The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Supports Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation’s Call for Addiction Resources and Funding
April 28, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) released the following statement in response to a recent temporary alcohol ban test imposed in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN). The First Nation leadership found that banning alcohol does not fix the issues of over-intoxication of their members and instead leads to more desperate and dangerous attempts to get intoxicated. The AMC supports the leadership of NCN in their call for addiction resources and funding for counselling services as a more viable solution.
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Chief Angela Levasseur reported that the alcohol ban imposed between March 24 and April 11, 2023, had both positive and negative effects. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reported fewer emergency service calls, fewer people going to the nursing station, and fewer reports of violence. However, people sought out more dangerous substances to become intoxicated, which made the ban ineffective. This trade-in of substance use was the reason the ban was only temporary. The results made it clear that alternative solutions are required to address the correlation between alcohol consumption and violent incidents in the First Nation. We commend Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation’s Leadership for their actions of sovereignty and Good Governance in addressing an ongoing issue, and we are here to support their calls for support.
“We support and agree with Chief Levasseur in her assertion that addiction resources and funding for counselling services are required for her First Nation,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “We must address the reason behind alcohol consumption. For many, it has to do with trauma and mental health issues. Mental health support and addiction resources within each First Nation can help and examining the ripple effect of preventing access to alcohol altogether. In the absence of alcohol, we see that people will go to dangerous lengths to obtain it or substitute it for dangerous illegal substances, putting First Nations citizens in danger, which we must avoid.”
Despite Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries stating that customers can purchase as much alcohol as they want at most Liquor Marts, they have also indicated that they have set bottle limits within the Nations of Thompson, Leaf Rapids, Lynn Lake, Wabowden, Snow Lake, Gillam, and Riverton. AMC supports Chief Levasseur in calling for more regulated liquor sales to curb bootlegging and overconsumption.
AMC calls on the province to regulate how much alcohol is sold across all First Nations. Furthermore, resources and funding should be provided for grief counselling, mental health support, and addiction treatment to reduce the demand for alcohol altogether in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation.
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Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.