I want to start by thanking the majority of NCN Citizens who are law abiding, show that they care for our community and honour our teachings, particularly RESPECT and RESPONSIBILITY. Unfortunately, we have a small group of our Citizens who are not being respectful of the rest of us and our right to live in a safe and healthy community. They have no regard for the rest of us. They take risks and this puts us all at risk. We have kept COVID out of our community but these people, who complain their rights are being affected, are putting us all at risk. Is that fair? Is that what the majority of you want?
This small group is preying on people with addictions. They are taking food out of the mouths of children and clothes off their backs. Our kids don’t have food and clothes because of these selfish people. We are being told that they are earning $30,000 to $50,000 each week. They are taking money from you that should be going to feed and cloth your families. Instead the money is going into these people’s pockets.
They preach about their rights being violated. Well, our children and the rest of us have rights too. To make it very clear, Charter rights are not without limits. Think about it – it is not a violation of the Charter to require people to wear seat belts. It is not a violation to prevent people who are impaired from drugs or alcohol to operate a motor vehicle. It is not a violation of the Charter to prevent people from texting while driving. It is not a violation of the Charter to ask people to produce a driver’s licence and vehicle registration or to search a vehicle. These are all limits on individual rights that are acceptable in a free and democratic society.
During the review of our Community Protection Law, we made it very clear that individual rights are not unlimited and that the rights of the collective must also be considered. People wanted my Council and I to do something because there was so much violence in our community. Remember that NCN had some of the highest rates of violent crime, particularly domestic violence in Canada. People were crying out for help as they wanted safe homes, safe families and a safe community.
We listened to what the people said and have taken steps to try to keep everyone safe from violence and from COVID-19. We have heard the negative comments, the inaccurate information, the complaints from the people who want to keep destroying your lives with their bootlegging and drug dealing. We need all of you who want a safe and peaceful community to stand up for what is right, for all of our rights, not the rights of the bootleggers and drug dealers.
My Council and I have tried to show compassion for everyone especially during this pandemic. We could have evicted or banished these people who refuse to abide by the rules from NCN Lands in order to help keep everyone else safe. We have been reluctant to do so as we wanted to give everyone a chance to change. The pandemic has shown that these people do not care about anyone but themselves. We want everyone to remember how peaceful it was during the spring lockdown when booze and cannabis were banned. To those of you who keep buying from them and keep supporting them do you not care about anyone else either, including your own families?
Unfortunately, we are now at the point where we have to ask ourselves – how long do we keep showing compassion and respect for people who do not show any respect for themselves or others? How long do we allow these people to abuse employees at the store? At the check stop? Do we let them continue to assault FNSOs? Is this the type of community you want? Should Chief and Council just ignore all of these activities that breach our laws – both our customary laws and the laws under our Constitution? Do you want to have anarchy and no rules – is this the type of community you want? It is not the type of community my Council and I want and we do not believe it is the type of community you want either. We are not imposing rules to make life miserable for people. We have rules so that we have a safe, healthy, civilized place in which to live, work and raise our kids.
We have allowed anyone with a permit to obtain alcohol and cannabis as long as the amounts are those allowed by our Community Protection Law. These purchases can be delivered by mail or by deliveries to the check stop. The check stop and searches are there to protect everyone – to enhance community safety. They are also there to try to prevent illegal activity. But to clarify given some of the posts on social media, searches of mail at the post office are not taking place. Further, not all packages are being searched after they are picked up from the post office. But there are searches taking place to prevent violence, bootlegging, drug trafficking and other violations of our laws.
Remember that N’tuskenan is our land. According to our teachings it is up to each one of us to keep N’tuskenan and the Nisichawaysi Nehethowuk safe. We are obligated to maintain peacefulness (Piyahtakithimowin) and to have respect for life, people and property (Kistithihcikiwin). We have been tying to restore balance (Tapitowinkewin) in our community. We want everyone to live a good life (Mithopematisiwin). We all have a responsibility to obey these sacred laws (Pastohowin).
To help ensure our people will still be living on this sacred land seven generations from now, we need to work together and not ignore a problem being created by a minority of selfish, irresponsible people. We need your support. Those of you who continue to be selfish and irresponsible, we are warning you that we can and will evict you and banish you from NCN Lands. This is consistent with our customary laws – Oh’chinewin (what you are doing to our people will cause you harm also). It saddens me to think it has come to this but to protect the rest of us, if we are left with no other choice, we will do what our ancestors had to do, we will evict and banish you. You can go elsewhere and exercise the rights you think you have to bootleg and deal drugs. Everyone needs to decide do we want anarchy or do we want to have a peaceful, safe community. So NCN Citizens, I pose the question to you – what type of community do you want?
We are trying our best to keep everyone safe. We need to pull together to continue keeping COVID-19 out of our community.