The Saskatchewan RCMP is speaking out about public safety concerns in Pelican Narrows.
Earlier this week leadership from Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) put out a public call for assistance to help deal with violence and illicit drugs in the community.
RCMP Inspector Stephen Bergerman, who spoke with MBC Radio News from Pelican Narrows said they recognize violent crime is a serious problem.
“It is a high crime area right now and there’s a high rate of victimization,” he said.
According to RCMP there have been 51 violent firearms offenses in the community in 2023, which is up from 2022 where 26 were reported, which is a 96 per cent increase.
While in Pelican Narrows Bergerman, who is in charge of RCMP operations in Saskatchewan’s north district said he has been meeting with a number of community members to talk about the current problems. Friday morning he met with staff at the community’s health clinic, who have been dealing with an increase in the number of people who have been victims of violent crime.
“We were able to support them in providing some security recommendations within the health centre and discussing the equipment they have,” said Bergerman.
Bergerman said he as well had plans to meet with businesses in the community to also offer them advice on how they might be able to improve security as well.
Among the calls made by PBCN leadership at their media conference in Prince Albert Monday was for a larger police presence in the community, specifically the deployment of the Saskatchewan RCMP’s specialized units, which target dangerous offenders. Bergerman said RCMP has put more resources into Pelican Narrows which has at times included the crime reduction team and traffic services team. He added due to the nature of the work the specialized units do he could not be specific about when they would be present.
“I can’t say when they will be operating in Pelican Narrows, I can say they are fully engaged and will be operating within the community at sporadic times,” he said.
Bergerman said the RCMP’s warrant apprehension team has also been working in Pelican Narrows over the last year working to arrest people wanted on active warrants.
Along with a stepped up police presence, Bergerman said they are also looking to work with community members to better secure firearms in their homes. The inspector said to do this the RCMP is hoping to team up with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) to raise awareness about programs which can provide people equipment like trigger locks.
“We want to ensure that all firearms within the community are safely stored and lawfully stored,” he said.
Indigenous Service Canada responds
PBCN has as well called for more health care workers to be brought in to help relieve the current staff, who have been overwhelmed due to the current situation.
In response to an inquiry from MBC Radio News ISC provided the statement below.
Indigenous Services Canada officials are aware of the situation concerning the safety of people in Pelican Narrows and we are deeply concerned. We understand healthcare services have been adjusted in response to these recent events and for more information of which services have been affected, we recommend you contact the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Health Services directly.
Healthcare personnel are employees or contract service providers paid by the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) Health Services or Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority. Through a funding agreement, PBCN received approximately $49 million in 2022-23 and has received over $34 million in 2023-24 so far for health programming and services. Security personnel are employed by the First Nation .ISC officials have been in contact with community representatives to offer support services in terms of mental wellness and at this time no additional requests for these services have been made.
Discussions concerning other supports and assistance are continuing, including funding for additional security services. The local RCMP are aware of these situations and have responded to a number of calls in the community. For more information on their response, please contact the local RCMP detachment directly.
Indigenous services Canada will work closely with the community to determine the mental health support needed.
(Top Photo: File Photo.)
Editors note: This story was amended on Feb.12 to correct an error regarding violent crime statistics in Pelican Narrows.