s not safe, I worry, sometimes I can’t sleep with my daughter is out there doing whatever or my son, you know I always think something is going to happen,” she said.
Sewap, who was born in Pelican Narrows, said when she was growing up in the community it was not dealing with the issues that it is now. She added she did not see a lot of violence when she was growing up.
“Those days there was a lot of respect, people respected each other, they cared for one another, they shared,” she said.
(A display in the school’s gym shows those who are missing or have been lost to violence in Pelican Narrows over the years. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)
PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte was also present at the community meeting and spoke to those in attendance. Speaking to media, the PAGC grand chief said Pelican Narrows is not alone when it comes to having issues with violence.
“This is not the only community that’s going through this and it’s because of the challenges that we have in our communities and that’s to do with the gangs, drugs, alcohol,” he said.
Hardlotte, who was joined by vice chiefs Christopher Jobb and Joseph Tsannie at the meeting, said it was vital for the tribal council to show their support and offer what ever supports they can. When it comes to solutions to the current situation, Hardlotte said funding to pay for more security would be helpful.
“The very thing that the community wants right now is funded community safety officers, they don’t have that,” he said.
Along with helping to improve the security situation, Hardlotte said work needs to be done to support youth and Elders. He explained he has also heard from people who are asking that more be done to help people who are dealing with addictions.
“They mention a detox centre here in the community,” he said.
PBCN Chief Karen Bird said she could sense much anger and frustration coming from Pelican Narrows residents who came out to the meeting Wednesday night. The PBCN Chief said she was grateful that many came out to take part and speak up in terms of what they want to see done.
“I was really thankful the community members came out, we wanted to hear from them,” she said.
Bird said to help deal with the current safety concerns they have brought in a community safety officer and emergency coordinator to work to find possible solutions.
When it comes further solutions, Bird said she would like to see funding made available for more community safety work along with additional funds for the First Nation to have its own security. Bird said she was happy to have the RCMP present at the meeting and was pleased with the way they responded to the concerns of residents.
“I can see the commitment the RCMP are making tonight and the way that they were speaking, I was happy to hear that,” she said.
(Residents at the meeting Wednesday night. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)
(Top Photo: Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)